Tag Archives: Thanksgiving Day Parade

How Thanksgiving In New York Used To Be Celebrated

Many Years Before Macy’s Held Their Annual Thanksgiving Parade New York City Children Used To Dress In Costume And Beg For Money

A Forgotten New York Thanksgiving Tradition – Ragamuffin Day

New York City children dressed in costume for Thanksgiving 1933 photo Percy Loomis Sperr

On Bleecker Street New York City children dressed in costume for Thanksgiving 1933 photo Percy Loomis Sperr

“Please mister, a penny or a nickel for Thanksgiving?”

This request was once heard all around New York City from children dressed in outlandish costumes celebrating Thanksgiving. It came to be known as Ragamuffin Day.

Thanksgiving subway kiosk 1933

Christopher Street near subway kiosk Thanksgiving 1933

When it started exactly is unclear. It was reported in 1870 costumed men were celebrating Evacuation Day a day early on Thanksgiving, November 24. Evacuation Day commemorated the November 25 anniversary of the British forces leaving New York after the Revolutionary War. Evacuation Day was a major holiday in New York until 1888.

The men in costume who paraded about were called “the Fantasticals.” But why would they be in costume? The answer is somewhat convoluted. The costumes were not really about Thanksgiving or Evacuation Day. This was related more to Guy Fawkes Day celebrated November 5 in England. In the United States, Guy Fawkes day was celebrated with anti-Catholic sentiment, burning an effigy of the Pope. Even though the holidays are weeks apart, the proximity of Guy Fawkes Day to Thanksgiving Day and Evacuation Day is thought to be responsible for the strange combination of these distinct holidays. However the American Fantasticals did not beg for money. ¬† Continue reading

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade In 1936

How The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons Looked in 1936 – Snapshots Taken From Broadway & 92nd Street

Macy's Parade 1936 120 foot long Dragon balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 120 foot long Dragon balloon

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924. In 1928 helium filled balloons made their first appearance. By the early 1930’s over one million people were attending the parade.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade held on November 26, 1936 was quite a different affair than it is today.

At 1 pm on 110th Street near the south wall of The Church of St. John the Divine just off of Amsterdam Avenue, the paraders and balloons lined up and made their way west to Broadway. The parade route then remained on Broadway for its entire length until it reached Herald Square. There were 2,311 policemen assigned special parade duty along the route, with mounted men to lead the march and bring up the rear. As incredible as this may seem, on the main crosstown arteries of 34th, 42nd and 59th streets, traffic was let through, even if it meant temporarily halting the parade.

Macy's Parade 1936 Indian Balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 Indian Balloon

Macy's Parade 1936 Turkey Balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 Turkey Balloon

Macy's Parade 1936 Two Headed Giant

Macy’s Parade 1936 Two Headed Giant

 

 

 

 

 

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