Parade Features
Balloons

 

Balloons

Major Balloon Moments
Ever since the first balloons made their way down Broadway in 1927, these giant characters have been the signature features of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Most of them towering several stories high, the balloons delight children and adults with their sheer mass and their colorful representations of familiar figures.
Balloon Facts & Science

The first balloons were the creations of toy-maker and puppeteer Tony Sarg, who also designed the holiday animated display windows for Macy's. These early balloons were to supplement the zoo animals previously featured in the parade, as the more ferocious animals frightened small children.[1]

Starting with silent film cartoon star Felix the Cat, and culminating in balloons like the recent Bart Simpson and Garfield balloons, a large portion of the characters have been drawn from pop-culture. Of course there have been other figures as well, drawn from animals and familiar cultural and holiday icons. Over the years the menagerie has included cats, pigs, dachsunds, dragons, teddy bears, turkeys, toy soldiers, firemen, pirates, spacemen, clowns, and even ice-cream cones, among numerous others.
Since the 1980's there have also been a variety of Macy's signature star balloons in each procession. These display the symbol and name of the store for all to see.
The balloons play an essential role in the ubiquitous advertising that characterizes the parade. In addition to the publicity brought by the Macy star balloons, the majority of the character balloons are sponsored by companies seeking publicity for related products, services, or entertainment. Balloons like "Strike up the Band Barney" of Hit Entertainment and Spongebob Squarepants of Nickelodian entice spectators and potential shoppers to buy their toys and tune into their TV shows. There are even balloons directly representing marketing mascots, like the Cheesasaurus Rex balloon of Kraft, Ronald McDonald of McDonald's, and the Honey Bee balloon of General Mills Inc.'s Cheerios.

For more specific historical and factual information on the balloons, use the image links at the top of the page to visit "Major Balloon Moments" and "Balloon Science and Facts."


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[Images]
Snoopy image courtesy of:<http://www.nycvisit.com/content/index.cfm?pagePkey=805> © 2005 NYC & Company, Inc
Cloe the Clown image courtesy of: <http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/051123/480/nygb10511232201>
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Garfield image courtesy of:
Leo Cloutier <http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/macys_thanksgiving_day_parade>
Turkey image courtesy of:
Leo Cloutier <http://www.pbase.com/traderboynh/macys_thanksgiving_day_parade>
Macy's Stars image courtesy of:
<http://www.issues-mag.com/Nov_Dec/frameSetFile.php?filename=tv.shtml&department=entertainment>© 2001-2005 Issues Magazine.
All Rights Reserved.

Honey Bee image courtesy of:
Ronald McDonald image courtesy of:
< http://www-unix.ecs.umass.edu/~jfan/albums.html>
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[Citations]
[1] "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade History," New York City Vacation Package, n.d., <http://www.nycvp.com/frames/theater/thanksgiving_parade_info.htm> (6 December 2005).