As of 1927, when the company stopped using live animals, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade had included giant balloons.
At first, Macy’s would let their balloons go at the end of the parade, but they soon decided it would be more easier (and safer) to keep using the same balloons year after year.
Which Balloon Character has Flown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade More Times than any Other?
The parade features many well-known figures from cartoons and popular culture, but we’ve narrowed it down to five of the most recognisable balloons.
There are some classics among the balloons, and there are also some newer additions, but they are all wonderful additions to the Thanksgiving celebration.
This year was the first in which the beloved beagle Snoopy did not appear in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Snoopy has participated in 39 parades thus far, using seven distinct balloons each time.
In honour of the year 2000 and the 75th anniversary of the parade, Snoopy has dressed up as an aviator, an astronaut, and an ice skater. Snoopy has been featured on multiple floats, often alongside his Peanuts pals.
As balloons, Woodstock and Charlie Brown have also made appearances in the procession, albeit much less frequently than Snoopy.
That Lovable Mouse, Mickey
Since Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognisable cartoon characters of all time, he has been a staple of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for many years.
Since his debut in 1934, Mickey has worn four distinct balloon iterations. In the 1960s, Mickey’s friend (and major opponent) Donald Duck temporarily took over, but Donald’s left wing was ruptured by a tree, and thus Donald retired.
The next year, Mickey participated in the parade again, prompting speculation that he may have had a hand in Donald’s “accident.”
Felipe the Feline
In the history of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Felix the Cat was the first cartoon figure to be included as a balloon. As early as 1927, Macy’s decided to employ balloons instead of real animals from the Central Park Zoo, likely due to the realisation that transporting caged animals throughout Manhattan was inhumane and a bad idea.
As the inaugural parade’s artistic director, Anthony Frederick Sarg conceived of Felix and a number of other inflatable animals to serve as main attractions. The early balloons, like Felix, were filled with oxygen rather than helium, so they had to be steered by sticking them into the ground.
The Felix balloon has a unique role in Macy’s parade history, despite the fact that he hasn’t participated in the parade since the 1920s.
Pikachu did not make his first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade until 2001, but the electric rodent has since become a staple of the parade thanks to the success of the Pokemon franchise.
The second balloon Pikachu ever created was the first of its kind to incorporate light-up features, and the balloon’s glowing cheeks were a prime example of its electrical prowess.
Pikachu has been dressing up for the holidays recently, donning a scarf and even a snowman hat and body.
Mc Donald, Ronald
Since 1987, Ronald McDonald has made an appearance in nearly every Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, uniting two things beloved by Americans: fast food and clowns.
The silly McDonald’s mascot has been through four balloons, several of which met with untimely demise. Both Ronalds had unfortunate mishaps; one with a tree and the loss of an arm, and the other with a skate blowout.
Perhaps Macy’s should rethink bringing huge clowns to Manhattan with all the recent balloon mishaps.