Thanksgiving Day 2017
People watch on as the Pillsbury Doughboy is deflated following the Thankgiving Day parade. Reuters

Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the annual holiday season in the United States. It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, the day before Black Friday. Several other places around the world, including Canada, Singapore, Philippines and Germany also observe similar celebrations. This year, the Thanksgiving Day falls on November 23, Thursday.

Talking about the Thanksgiving Day celebrations, one cannot afford to miss the the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that takes centre stage in New York City, with a pageant of floats, huge balloons and marching bands. Every year, millions of people gather to see the more than 1,500 dancers, 1,000s of clowns, and 30+ parade floats.

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In 2017, 91st annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be starting at 9am and ending at 12 noon. The event is such a famous one that apart from the visitors, another 50 million people are expected to watch live at their homes. Ahead of this year's extravaganza, IBTimes Singapore looks at some of the fascinating facts about this historic event.

  • The tradition started in 1924, when many employees at Macy's department store were first-generation immigrants and wanted to celebrate with the type of festivals celebrated in Europe.
  • The only years the parade didn't take place were during World War II in 1942, 1943, and 1944.
  • Felix the Cat was the first balloon to be featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in 1927.
  • Before balloons were features in the pageant, live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo were used – including elephants, bears and monkeys.
  • The balloons used to be released after the parade, but are now deflated by a dedicated team as of the risk they pose to aircraft.
  • The Thanksgiving parade was launched in 1924 by Louis Bamberger in Newark, New Jersey, at the Bamberger's store, but was moved to New York City by Macy's.
  • The balloons are constructed at the Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey.
  • The inaugural 1924 pageant was originally a Christmas parade, but was renamed the Thanksgiving Day Parade three years later.