For nine decades, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City has been a holiday staple, with millions of people every year lining the parade route and cheering the marchers, the floats and, of course, the true stars of the show — the huge, whimsical balloons kept in check by armies of what look, from on high, like Lilliputian handlers. On the eve of the 2012 edition of the parade, TIME.com offers a selection of vintage takes on the companionable seasonal spectacle.
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