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Balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons 001 560x373The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in an annual New York City tradition that started in 1924 and has been broadcast nationally on NBC since 1952. It’s one of the largest tourist attractions in New York for the holidays, and has an estimated in-person audience of 3.5 million people each year. The Thanksgiving staple is full of floats, festive performances, and our personal favorite, the Ballons. It’s a bucket list item that I’m proud to have crossed off as a teenager, and something that you simply must see in person to fully appreciate.

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The balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come in three varieties. The first and oldest is the novelty balloon class, consisting of smaller balloons, some of which fit on the heads of the performers; the largest of the novelty balloons typically require approximately 30 handlers. The second, and most famous, is the full-size balloon class, primarily consisting of licensed pop-culture characters; each of these is handled by exactly 90 people. The third and most recent is the “Blue Sky Gallery,” in which the works of contemporary artists are transformed into full-size balloons.

Below we’ve collected an awesome 120 photo gallery of Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons from over the years, followed with an exhaustive list, courtesy of Wikipedia. While we didn’t get them all, we came pretty damn close…

The following is a list of balloons that have, over the years, been featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sorted by their first year in the lineup. Underlined items indicate entries in the Blue Sky Gallery.

  • 1927: Felix the Cat
  • 1931: Mama, Papa and Baby
  • 1934: Mickey Mouse
  • 1935: The Marx Brothers (after Zeppo Marx’s departure), Donald Duck
  • 1937: Dragon
  • 1938: Uncle Sam
  • 1939: Superman
  • 1940: Eddie Cantor, one of only two balloons based on a living person or people,[13] The Tin Man, Pinocchio, Happy Hippo
  • 1945: Harold the Clown (1st version)
  • 1946: Harold the Baseball Player (2nd version)
  • 1947: Artie the Pirate, Harold the Police officer (3rd version); Kit, Charlie and C.J. Elf Gnomes
  • 1948: Harold the Fireman (4th version)
  • 1949: Toy soldier
  • 1950: Freida the Dachshund
  • 1951: Lucky Pup, Mighty Mouse, Fried fish
  • 1954: Spaceman
  • 1957: Popeye
  • 1960: Happy Dragon
  • 1961: Bullwinkle J. Moose
  • 1962: Donald Duck (2nd version)
  • 1963: Sinclair Oil Dinosaur, Elsie the Cow
  • 1964: Linus the Lionhearted
  • 1965: Underdog
  • 1966: Smokey Bear, Superman (2nd version)
  • 1968: Aviator Snoopy
  • 1972: Smile (Happy Face), Mickey Mouse (2nd version), Astronaut Snoopy (2nd version, a tribute to Apollo 11)
  • 1975: Weeble
  • 1976: Hello Kitty
  • 1977: Kermit the Frog
  • 1980: Superman (3rd version, largest balloon to appear in parade)
  • 1982: Olive Oyl with Swee’Pea (first female character in parade history), Woody Woodpecker
  • 1983: Yogi Bear
  • 1984: Garfield, Raggedy Ann
  • 1985: Betty Boop, Ornament Novelty Balloons
  • 1986: Baby Shamu, Humpty Dumpty
  • 1987: Spider-Man,[14] Ronald McDonald, Snuggle Bear, Skating Snoopy (3rd version), Ice Cream Cone Novelty Balloon
  • 1988: Big Bird, Pink Panther, Snoopy (4th version) with Woodstock, Nesquik Bunny
  • 1989: Bugs Bunny
  • 1990: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bart Simpson
  • 1991: Babar the Elephant
  • 1992: Santa Goofy
  • 1993: Beethoven (dog), Rex, Sonic the Hedgehog (first video game character in parade history), Izzy
  • 1994: Barney the Dinosaur, The Cat in the Hat
  • 1995: Dudley the Dragon, SkyDancer, Eben Bear
  • 1996: Rocky and Bullwinkle (2nd version), Peter Rabbit
  • 1997: Arthur, Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster and Spike, Bumpé
  • 1998: Babe the Pig, Wild Thing, Dexter
  • 1999: Millennium Snoopy (5th version), Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, Blue’s Clues, Petunia Pig
  • 2000: Bandleader Mickey Mouse (3rd version), Ronald McDonald (2nd version), Jeeves, Cassie Dragon Tales
  • 2001: Curious George, Big Bird (2nd version), Jimmy Neutron, Pikachu, Cheesasaurus Rex,
  • 2002: Kermit the Frog (2nd version), Little Bill, Rich Uncle Pennybags, Charlie Brown
  • 2003: (Strike up the Band) Barney (2nd version), Super Grover, Garfield (2nd version)
  • 2004: SpongeBob SquarePants, M&M’s, Chicken Little
  • 2005: Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo, Healthy Mr. Potato Head, JoJo, Tom Otterness’s “Humpty Dumpty”
  • 2006: Pikachu with Poké Ball (2nd version), Energizer Bunny, Flying Ace Snoopy (6th version)
  • 2007: Shrek, Hello Kitty, Abby Cadabby, Novelty pumpkins, Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit”
  • 2008: Horton the Elephant, Buzz Lightyear, Smurf, Keith Haring’s “Figure with Heart”
  • 2009: Pillsbury Doughboy, Sailor Mickey Mouse (4th version), Ronald McDonald (3rd version), Spider-Man (2nd version)[14]
  • 2010: Greg Heffley, Po from Kung Fu Panda, Virginia O’Hanlon, Takashi Murakami’s “Kaikai and Kiki”
  • 2011: Sonic the Hedgehog (second version), Paul Frank’s “Julius The Sock Monkey”, Tim Burton’s “B”
  • 2012: Hello Kitty (second version), Papa Smurf, The Elf on the Shelf, Kaws’s “Companion”, Happy Dragon (second version), Novelty pumpkins (second version)
  • 2013: Snoopy with Woodstock (seventh version), The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary, Finn and Jake, SpongeBob SquarePants (second version), Toothless the Dragon, Happy Hippo (second version)
  • 2014: Pikachu Holiday version (third version), Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington Bear, Skylanders, Red Power Ranger.
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