In Pictures: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade • Magnum Photos

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In Pictures: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

A look back at the annual parade over the years through the lenses of Magnum photographers

Magnum Photographers

Burt Glinn The Thanksgiving Day parade. New York City, USA. 1987. © Burt Glinn | Magnum Photos
Burt Glinn Balcony overlooking the Thanksgiving Day Parade on Central Park West. New York City, USA. 1992. © Burt Glinn | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1988. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1988. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Burt Glinn Balcony overlooking the Thanksgiving Day Parade on Central Park West. New York City, USA. 1992. © Burt Glinn | Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota Thanksgiving Day Parade on Central Park West. New York City, USA. 1991. © Hiroji Kubota | Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1988. © Hiroji Kubota | Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1988. © Hiroji Kubota | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Erich Hartmann The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, seen at Coumbus Avenue and 78th Street. New York City, USA. 1990. © Erich Hartmann | Magnum Photos
Philip Jones Griffiths Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1986. © Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos
Elliott Landy Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York City, USA. 1968. © Elliott Landy | Magnum Photos

The oldest Thanksgiving parade in the US may be Philadelphia’s Dunkin’ Donuts Parade, but, ever since its inception in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become, by far, the most famous. Growing to attract an audience of more than 3.5 million to the streets of New York, it was first televised nationally in 1952. Today it also draws an international viewership of over 50 million.

Now a mainstay of the spectacle, the giant, helium-filled balloons featuring cartoon characters and figures from pop-culture made their debut in 1927, when they were famously released during the event’s grand finale only to swiftly deflate atop the crowds below. At ground level, the parade is a vibrant succession of floats, marching bands, and vocal and dance performances, weaving its way from Upper Manhattan to Midtown West, where an appearance by Santa Claus concludes the celebrations.

Here we look back at the many reincarnations of the event over the years as seen through the lenses of a diverse range of Magnum photographers. From Elliott Erwitt’s playful photo capturing the giant, profile of a Snoopy balloon passing the window of an Upper West Side apartment, to a group of men tending to a float of the statue of Liberty. These images capture the vitality and scale of the parade and the crowds of New-Yorkers and tourists alike who flock to watch it.