The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a proud tradition that dates back to 1924, making it the second oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. One of the parade's oldest traditions are its iconic balloons, which lumber through the streets of Manhattan like corporate sponsored monsters. While many of these balloons have delighted countless parade-goers and TV watchers, a few of these balloons are....well, terrifying.
Here are five of the stranger balloons to ever appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:
This horrifying creature is supposed to be Pinocchio, the wooden boy whose nose grew whenever he told a lie. While Disney depicted Pinocchio's growing nose like a broomstick, Macy's version of the balloon used a much more....bulbous nose. Measuring at 44 feet long, Pinocchio's nose was about the size of the rest of his body and was kept tethered to the ground by most of the balloon's guidestrings.
Pinocchio's enormous nose appeared in parades for several years. Its first appearance was in 1935, and video exists of the balloon floating through Manhattan a few years later.prevnext
As one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th century, Superman has made several appearances as a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Superman made his first appearance in 1931...although he barely resembles the superhero as we know him. With a widow's peak instead of a spit curl and no cape, the original Superman balloon stomped his way across New York until at least 1940 before he was eventually replaced with a slightly more grotesque look. In a funny twist, Macy's repurposed the Superman balloon in 1932 and transformed him into an equally ugly football player for a couple of years.
Sadly, the Superman balloons aren't quite as invulnerable as his real life counterpart. Superman was one of several balloons to suffer a grizly fate in the 1985 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, when high winds pushed the balloon into a tree. Superman lost a hand in the tree attack, perhaps foreshadowing the character's death just a decade later.prevnext
Barney the Dinosaur
Kids were mortified when Barney the dinosaur died a grizzly death on live television in 1997. That year, high winds led to several balloon accidents, including Barney getting gutted in the side by a lamp post. As the video above shows, Barney didn't last very long after the lamp post ripped a massive hole in its stomach.
Sadly, balloons did more that year than traumatize children. A Cat in the Hat balloon crashed into a streetlight, sending debris into the crowd and putting one woman into a coma for over a month. That accident led to Macy's placing regulations on its balloons, requiring that all balloons be less than 80 feet long.prevnext
Let's face it, advertising has always been a secondary motive of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Corporate partners have always lined up for the chance to turn their mascot into a giant canvas monstrosity filled with hot air or helium. The parades during the "Dot Com" years had plenty of short-lived mascots, ranging from Pet.com's sock puppet to the Ask Jeeves's British butler.
Ask Jeeves was the first Internet inspired balloon and smugly floated his way through Manhattan from 1999 to at least 2004. After the dotcom bubble burst, Jeeves and many of his counterparts were sent to the great balloon factory in the sky. Less than two years after his balloon counterpart retired from the parade. Jeeves himself was sent into retirement when Ask Jeeves rebranded itself as Ask.com.prevnext
According to the New York Public Library, this creature is supposed to be an alligator. But it looks nothing like an alligator. It has a bushy tail, a short face, and fangs made to murder with a smile. Maybe it's supposed to be a dinosaur, or a weird spotted leopard, or maybe...this balloon is the thing that nightmares are made of.
First spotted in 1931, this creature showed off several several points of articulation in the neck, so its head could turn from side to side. Given how scary this thing looked, it's no wonder that it quickly disappeared to wherever monsters go to hide.prev