All along Broadway in downtown Manhattan there are historic markers for each of the parades that have taken place over the years. The first parade took place in October 1886, and the most recent in February 2012.
Ticker Tape History
Ticker tape was used in the ticker tape machines to relay stock market prices. Every office in Wall Street had a few of these machines. When the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in October 1886, the celebration parade went up Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Many of the offices along Broadway were filled with stock brokers. As the parade passed underneath their windows, they ripped some of the ticker tape off and threw it out their windows onto the parade. It came down from the buildings like confetti. The ticker tape parade was born.
Ticker Tape Parades
The mayor of New York City gets to decide who to honor with a ticker tape parade. For the most part, ticker tape parades are held to celebrate important events, such at the first landing on the moon, the end of World War II or visiting dignitaries. In the 1950s, these parades were particularly commonplace. In 1951 and 1962, there were 9 parades each year. 1949, 1954 and 1959 each boasted 8 parades. Sometimes parades were separated by as few as 3 or 4 days!
The ticker tape machine was replaced decades ago with the digital stock ticker. The old machines, along with their tape, are now extremely rare. Although we still hold the parades on Broadway, spectators at modern parades no longer have access to large quantities of the ticker tape. A few resourceful people in offices along Broadway find confetti to throw onto the parade. Mostly, however, the crowds throw toilet paper rolls and newspapers.
Ticker Tape Parade Website