Macy's Day Parade Balloons

The Uncle Sam balloon marks the beginning of the parade.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade NYC

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Balloons that have appeared at the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in years past include: “Strike Up the Band” Barney; Macy's holiday ambassador Super Grover and his Sesame Street neighbor, Big Bird; Garfield; Charlie Brown & the Elusive Football; Clifford The Big Red Dog; Jeeves; Kermit the Frog; Little Bill; Mr. Monopoly; Pikachu and Ronald McDonald, Freida the Dachshund, Flying Fish, Harold the Fireman, Toy Soldier, Uncle Sam, and Wiggle Worm.

Other balloons that have appeared at the parade are the Marx Brothers balloon heads, featuring Groucho, Chico & Harpo and Balloonheads Family, featuring Mama, Papa, and Baby are the Founding Fathers Balloonheads, featuring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Is this a Parade or a Safari? Because one can’t help but notice the small herd of manned, inflatable Elephants and Rhinos that are migrating their way down Broadway.

Baloons come in the shape of many of the things that make childhood so much fun!

Baloons come in the shape of many of the things that make childhood so much fun!

It’s a wondrous sight to see larger-than-life characters take flight in the most beloved Parade in the world. Which is why the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade doesn’t disappoint the millions of fans who wake up early Thanksgiving morning to see their best buddies and favorite friends fly high in the sky above. These gentle giants easily make there way down to Herald Square to the delight of the 2.5 million spectators who line the street. As easy as it seems to pilot these massive figures, much work, time and energy goes into getting the giant helium balloons off the ground. Under the tutelage of Macy's Parade Studio Vice President, John Piper, ten specially skilled artists, sculptors, mold makers and designers devote countless hours to designing, calculating and constructing these magnificent visions to larger-than-life form. It takes approximately one-year to design – from computer-generated renderings, to miniature clay models; the arduous process results in aesthetic perfection. But before a new balloon debuts in the Parade, it must first go through a series of trial inflations and test flights. Three weeks before their maiden Parade voyage each freshman Balloon is fully inflated and flown in what is known as Balloonfest. Under the direction of a Pilot, and a Captain, the flight management team of fourteen and an additional corps of approximately 70 balloon handlers are given instructions as to how to support and fly the balloon. This year’s new cast of giant helium wonders include the not so tiny, Chicken Little, the rambunctious M&M’s Red and Yellow, and taking a leave from Bikini Bottom is the very square SpongeBob SquarePants. They will join such Parade favorites as Big Bird, Super Grover and Kermit the Frog. For more than seven decades, the Parade has managed to entertain, delight and thrill millions through the use of technology and aeronautic know how. Each year the Parade is challenged to make the next Parade bigger and better than the last and for 77 years, it has yet to disappoint.

Following is a list of Giant Helium Balloons that have appeared in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

BIG BIRD SESAME WORKSHOP

Elmo is a well known muppet on Sesame Street, and a crowd favorite.

Elmo is a well known muppet on Sesame Street, and a crowd favorite.

Sesame Street’s most fashionable feathered friend takes flight yet again, appropriately dressed in his red scarf, craftily adorned with green musical notes. Ringing in the holiday season, Big Bird chimes in on cue with his set of ABC and 123 cymbals. Big Bird first appeared in the Parade as a balloon in 1988. In addition to starring daily on Sesame Street, Big Bird has had the privilege of reading a story along with NBC’s Al Roker. Big Bird is 63 feet long, 28 feet wide, stands 46 feet tall and weighs 468 pounds. His beak extends 13 feet and his cymbals measure 13 feet in diameter. It takes more than flapping to get Big Bird up in the air, in fact it takes 12,000 cubic feet of helium and 54 handling lines.

“STRIKE UP THE BAND” BARNEY HIT ENTERTAINMENT

Kids across America shout Super-dee-duper as “Strike Up the Band” Barney steps off from the line of march in this year’s Parade. Marching to the music of his own horn, Barney keeps the beat dressed in a blue and gold drum major’s hat and carrying a 17-foot long brass bugle. This new Barney balloon, making its second Parade appearance, stands at 51.5 feet tall, 27 feet wide, and 53.3 feet long with 15,370 cubic feet of helium to propel him into the sky and down Broadway on Parade Day.

CHICKEN LITTLE WALT DISNEY PICTURES

No the Sky wasn’t falling on that fateful day and for Chicken Little that “acorn incident” that made him the town fool was unfortunate indeed, but in Walt Disney Picture’s upcoming animated comedy, Chicken Little, which picks up after that blunder, the sky really is falling. Now it will be up to this pint-sized chicken who will have to step up to the plate to save the day. In preparation for his upcoming heroics, Chicken Little will take a trip down Broadway leaving his pint-sized proportions for the movies as he towers over New York City as a 60.5 feet tall, 26 feet wide and 68.5 feet long giant helium balloon. Filled with 12,700 cubic ft. of helium and weighing in at 493 pounds Chicken Little, will block a huge portion of that darn sky when he flies in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Flown with the help of 50 handling lines, Chicken Little will be just the right “saving the day” proportions that will really show the towns folk this little chicken’s giant-sized tenacity.

CHARLIE BROWN & THE ELUSIVE FOOTBALL UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE

Charlie brown is a well known mascot, and the Football display is his most iconic scene.

Charlie brown is a well known mascot, and the Football display is his most iconic scene.

The spirit of triumph over adversity powers Charlie Brown & The Elusive Football down Broadway for the lovable blockhead’s third appearance in the Parade. Taking flight on Thanksgiving Day, Charlie Brown stands tall at 50.9 feet high, 53.4 feet long and 29.4 feet wide and is filled with 13,330 cubic feet of helium. Chasing that ever-elusive football down Broadway, Charlie Brown is dressed to impress the millions of Parade spectators in his trademark yellow zigzag sweater as he sticks out his tongue and gets ready to pounce on the football ahead.

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG SCHOLASTIC, INCORPORATED

It’s a dog day afternoon as Scholastic's literary icon, Clifford The Big Red Dog, is unleashed this Thanksgiving, marking his 14th walk in the Parade. Clifford is 60 feet long, 30 feet wide and 44 feet high. With 12,500 cubic feet of helium, Clifford has grown to such an astonishing size as a result of how much his owner Emily Elizabeth loves him. Abiding by New York City leash laws, this colossal canine has the world’s longest leash - a whopping 65 feet! Clifford has more than 110 million books in print and two top-rated television programs on PBS KIDS, including the spin-off series Clifford Puppy Day’s about his days as a tiny pup. This year also marks Clifford’s debut onto the silver screen with Clifford's Really Big Movie. More than forty balloon handlers will be taking Clifford for his annual holiday walk along Broadway.

GARFIELD PAWS INCORPORATED

Garfield, that lasagna loving Fat Cat, returns to the Parade after taking a break from his catnap to fly down Broadway on Thanksgiving Day. Accompanied by his long-time companion and confidant, Pooky the teddy bear, Garfield gives America a big thumbs up as parade-goers partake in one of Garfield’s favorite hobbies- chowing down Thanksgiving dinner. At 49.5 feet long and 34.5 feet wide and standing at 48.5 feet tall, Garfield’s bulk is made up of 13,900 cubic feet of helium (which is equivalent to 37,000 pans of lasagna).

JEEVES ASK JEEVES, INC.

You search and Jeeves finds… Jeeves, the Internet’s most famous butler makes his much anticipated return to the 78th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. All the information on the Internet is a lot to hold, but at 39 feet high, 70 feet in length, 25 feet wide and with 12,700 cubic feet of helium, Jeeves is ready to spread the wealth of knowledge on Parade Day. The Jeeves Balloon will be all style from his dapper duds right down to his shoes, which are 19 feet long. To guarantee Jeeves finds his way from the Internet to Herald Square, more than fifty balloon handlers will be at Jeeves’ service!

KERMIT THE FROG THE JIM HENSON COMPANY

America’s premier frog returns to the skies over Manhattan leaving the comfort of the swamp for the Great White Way. Making his third Parade appearance, Kermit the Frog turns 5o next year but before the big day he will stand larger than life flying over New York City. At 78 feet long, 36 feet wide, 61 feet tall and filled with 11,000 cubic ft. of helium, Kermit makes a big green impression on the city skyline. Already a bonafide super star, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets gang will for the first time ever grace official US Stamps in 2005.

LITTLE BILL NICKELODEON

Not so Little Bill’s waving hand and signature smile are the perfect way to say Hello Friend to the millions of fans down below. Leaving Biladelphia for the Big Apple for the third year in a row, the Little Bill Balloon will happily fly in America’s favorite Parade. As the star of Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning animated series, based on Bill Cosby's popular books, Little Bill can’t find a better way to spend Thanksgiving than with friends down the Great White Way. Dressed in his favorite Rugby shirt and blue jeans, Little Bill is inflated with 12,000 cubic feet of helium and stands more than 48 feet high. At 54.2 feet long and 34 feet wide, Little Bill’s popularity will continue to rise when he flies through the New York sky on Thanksgiving Day.

MR. MONOPOLY PARKER BROTHERS

MR. MONOPOLY trades Atlantic City for the Big City as he gathers his trusty moneybag and get-out-of-jail free card to take flight in the 78th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Dressed in his dapper morning coat and signature spats, Mr. MONOPOLY is on the go! Standing at 60.7 feet long, 24.4 feet wide and 42 feet tall, even a self-made millionaire such as MR. MONOPOLY needs the help of Macy's Parade Studio and 12,650 cubic feet of helium to lift him off the ground. As an international icon and mascot for the best-known board game around, Mr. Monopoly appears on MONOPOLY board games in 80 countries and his picture has been featured on more than 200 million MONOPOLY sets around the globe.

PIKACHU THE POKéMON COMPANY

Pikachu is one of the most recognized children's entertainment mascots of all time.

Pikachu is one of the most recognized children's entertainment mascots of all time.

Pikachu, the most recognizable of over 350 Pokémon characters, makes his fourth return to the skies over New York City in the 78 th Macy’s Parade, much to the delight of Pokémon Masters everywhere. At 65 feet long, 30 feet wide, 30.8 feet tall and weighing in at 373 pounds, Pikachu who is loved by millions worldwide, will conquer Broadway filled with 13,200 cubic feet of helium and maneuvered by 54 handling lines. A beloved star of video games, an animated TV series and feature films, Pikachu currently stars in the new Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen video games and trading card games.

RONALD MCDONALD MCDONALD’S CORPORATION

America’s most recognized clown and McDonald’s CHO (Chief Happiness Officer), Ronald McDonald, will take his fifth trip down the line of march. Making appearances in the Parade since 1967, Ronald McDonald will delight all along the Parade route as he smiles upon them! Standing at 44 feet high, 63 feet long, and 23 feet wide, the Ronald balloon is filled with 12,500 cubic feet of helium, and each one of his shoes measures 22 ft long and 8ft wide. Ronald McDonald himself will star in his new Go Active with Ronald McDonald show later this year. The show teaches the benefits of leading a balanced, active lifestyle. Fifty-five balloon handlers will fly Ronald high above New York City’s skies!

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SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS NICKELODEON

Spongebob is being inflated and preparing to take to the parade!

Spongebob is being inflated and preparing to take to the parade!

SpongeBob SquarePants prepares to soak up the sights, sounds and fun as he appears in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this November. Having absorbed more the 16,200 cubic feet of helium, SpongeBob will leave Bikini Bottom and head for the top of the world, while flying down the Great White Way. Dressed in his signature white shirt, striped tie and of course brown square pants, SpongeBob stands 62 feet high, 38 feet wide and 28 feet long. SpongeBob the Balloon isn’t square at all; he is actually a single chamber sphere, intricately shaped to that of a square by more than 600 tie lines within the Balloon. In addition to giving the balloon its shape, the tie lines also provide every pore and crater that makes Mr. SquarePants the SpongeBob we know and love.

SUPER GROVER SESAME WORKSHOP

Super Grover, the world’s cutest monster, makes a follow-up appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. Dressed in his dashing silver helmet, and long pink cape, Super Grover’s super status is further emphasized by the lightning bolt and capital G prominently displayed across his chest. Our hero takes his job so seriously, that he’s convinced himself he’s the one who’s saved the day (and the world) from eminent danger. Super Grover at 66 feet long, 39.8 feet wide, 38.8 feet tall will soar to new heights thanks to 13,400 cubic feet of helium and 66 trusty, loyal balloon handlers.

RED AND YELLOW BRIGHTEN THE HOLIDAYS M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES

This Milk Chocolate won’t melt in your hand but they sure will be full of hot air. Macy's and M&M’s Chocolate Candies are sure that chocolate lovers everywhere will be rooting for the Red and Yellow Brighten the Holiday Balloon as it makes its way down Broadway. Making its first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the M&M’s Hot Air Balloon is 40 feet long, 30.5 feet wide and 50.5 feet tall. With 48 balloon handlers coaxing these chocolate trouble-makers from the Upper West Side to Herald Square, these M&M’s may be the biggest on record weighing in at 515 lbs. Forgoing the usual filling of nuts or peanut butter, these chocolate shells are filled with 13,335 cubic feet of helium.

WEEBLES PLAYSKOOL

Everyone knows that Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down! And on November 25, the Weebles will return to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and make Parade history. A brand new Parade invention, the balloonicle, (a combination balloon and self-propelled vehicle) has been created to reflect the Weebles “wobbly” character. Millions of spectators will line the Parade route to watch the Weebles characters, TIBBY, BUMPUS and TOOEY, wobble down Broadway. The Weebles characters first appeared in the Parade in 1975. Novelty Balloon Cast CANDY CANE Kids will scream in delight wishing they could get their hands on this sweet treat. Unfortunately for them this giant Candy cane is not on a sugar high but high on helium.

ELF FAMILY

For Parade enthusiasts, Macy's merrily recreates the Gnome Balloon as the Macy's Elf Family its beloved Balloons from the 1940’s and early ‘50’s. A family favorite, the Gnome first appeared in 1947, the same year of the holiday film classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.” At 34 feet high, 18.5 feet wide, and filled with 2,100 cubic feet of helium, these novelty balloons are a new favorite in our retro Parade line-up.

FLYING FISH

Balloon aficionados may have thought this big one got away, but Flying Fish, one of eight Macy's Throwback Balloons based on inflatables from days past returns, and what a catch! Bounding down Broadway puffed with 2,590 cubic feet of helium, stretching out to a full 30 feet, this classic recreation is one happy halibut. While she’s still got the playful youth of a guppy, this is no fish out of water. The original Flying Fish took her first holiday swim back in 1951 and was a favorite of young and old alike until 1958.

FREIDA THE DACHSHUND

Hot dog! The hottest hound-about-town leashes up for his walk, oops, flight down Broadway. Macy's brings man’s best friend home just in time for the holidays. This top dog spans 52 feet long, 21 feet tall and 14 feet wide. Getting him off the ground will take 14 balloon handlers and 2,600 cubic feet of helium.

HAROLD THE FIREMAN

Originally seen in the Parade of 1948, Harold stands at 32 feet.

Originally seen in the Parade of 1948, Harold stands at 32 feet.

Who better to salute the city’s bravest, the men and women of the New York Fire Department, and lead the Fire Brigade Clowns down Broadway than that lovable character from Macy's Parades of yesteryear? Harold the Fireman! Originally seen in the Parade of 1948, Harold is spiffed up and ready for action, complete with his giant fireman’s cap with a 45-foot circumference. At a height of 32 feet, New Yorkers can rest assured that he will keep a watchful eye over the city. As he is supported in the air by 2,800 cubic ft. of helium and air, blowing it out is, needless to say, a breeze. Somewhat of a “renaissance” Balloon, Harold, is a man of many talents. Prior to his “Fireman” debut in 1948, this Zelig bounded down the Parade route in 1945 as a Clown, 1946 as a Baseball Player and in 1947 as a Policeman.

TOY SOLDIER

At-ten-tion! Toy Soldier reporting for active Parade duty! A recreation of a 1949 favorite, Toy Soldier will have the honor of once again going down Broadway in the 77 th Parade celebration. Toy Soldier spans 9.5 feet in length, 12 feet in width, stands 34 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. Leading 12 balloon handlers down Broadway, Toy Soldier is ready to take command of 34th Street.

UNCLE SAM

Let’s hear it for the red, white and blue as Uncle Sam makes his way down Broadway in true patriotic spirit. The first Uncle Sam balloon debuted in the Parade in 1938 and flew until 1940. This brand new Uncle Sam balloon is a recreation of the 1938 original. Representing everything American, Uncle Sam is a proud citizen of the Parade and the USA!

WIGGLE WORM

The brand new Wiggle Worm balloon in all its multicolored glory makes its Parade debut this year. At 15 feet high, 19.3 feet wide and filed with 3,900 cubic feet of helium, this worm will wiggle its way into Parade spectators hearts this Thanksgiving.

Giant Helium Balloonhead Cast

GROUCHO, HARPO & CHICO, THE MARX BROTHERS

In the history of comedy teams, none can match the wild antics of stage and screen’s favorite brothers – Groucho, Harpo & Chico. Their comedic genius and unique and inventive humor have earned them a place in worldwide entertainment royalty. Macy's own Marx Brothers Balloon Heads will be bobbing down Broadway, making their first appearance since the 1930’s. The Balloon Heads are a new twist to a Parade classic.

FOUNDING FATHERS

Macy's pays tribute the birth of our nation with three brand new balloonheads. Depicting George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the balloonheads are not only marvels of ingenuity but are inspiring as well.

MAMA, PAPA AND BABY

Mama, Papa and Baby, the Parade’s first Balloonhead family, make a triumphant return. First seen in 1931, Mama, Papa and Baby have fast-forwarded to the new millennium.

For More Information:

Further information on the Parade can be obtained by calling the Macy's Parade Hotline at (212) 494-4495 or at macysparade.com.