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Macy's Thanksgiving parade commemorates September 11

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade dates back to 1924.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade dates back to 1924.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Set against a backdrop of a nation recovering from the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began Thursday on the streets of New York City.

This year, organizers said the parade will memorialize the attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

New additions to the parade are a Statue of Liberty float with the flags of all 50 states, floats for New York City fire and police department members, and a special Big Apple Float which will have members of the city's emergency services as well as other prominent city officials and dignitaries.

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The parade features a total of 15 giant balloons, 22 sponsored floats and balloons (half float half cold air balloon), 12 bands, hundreds of clowns, and an appearance by Santa Claus.

The tradition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924, with a handful of Macy's workers who wished to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with a parade through central Manhattan. The first large balloon appeared in 1927 with Felix the Cat.

Balloons will be banned from the parade altogether if winds exceed 23 mph.

More than seven decades later, hundreds of parade volunteers will march south on the two and a half mile route.

The parade began at 9 a.m. at 77th Street, goes south on Central Park West to Columbus Circle, south on Broadway, through Times Square, and finally ends in front of the Macy's flagship store in Herald Square at W. 34th Street.


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