Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with the most recent information.
The Macy’s parade in New York often gets all the attention and credit on Thanksgiving Day, but not many people realize that the very first Thanksgiving Day parade took place in Philadelphia in 1920.
Led by Ellis Gimbel, a co-founder of Gimbels Department Store, the first parade consisted of just 50 dressed up employees who traveled from the Philadelphia Museum of Art down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, ultimately ending at Gimbels at Eighth and Market streets.
As the parade’s popularity grew over the years, Gimbels brought in some pretty epic floats, marching bands, and more, leading other stores to follow in their footsteps throughout the country. Macy’s in New York hosted their first parade four years later 1924.
The Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade almost didn’t happen in 1986, when the department store was bought by Sterns. Fortunately, ABC decided to take over and remains the main sponsor to this day. That year was also the first time the parade reversed its route. Now, the route starts at 20th and JFK Boulevard and ends at the art museum.
In honor of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, take a look at some of the floats that have made their way up and down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, starting in 1954.