In 1924, the inaugural parade (originally known as the Macy's Christmas Parade and later the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade.) was staged by the store. Employees and professional entertainers marched from 145th Street in Harlem to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy's balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then "crowned" "King of the Kiddies." With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy's declared it would become an annual event.
In addition to the well-known balloons and floats, the Parade also features live music and other performances. College and high school marching bands from across the country participate in the parade, and the television broadcasts feature performances by famous singers and bands. The Radio City Rockettes are a classic performance as well.
On the NBC telecast from in front of the flagship Macy's store on Broadway and 34th Street, the marching bands perform live music but most of the other live acts use pre-recorded music with the performers lip-syncing their singing.