The tradition of Broadway at the Macy’s parade dates back to 1934 with a balloon of actor/composer Eddie Cantor—the only balloon of a person to ever appear in the parade. He was at Macy’s waiting to see the balloon as it arrived, which also set precedent for celebrity appearances at the event.
“It really wasn’t until the ’70s that what you know as the Broadway performances at Macy’s really began,” says William Schermerhorn, VP/Creative Director of Macy’s Parade & Entertainment Group. Before that, Broadway actors did appear in the parade, but mostly on floats, and it wasn’t an annual tradition. For example, in 1950, when Boris Karloff starred in Peter Pan, he appeared on a pirate ship float as Captain Hook. When Judy Holliday was in Bells Are Ringing, she also appeared on a float. But since 1974, at least three shows have performed each year in front of the department store. “Macy’s is a very strong supporter of Broadway,” Schermerhorn says.
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