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+---Topic: Mickey's 1st Macy's Parade started by RichKoster

Posted by: RichKoster on Nov. 27, 2003 3:29 am/pm

Up, Up, and Away

Mickey soared six stories high, a grinning goodwill ambassador from sunny California

In the fall of 1934, with winter fast approaching and the Great Depression entering its sixth year, New Yorkers were eager for distraction. A 55-foot-tall Mickey Mouse helped provide it.  

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (then called Macy's Christmas Parade) was launched in the good old days of 1924 as a way to herald the start of the shopping season. The first one, featuring floats, bands, and zoo animals, attracted thousands of spectators. By 1927 giant balloons had replaced the live animals.  

For the 1934 parade, theatrical designer and Macy's window dresser Tony Sarg teamed up with Walt Disney Productions to create the first set of Disney balloons. Joining Mickey for that stroll down Broadway were Pluto, the Big Bad Wolf, and one of the charismatic pigs from the "Three Little Pigs" cartoon, which had been a runaway hit the previous year. (The Mouse would return in 1974 and again in 2000, when Bandleader Mickey served as a millennium mascot for Macy's.)  

Modeled after a doll created by designer Charlotte Clark, Mickey soared six stories high, a grinning goodwill ambassador from sunny California. Splurging families could buy the doll at Macy's. For everyone else that cash-strapped year, the sight of burly wranglers guiding the helium-filled wonder through Manhattan's canyons provided an unforgettable thrill for free. More than a million people took advantage.


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