The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become as much of an American tradition as turkey and stuffing. Every year since 1924 the streets of New York have been dazzled by giant character balloons, floats, marching bands and later, the Rockettes. These photographs explore the history of what has become one of America’s most beloved parades, now with more than three million New Yorkers watching along the route and an additional 50 million television viewers.

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‘Andy the Alligator’ in the 1933 parade seems dwarfed in size compared to the balloons of today. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

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Mickey Mouse made his first debut in this 1934 parade. The original caption that ran in the NY Daily News for this photo read, the “parade was so large this year it took an hour to pass”. (Credit: NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

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According to the NY Daily News, this 1937 parade featured seven musical organizations, twenty-one floats and balloon units and 400 costumed marchers. (Credit: Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

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The Tin Man made his debut months after the release of “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939. This photo was taken from the sixth story of a Times Square building as the parade went past. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

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The crew prepare to erect the giant inflatable Macy’s clown for the Macy’s Parade in 1942. It’s still tradition today for New Yorkers to watch the balloons being inflated and prepared the night before the big show. (Credit: Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images; Art Whittaker/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

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An NBC camera set up to film the 1945 parade from a rooftop. (Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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Kids were delighted by the clowns and costumes that walked along Central Park West at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, 1949. (Credit: George Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

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This helium-filled Space Cadet, coming in at 70 feet tall, was indicative of the newest adventure interests of America’s kids in 1952. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

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Not all animals were larger than life balloons. A group of elephants participated in the 1954 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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Radio City Rockettes filled stockings on this 1958 parade float. (Credit: Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

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The Thanksgiving Turkey accompanied by a marching band make their way through Times Square, 1959. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

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It wouldn’t be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as we know it without a performance by the Rockettes, 1964. (Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)