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Fun Facts About Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons

Updated on June 28, 2011

First Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - No Balloons

Millions of people watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade every year promptly at 9 a.m. eastern standard time. It has become a time honored holiday tradition in many families. Some of the biggest hits of the Macy's Parade are the famous helium Macy's Parade balloons.

Read on for fun facts about Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons. Scroll down to see Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons pics.

The original Macy's Thanksgiving parade didn't include any balloons. Instead, there were live animals borrowed from the zoo.

Facts About the Earliest Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloons

Felix the Cat was the first Macy's parade balloon. Felix the Cat balloon was designed by Tony Sarg. Sarg was a theater set designer. He was also hired to create the artistic Macy's store window displays during the Christmas season.

Some of the other first balloons present in the Thanksgiving parade included a toy soldier, dragon, and elephant. These first balloons were filled with air instead of helium. Since Macy's started using helium for their parade balloons, they are second only to the United States government in helium usage.

The first time that helium was used for balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the balloons burst when they were released at the end of the parade. It hadn't occurred to anyone that helium expands at higher altitudes. The balloons were designed with a safety valve from then on to allow the helium to escape slowly.

In 1958, there was a helium shortage. So the Macy's parade balloons were filled with air instead. Then they were kept afloat with large cranes.

The earliest Macy's Thanksgiving balloons were released at the end of the parade. Whoever found the balloons received a prize from Macy's. This practice was discontinued after a pilot almost crashed trying to retrieve one of  the released Macy's Thanksgiving balloons.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons - Before the Parade

All Macy's parade balloons start out as simple illustrations. These are analyzed by aerodynamics engineers for feasibility of flight. Then a clay model is built to scale. Next, a polyurethane model is assembled. Finally, the parade balloon is made. If it survives its test flight, it will get to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

More than 1,000 volunteers help in setting up and handling the balloons for the Macy's parade. Just like the original Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, many of the parade volunteers are Macy's employees. They help inflate the huge helium balloons the night before the Thanksgiving Day parade, which takes hours.

The massive Thanksgiving Day parade balloons weigh hundreds of pounds. The balloons require many handlers each. Some of them have 50 people helping to guide them along the parade route.

Popular Macy's Thanksgiving Day Helium Balloons

Some of the most popular Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons are classic cartoon characters. They include Bullwinkle, Snoopy, and Mickey Mouse. Other cartoon Macy's parade balloons are Pink Panther, Charlie Brown, Woody Woodpecker, and Bugs Bunny. More recent cartoon characters appearing as balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade are Bart Simpson, Pikachu, Garfield, Shrek, and Spongebob Squarepants.

Disney has been in conjunction with Macy's since Mickey Mouse was designed as a balloon for the famous parade in 1934. Tony Sarg, creator of the original famous Macy's balloons, and Disney worked together to create the Mickey Mouse parade balloon. Other Disney balloons that appeared in the same parade were Pluto, The Big Bad Wolf, and a Little Pig.

The Mickey Mouse balloon was not allowed to appear in the 1971 Macy's parade. The wind was too strong. Wind also caused the Cat in the Hat balloon to crash into a street light in 1997. One unlucky parade onlooker suffered serious injuries, including being in a coma.

Modern times affected the Macy's parade in 1993 with the introduction of the first video game character to be turned into a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloon- Sonic the Hedgehog. Then the world wide web hit the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade in 1999. That is when the Ask Jeeves helium balloon was seen floating in the famous parade.

Time Honored Thanksgiving Traditions - The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

This year when you sit down to watch the parade and those famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, you will be participating in a tradition that is close to a hundred years old. Hopefully, it is a holiday tradition that will continue for at least another century.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons Photos

Garfield Thanksgiving Parade Balloon
Garfield Thanksgiving Parade Balloon | Source
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon- Shrek
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon- Shrek | Source
Classic Macy's Parade Balloon- Charlie Brown
Classic Macy's Parade Balloon- Charlie Brown | Source
Setting up Kermit helium Macy's Thanksgiving parade balloon
Setting up Kermit helium Macy's Thanksgiving parade balloon | Source

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    • lyjo profile image

      lyjo 6 years ago

      That's really awesome, pictures are great, thanks, take good care,

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 6 years ago

      When I was still watching television I used to watch this. It is always such a grand production. Thanks for reminding and love the pictures.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Getting to be "that time of the year." Thanks for the information and pictures.

    • Angela Harris profile image
      Author

      Angela Harris 6 years ago from Around the USA

      You're welcome and thanks, everyone.

    • schoolmarm profile image

      schoolmarm 6 years ago from Florida

      I really enjoy holiday trivia. Thank you for this timely and interesting hub.

    • profile image

      Tbxxxnxmsmkxk1111116 6 years ago

      duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh post it up!!

    • profile image

      awesomo guy 6 years ago

      i lie pie

    • BetsyAndTV profile image

      BetsyAndTV 6 years ago from The Television

      This is a great hub! I would never have guessed that the balloons weigh hundreds of pounds! Crazy. That photo of the Shrek balloon is amazing!

    • profile image

      cupcake 5 years ago

      I love macy's Thanksgiving day parade and their balloons and thank you guys for watching macy's thanksgiving day parader

    • profile image

      cupcake 5 years ago

      I love macy's Thanksgiving day parade and their balloons and thank you guys for watching macy's thanksgiving day parader

    • profile image

      loosaface 5 years ago

      I be really enjoy thou postings of thous macys thanksgiving parade balloons of thou arts pictures

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 4 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Shrek balloon is awesome!

    • profile image

      erik 4 years ago

      Macy's in America ruthless as Bugsy Siegel

      MACY’S RECIPES FOR HIRING PEOPLE AND ABUSING THEM

      Macy’s managers are well paid to abuse Macy’s workers and employees

      Macy’s managers enjoy the good life, driving very expensive cars, getting high as much as they want to and promotes violation of labor laws for Macy’s benefits with the advised of some lawyers working on the Labor Laws ethical borderline

      Very well paid Macy’s managers abusing a lot of employees justifies their very high salary, because they are saving a lot of money to maintain a large number of employees paid at the minimum wage and making a lot of profits on its sales as well on the low wages paid to employees.

      No employee hourly increases, in other words nobody gets a dime, never, even after working many years for Macy’s and having an excellent performance on the job

      Macy’s profits came from a combination of paying low wages to employees and very high mark ups of cheap merchandise bought from Asia

      Violations of labor laws is the norm at Macy’s and well and cheating and deceiving.

      Macy’s is having Lawsuits for paying less hours that the hours worked by the employee. Not one case, but on many cases on employees working in the USA

      Also taking more deductions than the law allows on employees paychecks

      HOW YOU CALL A COMPANY DOING CHEATING AND DECEIVING AND BREAKING THE LAWS?

      “I know the name you have in mind, but unfortunately you can not say it here, because it is a bad word and some people may feel offended by that”

      The best you can do is not shopping at Macy’s

      Show Macy’s smart ass managers getting high all the time, who is the boss!

      Macy’s without customers, won’t go anywhere and Macy’s managers will not get the money to buy the drugs to get high and doing illegal things on employees

      But obviously, Macy’s managers are receiving orders from the CEO or others very important people at Macy’s to act illegally

      Is Macy’s the new ruthless Bugsy Siegel gangster in America?

      MACY’S, WHEN A DOG STILL AT LARGE!

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