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Fun Facts About Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons
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.
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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
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.