Ready, set, lift off of Macy’s famed giant helium balloon characters in the 83rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®. This Thanksgiving Day the magic in the sky will once again wow millions of spectators as beloved characters return to the balloon line-up. Featuring a star-studded list of American pop culture favorites from a friendly neighborhood super-hero to a world-famous mouse, the stars of Macy’s Parade are transformed from pencil sketches to larger-than-life forms via a sprinkling of magic from the stars at Macy’s Parade Studio.
A Ballooning Tradition
Dating back to the 1927 edition of the holiday spectacle, Macy’s giant character balloons have featured a who’s who of characters from film, television, comic strips, and cartoons. From the very first inflatable of Felix the Cat to the four new giants –Pillsbury Doughboy®, Ronald McDonald®, Sailor Mickey, and Spider-Man® – the Macy’s Parade has brought to life 157 of the most recognizable characters in history during its 83 editions.
Before the giant balloons inspire awe on Parade day, they start on a drafting table at Macy’s Parade Studio. There, the Parade team of “Balloonatics” transforms a well-known character into a high-flying wonder. A pencil sketch of the character is the first step in the creation process. This concept sketch showcases the character in balloon form, taking into consideration aerodynamic, engineering and aesthetic points. Under the direction of John Piper, lead designer of Macy’s Parade Studio, the Balloonatic team takes that initial pencil sketch through a months-long process that encompasses concept, aerodynamic and aesthetic design, construction and final test flights. The building process includes creation of clay and painted models, and of course, the cutting and sealing of fabric into chambers that will produce the final balloon. Macy’s conducts the high-tech process in collaboration with aerodynamic and engineering consultants, Aerostar, who together calculate the balloon design’s aerodynamics, buoyancy, and lift. Once the balloon has been created it will undergo many tests including indoor and outdoor test flights, inflation and deflation tests and final touch-ups before taking flight on Parade day.
On Saturday, November 7th, before their official Thanksgiving Day debut, the new giant character balloons take to the sky for a final test flight at Macy’s Balloonfest. At this outdoor event, each balloon’s Pilot and Captain, and the flight management team of twelve, guide hundreds of handlers as they fly the balloon in an extreme real world setting. Once the balloons have been awarded their flight wings, they will receive a comprehensive final check-up that may include air inflation tests, cleaning and paint touch-ups before the big day.
Following is the Complete Cast of Giant Helium Character Balloons in the 83rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
With her wand at the ready, Abby Cadabby, the inquisitive fairy-in-training returns to the Parade for another magical flight down the streets of New York City. Originally from Fairyside, Queens, Abby will be right at home with the crowd cheering her on as she helps ring in the holidays and celebrate the 40th birthday of Sesame Street. Although Abby is still somewhat magically challenged, she is sure to delight millions of Parade spectators with her enchanting antics. Standing at 56-feet long, 37.5-feet wide, and 48.5-feet high, Abby is filled with 16,100 cubic feet of helium as she bounds happily down the route.
Buzz Lightyear, the fearless Space Ranger from Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy, returns to the Parade for another trip to Herald Square and Beyond! The larger-than-life hero measures 67.7-feet long, 39.9-feet wide and 34.3-feet tall. On Thanksgiving Day, Buzz will be ready for the adventure with his jet pack guiding him down the route. From his green and purple space boots all the way up to his protective helmet, which is 17-feet in diameter, Buzz Lightyear is sure to create a big buzz for millions of Parade spectators.
DORA THE EXPLORER™
The adventure-loving, Latina heroine Dora the Explorer™ returns to the Macy’s Parade this Thanksgiving for a high-flying expedition as the Nickelodeon heroine prepares to celebrate her 10-year anniversary next year. As always, Dora will be waving ¡Hola! to the crowds on her way to 34th Street along with her trusty friends Backpack and Map. Filled with 14,250 cubic feet of helium, Dora measures 43.5-feet in length, 39-feet in width and 55-feet tall. A skilled explorer, Dora will lead her team of balloon handlers to Macy’s Herald Square, where she will be sure to exclaim, We did it! ¡Lo Hicimos! at the end of her journey.
FLYING ACE SNOOPY
UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE
Snoopy, the extroverted beagle with a Walter Mitty complex returns to the line-up as the Flying Ace. Snoopy is celebrating PEANUTS® 60th Anniversary and is marking a record 34th appearance in the Macy’s Parade. Holding binoculars and sporting an aviator hat, goggles and a red scarf, Snoopy is ready for another showdown with the dreaded Red Baron. Once again ready for the challenge standing at 52-feet high, 25-feet wide and 49.5-feet long and filled with 15,000 cubic feet of helium; Flying Ace Snoopy is a beagle with a mission on Parade day.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT
The wonderful Whos of Whoville are back in town taking a ride down Manhattan with their giant protector, Horton the Elephant, from the movie Horton Hears A Who. Keeping his eyes firmly planted on the delicate clover protectively wrapped in his trunk, Horton will take flight once again measuring 59.8-feet long, 31.8-feet wide and 43.4-feet tall on his return Parade voyage. With toenails the size of large beach balls, and ears that could cover a large van, Horton is filled with 14,060 cubic feet of helium on Thanksgiving Day.
KERMIT THE FROG™
THE MUPPETS STUDIO
Kermit the Frog, the world’s most famous amphibian, takes Manhattan again in the 2009 Macy’s Parade. Kermit the Frog™ stands “slightly” larger-than-life, flying over New York City at 78-feet long, 36-feet wide, 60-feet tall and filled with 11,000 cubic feet of helium. They say it’s not easy being green, but Kermit sure makes it look easy as he flies triumphantly down the route this Thanksgiving, to the roaring cheers of his many fans, friends – and maybe even a few of his fellow frogs.
THE POKÉMON COMPANY INTERNATIONAL
That rosy glow coming from Pikachu’s cheeks is not from the November chill, but from the electricity stored inside. Pikachu, the most recognizable character of the Pokémon® universe, returns to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade chasing after a Poké Ball. Charged for another electrifying trip, Pikachu, stands at 53.5-feet high, 36.9-feet wide and is 40.8-feet long, and filled with 15,000 cubic feet of helium.
The new Pillsbury Doughboy® balloon makes its Macy’s Parade debut in larger-than-life form, far outgrowing his normal 8¾-inch frame. On Thanksgiving Day, the Doughboy will march down the route with his arms outstretched and his bright blue eyes shining ready to ring in the holidays. At more than 63 times his traditional size, the Doughboy balloon will measure 53.7-feet in length, 34.4-feet in width and will be 46.4-feet tall. This Doughboy will rise to the occasion filled with 12,280 cubic feet of helium.
Ronald McDonald® first made his Macy’s Parade debut in 1966, holding a bouquet of party balloons that had taken him on a Thanksgiving joy ride. In 2001, a second Ronald McDonald balloon made its Parade debut flying down the streets of Manhattan bringing joy and laughter to millions. This year, Ronald is in a playful mood and has strapped on the world’s largest pair of ice skates for a fun-filled holiday activity. Measuring 76.4-feet long, 28.8-feet wide and 48.6-feet tall, Ronald will be inflated with 13,650 cubic feet of helium on Parade day.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
Ahoy matey! Get on board the ultimate family cruise with Sailor Mickey at the helm. Sporting his nautically-inspired red, white and blue sailor gear, Mickey will salute the crowds as he rides down the Parade route. Sailing aboard an anchor that is approximately four times the size of an actual cruise ship anchor, Mickey measures 48.1-feet long, 33.6-feet wide and 60.9-feet tall. Sailor Mickey will be filled with 14,750 cubic feet of helium on his maiden voyage on Thanksgiving Day.
A giant ogre from Far Far Away will be returning to the sky over Manhattan once again this Thanksgiving. The truly larger-than-life Shrek® will take a break from life in his beloved swamp to help welcome in the holiday season. Everything Shrek does is ogre the top and his giant balloon is no exception standing at 44-feet tall, 47-feet long and 39.3-feet wide. Dressed in his signature woodsman outfit complete with oatmeal sweater, plaid pants and brown vest, Shrek will be filled with over 14,130 cubic feet of helium for his third trip through the Big Apple.
LAFIG BELGIUM / SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
The sky will most definitely be blue this Thanksgiving as the giant Smurf balloon returns for another smurferrific holiday trip. The loveable Smurf will wave hello to all his friends as he flies through Manhattan, to the sounds of Happy Thanksmurfday! Measuring 57.6-feet long, 38.7-feet wide and 47-feet tall, the whimsical Smurf is filled with 15,050 cubic feet of helium on Parade day.
Millions of New Yorkers will feel their Spider-senses tingling on Thanksgiving morning when New York’s own neighborhood Super Hero™, Marvel’s Spider-Man®, makes a triumphant return to the skies over Manhattan to ensnare a new generation of fans. After a decade, the legendary crime-fighting web-slinger returns to the Parade line-up in celebration of Marvel’s 70th Anniversary. Spider-Man made his Macy’s Parade debut in 1987, becoming an instant classic. The new, more modern and muscular Spidey is in full crawling mode with one hand set to release his web. On Parade day, the Spider-Man balloon will measure 78-feet long, 37.8-feet wide and 29.1-feet tall and will be filled with 11,800 cubic feet of helium.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! On Thanksgiving Day SpongeBob SquarePants™ will take a break from the Krusty Krab and leave Bikini Bottom to soak up the sights, sounds and fun of the Big Apple. Celebrating his 10th Anniversary this year, SpongeBob returns to the Parade for his fifth flight. Macy’s Parade’s first-ever square balloon will absorb more than 16,200 cubic feet of helium to fly down the route. Dressed in his signature white shirt, red tie and brown square pants, SpongeBob stands at 62-feet high, 38-feet wide and 28-feet long. Although it may appear square the SpongeBob SquarePants balloon isn’t square at all, he is actually a single chamber sphere, intricately made square-shaped by more than 600 internal tie-lines.
“SUPERCUTE” HELLO KITTY®
Returning to the line-up and celebrating her 35th Anniversary this year is Sanrio’s Supercute Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty will take flight dressed in her Supercute superhero outfit, complete with cape and tiara to complement her trademark red bow. Standing at 33.6-feet tall, 34.8-feet wide and 45-feet long, Hello Kitty will soar over the Big Apple bringing smiles to her millions of fans.
The following is a complete list of the supporting cast of Balloonicles, novelty/mid-sized and small balloons:
ARRTIE THE PIRATE
Returning to the line-up is everyone’s favorite one-eyed seafarer – Arrtie the Pirate. A recreation of the classic Pirate balloon of 1947, Arrtie stands at 36-feet tall and is filled with 3,600 cubic feet of helium easily plundered from various tanks. With map in hand, Arrtie is on a search for holiday treasure this Thanksgiving.
Featuring a signature from R.H. Macy himself, the world’s largest baseball is destined to be hit right out of the park this Thanksgiving. Measuring 12-feet in height, this giant baseball is filled with over 900 cubic feet of helium on Parade day.
A brand new Basketball balloon is here to cheer on Macy’s All Stars. At 15-feet in diameter, this Basketball giant will be dribbling down the route filled with 1,766 cubic feet of helium.
BEACH BALL CLUSTER
A bright bouquet of balloons adds color and brings smiles to children everywhere. The Macy’s Parade Balloon Cluster returns to the line up with the biggest, brightest beach balls ever seen in New York. With a height of 25-feet and filled with 2,858 cubic feet of helium, the balloon cluster is sure to be a big holiday treat.
BIG MAN SANTA
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
The star of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the big man himself – Santa Claus. To pay tribute to his star status, Macy’s Parade Studio magicians have created a fantastic new balloon depicting the cheery man himself with a rather jolly belly, this time full of helium. Big Man Santa will make his Parade debut before heading south for the winter to star in Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando®.
Kids will scream in delight wishing they could get their hands on these sweet treats. These 20-foot tall Candy Canes are a holiday favorite on a sky-high sugar rush.
CHLOE THE HOLIDAY CLOWN
A Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade staple, Chloe the Holiday Clown returns for another trip down New York City. At 28.5-feet tall and 18-feet wide, Chloe is filled with 2,242 cubic feet of helium.
America’s favorite battery-powered pink bunny returns to the Parade this year to drum up some more holiday spirit. The Energizer Bunny® balloonicle is unstoppable, taking another super cool trip down the Parade route, wearing his favorite sunglasses and 45 EEE sized flip-flops. Marching to the beat of his own drum, he’ll be the king of stocking stuffers this holiday season. With all the power that the Energizer Bunny brings to the party fun, the holiday season will keep going long after he crosses the finish line.
FRIEDA THE DACHSHUND
It’s a dog’s life for Frieda the Dachshund as she returns for another year of playing fetch along the route. At 21-feet tall and 53-feet-long, Frieda may just be the world’s largest dachshund.
Icosahedrons rule! For the mathematically challenged, each of the two brand new Geometric balloons are a 20 sided polygon made up of equilateral triangles. These icosahedrons measure 16-feet in height and will be filled with 1,700 cubic feet of helium.
HAROLD THE FIREMAN
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 the route than that lovable character Harold the Fireman! Originally seen in the Parade of 1948, Harold is a recreation of the original balloon. At a height of 32-feet, New Yorkers can rest assured that he will keep a watchful eye over the city. Harold is supported in the air by 2,800 cubic feet of helium, which makes blowing out fires a breeze.
KIT, CHARLIE & C.J. ELF
The Gnome Balloons from the 1940s and early ‘50s have been recreated and are now Parade standards. Kit, Charlie & C.J. Elf are back for another Thanksgiving Day jaunt. At 34-feet high, 18.5-feet wide, and filled with 2,100 cubic feet of helium, these novelty balloons give a new meaning to the word “elf.”
Macy’s is the star of the Parade as its signature five-pointed star flies high in a variety of colors and configurations. Celebrating the famed red star that guided R.H. Macy to shore during his days as a seaman, the Macy’s star still shines today.
MACY’S ORNAMENT BALLOONS
Macy’s knows how to accessorize the holidays! From Poinsettias, Pumpkins and Snow Crystals to the Stars & Stripes, Macy’s ornament balloons add a splendid touch to the holiday palette.
At 14-feet wide, Macy’s Planet Earth recreation is not nearly as big as the original, but still as breathtaking.
STRAWBERRY/PISTACHIO ICE CREAM CONE
Looking very delicious, the Strawberry/Pistachio Ice cream cone balloon stands 30-feet tall, top to cone tip and is a scrumptious treat for the sweet toothed crowds.
Source and Photo: Macy’s
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