Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seeing Double for Thanksgiving

With the winter holidays upon us, we thought we’d take a look at the collection to see what we had related to law enforcement and Thanksgiving.

Stereograph image of large, helium-filled cop balloon in Boston Thanksgiving Day Santason parade

Photo, stereoview, 1938. 2006.369.1. Collection of the NLEM, Washington, DC.

The photograph is a 1938 stereo photograph, made to be looked at with a viewer for a three-dimensional effect. The photo was taken at the 1938 Boston Thanksgiving Day parade on Beacon Street. The white building wing peeking out of the right side of the images is the Boston State House annex that dates from 1917. The men who are holding the tether lines are dressed either as convicts (in striped clothing) or as law enforcement officers (in keystone cops helmets).

While we don’t yet know what organization sponsored this parade, it appears to be in keeping with New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. We have been able to find one other photograph of what appears to be the same balloon in the New York Macy’s parade from the year before (1937) at the Corbis collection. The tether holders in that photograph are dressed as keystone cops.

If you have any information on this parade, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


  1. I have about 5 minutes of 8mm film of the 1938 Santason Parade from my great aunt's film collection that was given to me. I am in the process of converting it to digital media. I hope to find the "Cop" balloon on the reel. Do you know what the name Santason stands for?

  2. Shawn, if you do find the cop balloon on your film footage, please let us know! We'd love to see it. We have not been able to track down what "Santason" means. From various clues, it may be that "Santason" was a popular toy or figure used to advertise for Christmas in the 1930s. There are references in the Boston area, as well as Ohio, to "Santason" in connection with local department stores. In Boston, the Jordan Marsh Department Store sponsored the Thanksgiving Day parade. Sorry we can't offer more information!

  3. I found film of the cop balloon on my family reels. It will take a few weeks to get it transferred to a digital restoration. I took a pic off a 8mm photo editor screen, not good, but it is the same day and cop balloon. There is about 30 sec of film on the balloon. Please go to my site to see it next to the stereo view pic.


  4. Shawn,
    How cool is that?! Thanks for sharing! I hope you found some great footage of your family members, too.