Giant balloons have been a part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade since 1927, when Macy's discontinued use of live animals in their parade. Macy's released their early balloons into the air at the end of the parade, but they quickly realized that it was much easier (and safer) to reuse the balloons year after year.
Many popular cartoon and pop culture characters have appeared in the parade many times, so we've picked out the five most iconic balloons. Some are older balloons, while others are more recent editions, but all are great parts of a great Thanksgiving tradition.
Although Snoopy didn't appear in this year's parade, the beloved beagle has appeared in more Macy's Thanksgiving Parades than any other character. To date, Snoopy has appeared in 39 different parades as seven different balloons. Snoopy has appeared as an aviator, an astronaut, and an ice skater, and has also been dressed up to celebrate the year 2000 and the parade's 75th anniversary. Snoopy has also appeared on several floats, usually accompanied by the rest of the Peanuts gang.
Woodstock and Charlie Brown has also appeared in the parade as balloons, although not nearly with the same frequency as Snoopy.prevnext
Mickey Mouse is arguably the best known cartoon character of all time, so of course he has a long history in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Mickey made his first appearance in 1934 and has had four different balloons over the years. Mickey was briefly replaced in the 1960s by his friend (and chief rival) Donald Duck until Donald's left wing was ruptured by a tree, forcing his retirement. Mickey returned to the parade the following year, raising speculation that the happy go lucky mouse might have something to do with Donald's "accident".prevnext
Felix the Cat
Felix the Cat was the first cartoon character to ever appear as a balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1927, Macy's decided to replace live animals from the Central Park Zoo with balloons, probably because they realized that carting around caged animals around Manhattan was both cruel and a really terrible idea. That first year, parade artistic director Anthony Frederick Sarg designed Felix and several other inflatable animals to serve as major attractions for the parade. Felix and other early balloons were filled with oxygen instead of helium, so they had to be propped up with sticks instead of guided with balloons.
Although Felix stopped appearing in the parade in the 1920s, the balloon still holds a special place in Macy's parade lore.prevnext
Although Pikachu didn't appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade until 2001, the electric rodent quickly became a regular part of the parade thanks to the popularity of the Pokemon franchise. Pikachu's second balloon was the first balloon to ever have light up features, as its cheeks lit up to show off its electric capabilities. Recently, Pikachu has sported a holiday theme, complete with a scarf and an adorable Pikachu snowman.prevnext
Ronald McDonald has been a part of almost every Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade since 1987, bringing together America's love of fast food and clowns. To date, the goofy McDonald's mascot has had four balloons, although several have suffered unfortunate mishaps. One Ronald lost his arm in an accident with a tree, while another suffered a skate blowout. Maybe all these balloon accidents are a sign that Macy's shouldn't bring giant clowns to Manhattan.prev