This year is the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but the parade actually started back in 1924—it was dark between 1942 and 1944, due to World War II.
Time magazine pulled together some fun historical facts about the parade, including how WWII affected the event, "After the supply of natural rubber from Southeast Asia was cut off at the beginning of the war, the U.S. faced a major shortage. Consequently, the Macy’s balloons are deflated and donated to the government to support the war effort. The war also sees an increased demand for helium, which is required to inflate Navy patrol blimps, limiting its availability for less dire purposes."
1927: The first giant helium balloon, Felix the Cat, makes its debut at this year’s parade, replacing the real animals, which had proven to be less than enthused about their participation—as were some frightened young spectators. Because parade organizers in these early years have no plans for deflating the balloons, they allow them to float away. This decision proves to be one that requires rethinking, as many of the balloons pop shortly after release.
Macy's says, "Macy’s stopped the practice of letting the balloons go when a balloon got caught in the propeller of an airplane that was trying to catch it for the reward. The plane managed to safely land, but Macy’s never released the balloons again."
Here are some photographs of the parade in 1961—do kids today even know who Popeye is?