Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (partially found NBC broadcasts of parade; 1953-1980)

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The iconic Happy Dragon balloon on the 1972 NBC telecast.

Status: Partially Found

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual event held in New York City every Thanksgiving Day. The Parade was founded in 1924 as a Christmas pageant by Macy's immigrant employees who wanted to celebrate the holiday,[1] akin to parades held for special occasions in Europe. The Parade is perhaps best known for its iconic helium balloons that depict characters from pop culture such as cartoon characters, brand mascots, and original Macy's characters.


Since 1953, NBC has held the telecast rights to the parade[2]; prior to this, CBS broadcasted the parade. NBC's broadcast of the parade traditionally lasts three hours, with the first hour dedicated to performances by Broadway musicals and the parade progressing to the finish line. The other two hours consist of the parade itself, which features giant balloons, floats, cultural performances, celebrity appearances, and musical/talent ensembles. The parade ends with Santa Claus riding on his own float, signaling the unofficial arrival of the holiday season.

During the first several years that the parade was aired on NBC, the parade experienced many changes that made the parade what it is today. Many of the parade's most iconic balloons were introduced in this period, such as Popeye, Bullwinkle, the Happy Dragon, Underdog, Smokey Bear, Linus the Lionhearted, Sinclair Oil Corporation's Dino mascot, and Snoopy. The toy float concept - smaller floats that feature sculptures of animals and children's toys - was introduced in the 1960s. The parade's unofficial mascot, Tom Turkey, was also introduced during this time period, making his first appearance in the 1973 parade.

Hosts of the NBC telecast have included such personalities as Buffalo Bob Smith (1955 and 1960,) Lorne Greene, Betty White (from 1963 to 1972,) Ed McMahon (from 1974 to 1981,) Helen Reddy (1975,) Bryant Gumbel (from 1977 to 1980 and 1982 to 1984,) Willard Scott (from 1987 to 1997,) Katie Couric (from 1991 to 2005,) and Al Roker (from 1995 to 2021, 2023-).


Out of the 28 parade broadcasts that aired on NBC between 1953 and 1980, only one has surfaced in full. Video recording equipment was not readily available to the general public until 1971, meaning the 1953-1970 broadcasts have a lower chance of being found than the 1971-1980 broadcasts. Clips from various pre-1980 telecasts have been used in parade anniversary specials produced by NBC, meaning at least parts of the broadcasts remain in the NBC archives.

Notable lost parade coverages include the 1956 parade (when all balloons succumbed to blustery winds, with Mighty Mouse crashing in front of NBC cameras), 1960 (the debut of the Happy Dragon, Macy's longest-running singular balloon to date) and 1971 (when all the balloons had to be removed due to heavy winds and rain)

List of Parades

Year Status Notes
1953 Lost
1954 Lost
1955 Lost
1956 Lost
1957 Lost
1958 Partially Found Clips of the Spaceman balloon exist.
1959 Found
1960 Lost
1961 Partially Found A clip of one of the Marching Bands exist online.
1962 Partially Found Footage of Donald Duck was used as part of a special in 2011 and footage of Bullwinkle was used in 2016. Audio of the ending exists.[3]
1963 Partially Found Footage of the start was used as part of a special in 2011, and footage featuring Bullwinkle, Popeye, and the debut of both Dino the Dinosaur and Elsie the Cow was discovered in 2023.
1964 Partially Found
1965 Partially Found Footage of the Dino balloon and the Monroe Girls Corp exist online and can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook respectively.
1966 Partially Found Audio exists[4]
1967 Partially Found Audio of the Carlisle High School Marching Band and the first few seconds of The Happening's performance on the "Rock Candy Mountain" float exists on YouTube.
1968 Lost
1969 Partially Found Footage of the Broadway cast of Jimmy Performing exists, as does audio.[5]. In addition, 9 seconds of footage featuring the Astronaut Snoopy balloon was discovered in 2023.[6]
1970 Partially Found Clips of Donald Duck and Dino was used in 1983, and a split second of Snoopy was used in the intro of 1996.
1971 Partially Found
1972 Partially Found Audio exists.[7]
1973 Partially Found Audio exists.[8]
1974 Partially Found
1975 Partially Found Audio of the Christian County High School Band exists on YouTube.
1976 Partially Lost A majority of the 1976 NBC broadcast is found. However, the pre-parade show that aired before the parade reached Herald Square is still lost.
1977 Partially Found The intro, Beatlemania's performance, Wrangler Bells' performance, and clips of Smokey, Mickey and Kermit exist.
1978 Partially Found CBS' unofficial airing of the Parade is found; however, NBC's broadcast remains lost.
1979 Partially Found The marching bands, Diana Ross' performance, Santa Claus and a clip of Underdog still exist.
1980 Partially Lost The majority of NBC's 1980 parade coverage is found, with approximately 55 minutes missing.




The 1959 Parade, the oldest surviving Parade in full.

Most of the 1976 Parade.

Parts of the 1972 Parade.

The intro, band performances and Santa Claus from the 1979 Parade.

Wrangler Belles performance from the 1971 parade.

Wrangler Belles performance from the 1973 parade.

Wrangler Belles performance from the 1977 parade and longer introduction to the 1977 Parade.

The Broadway Cast of Jimmy Performing "The Mayor of New York" in 1969.

Diana Ross's famous appearance in 1979.

Sinclair's Dino in the 1965 Parade.

The Village People performance in 1978.

Tom Turkey, known in 1974 as the Toy Turkey, makes his second appearance.

The Patriot Band performance in 1978.

The Independence High School 76th Cavalry Band in 1978.

The Salem High School Marching Band performance and Santa Claus in 1977.

Mason Reese's performance in 1975.

The Dover High School Tornado Band performance in 1972.

The Ohio Youth Choir in 1975

Audio of the Christian County High School Marching Colonels performance in 1975.

The Spring Branch Sr. High School Marching Band performance in 1974.

The Spring Branch Bruin Brigade performance in 1974.

Audio of the Carlisle High School Marching Band performance in 1967.

Short silent clips of the 1966 Parade.

See Also


External Links