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Iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons
B y the time the last flame of the Great Chicago Fire fizzled out on October 10, 1871, 300 people were dead, a third of Chicago’s population were homeless, and 4 square miles of city were destroyed. Reflecting on the disaster begs the question: Was it the most bizarre tragedy ever? Thanksgiving is a holiday full of traditions, from turkey and stuffing to football and naps. Since 1924, the Macy’s Parade has grown to become not only a Thanksgiving staple but also the world’s largest parade. Over 3.5 million people attended the parade last year, with another 20 million tuning in from home. The main attraction is always the massive character balloons, which first graced the skies in 1927. Over the decades, some of these balloons have become nearly as famous as the character they depict. FELIX THE CAT When the Felix the Cat balloon appeared in 1931, it set the standard for all characters to follow.
Sadly, the original balloon got tangled in wires and caught on fire, so it has been lost to history. Felix’s influence on the parade is so immense, however, that when Macy’s brought him back in 2016 for the parade’s 90th anniversary, they recreated his original design. Without Felix’s influence, the parade might look a lot different today. SNOOPY When it comes to balloon characters, none is more famous than the classic “Peanuts” beagle. His first balloon floated through the sky in 1968, and he’s been a regular fixture ever since. Charles Schultz’s famous pooch holds the record for most variations in a parade (eight) and most total appearances (40). Though Snoopy doesn’t come out every year, he usually closes the show when he does. PIKACHU The Pokémon mascot didn’t appear until 2001, but he’s become a star attraction, showing up every year since. Bright, expressive, and impossible
to miss, Pikachu checks off all the boxes for a successful balloon character. For 16 years, those who predicted that Pokémon was just a fad have gotten a big, yellow reminder of just how wrong they were.
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