Book Review

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
By Robert M. Grippo and Christopher Hoskins
Arcadia Publishing, 2004
Softcover, 160 pp., $21.99

“Let’s have a parade” is the phrase that begins a beloved American tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1924, employees of the R.H. Macy and Company store in New York City’s Herald Square, many of whom were immigrants and first-generation Americans, chose to give thanks for their good fortune in a manner reminiscent of the festive parades held in their native countries. The excitement and praise from crowds lining the route that first year led Macy’s to issue an immediate proclamation: the parade would become a tradition.

Before the parade’s first decade passed, Macy’s welcomed the huge and spectacular helium character balloons that became its goodwill ambassadors. Since then, the parade has become a world famous. Through more than 240 stunning vintage images, the authors of the new book, “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” capture the wonder that is the annual tradition of the parade and share the its history through nostalgic and present day images.

Highlights include:

• Rare photographs, many never before published or seen by the public.

• Photos from the historical New York Daily News Archives.

• Vintage advertisements not seen since their original publication.

Author Robert M. Grippo has participated in the parade since 2001 as a volunteer clown and has been researching the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for many years. His first year as a clown was just two months after Sept. 11. The parade that year drew record crowds and those who gathered remembered the victims of the tragedy and paid tribute to the heroes of the day.

“I have been a fan of the parade since the age of 4. The year was 1965 and it was Underdog’s first flight in balloon form,” Grippo says. “Underdog was, and still is, my favorite cartoon character.”

He compiled this work with the help of Christopher Hoskins, a professional photographer who also worked for Macy’s in the early 1980s and who was a volunteer balloon handler in the parade during his years there. It took the pair nearly seven years to complete the project.

“Looking back, I now know how Indiana Jones felt about finding lost artifacts in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He discovered one treasure trove in Akron, Ohio. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which had built the big balloons from 1927 until the early 1980s, had donated their archives to the University of Akron and the photo find was “spectacular,” Grippo says. He found even more rare photos at the Ballard Institute of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut.

“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” brings a unique and dramatic collection of historical images to print, hopefully triggering parade memories and making the event available to everyone to remember.