I should've posted this closer to, you know, Thanksgiving, but time got away from me.
Apparently people were, in fact, looking for puppeteers in the wintry economic climate of the late '20s:
The Macy's parade started in 1924, but in 1927 its collaboration with Tony Sarg took things way up a few whimsical notches. Working with fellow puppeteer Bil Baird, a 60-foot balloon dragon, tottering Felix the Cat, hummingbird, and other buoyant wonders made their way down the Manhattan streets, and the crowds went wild.
[...] Sarg also worked on the annual Macy's holiday window displays from 1935 to 1942, the year he died of appendicitis. He considered the balloons "giant, upside down marionettes," and saw no limits to what they could do. Each year of the Macy's parade, he added new fanciful figures, ever more animated like a policeman shaking a nightstick, a 20-foot elephant, and a sea monster. (Source)
Many cool photos at the link! And this video: