On the forth Thursday in November, over Manhattan giants take to the sky in the nation’s most beloved holiday spectacle – the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®. Featuring Santa’s favorite scout elf, a world-famous friend and the best Papa ever, the Parade’s signature line-up of balloon wonders will delight and thrill millions as they soar through the streets of New York this Thanksgiving.
Since their debut in the Macy’s Parade in 1927, the line-up has featured a storied cast of the world’s most famous characters. From Underdog to Betty Boop, Kermit the Frog to Dora the Explorer, the balloons reflect the very best of pop culture. This year, making their debuts and taking flight in the 86th edition will be Santa’s favorite scout elf from the new beloved children’s Christmas tradition The Elf on the Shelf®, the loveable Hello Kitty© aboard her fabulous airplane, and the smurferrific Papa Smurf.
Before they get ready for lift off, the Parade’s new giant balloons begin life as a pencil sketch in the hands of a skilled Macy’s artist. Under the direction of John Piper, vice president and lead designer of Macy’s Parade Studio, the Studio’s design team and resident group of “Balloonatics” transform a drawing into a larger-than-life flying wonder. Every Macy’s Parade balloon combines artistic design with aerodynamics and engineering. Masters of ballooning, the Macy’s team in collaboration with consultants Aerostar, together calculate and perfect the balloon’s aerodynamic design. Once a flight-worthy balloon concept has been approved, it moves on to the clay and painted model construction phase. This step helps the team create a blueprint from which the balloon will be built. From there, giant reams of polyurethane fabric will like a shirt or dress, be patterned, cut and sealed together to create multiple chambers which ultimately produce the character’s head, body and limbs. Once the balloon has been created and painted to the exact specifications required of the character, it will undergo many tests including indoor and outdoor flights, inflation and deflation tests, and final touch-ups before its inaugural flight in the Macy’s Parade.
Following is the Complete Cast of Giant Helium Character Balloons in the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Disney•Pixar’s superhero Buzz Lightyear returns for his fifth trip down the streets of New York. Toy Story’s fearless Inter-galactic Space Ranger will measure 67.7-feet long, 39.9-feet wide and 34.3-feet tall. Buzz’s 15-month sojourn to space aboard the International Space Station is now immortalized at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
CHARLIE BROWN AND THE ELUSIVE FOOTBALL
Charlie Brown returns to the streets of New York City once again chasing that ever-elusive football. Since 1952, when Lucy first held the football away from Charlie, he has chased after the pigskin. Standing at 51-feet tall, 28-feet wide and at 54-feet long, Charlie has the best shot ever of catching the 20-foot tall football this Turkey Day.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID
Greg Heffley returns once again to the skies of New York City clutching his diary – journal, to the delight of millions of kids. At 60-feet long, 25-feet wide, and 56-feet tall, wimpy is not the right word to describe this balloon behemoth. Clutching his precious book close for comfort and security, Greg is celebrating the 6 million copy release of his seventh book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel,” this holiday season.
THE ELF ON THE SHELF®
CCA and B, LLC
The Elf on the Shelf will take his first flight in the Macy’s Parade this Thanksgiving. Sent by Santa Claus to watch over good little boys and girls around the world, the Elf on the Shelf will take his reporting duties to new heights, measuring 46-feet tall, 28-feet wide and 64-feet long in the Parade line-up.
Returning to the line-up to say hello to her many friends is Hello Kitty. Flying high in her new airplane, Hello Kitty will spread happiness and friendship along the Parade route and into homes across the country. Hello Kitty, with her trademark red bow and 1970’s retro airplane design, stands at 36-feet tall, 38-feet wide and 50-feet long as she soars over the Big Apple bringing smiles to her millions of fans.
Measuring 41-feet tall, 65-feet long and 39-feet wide, Julius once again sky rockets into the line-up in style. Soaring above his friends with the help of his double-thruster jetpack, Julius brings his iconic smile and awesomeness to the skies of New York and to millions of fans.
KERMIT THE FROG
THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Everyone’s favorite amphibian returns to take Manhattan and soar in the world-famous Macy’s Parade. Kermit and his fellow Muppets have had a busy year from their recent hit movie to an all-new holiday single “All I Need is Love” with Grammy-winning artist CeeLo Green to serving as the official Family Ambassadors of New York City. After floating in the Macy’s Parade, Kermit and the Muppet gang are preparing to start production on an all-new movie from Disney. At 78-feet long, 36-feet wide, 60-feet tall and filled with 11,000 cubic feet of helium, Kermit is the top frog in this Thanksgiving Day procession.
KUNG FU PANDA™
Delivering his signature martial arts moves down the route is DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, Po. Truly a larger-than-life master of the ancient art of Kung Fu, Po returns for his third awesome Parade flight. Measuring 42-feet tall, 46-feet long and 34-feet wide, the Kung Fu Panda is filled with more than 16,000 cubic feet of helium “noodles” – his favorite food!
SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
Papa Smurf is ready for his big debut on Thanksgiving, jumping for joy and dancing his way down the route. Sporting a festive bow tie and cane and clicking his heels to the holiday fun, Papa Smurf is sure to delight millions of fans who are eagerly anticipating his return in The Smurfs 2 set for the big screen next summer. Measuring 51-feet tall, 36-feet wide and 46-feet long, Papa Smurf will help usher in a Happy Smurfgiving to one and all!
THE POKÉMON COMPANY INTERNATIONAL
Returning to bring its signature electrifying presence to the Macy’s Parade, Pikachu, the most recognizable character of the Pokémon™ universe, lights up Thanksgiving chasing after its Poké Ball. With its rosy cheeks electrifying the route, Pikachu flies at 53.5-feet high, 36.9-feet wide and 40.8-feet long, and is filled with 15,000 cubic feet of helium.
The Pillsbury Doughboy® rises to the top once again transforming from his normal 8-and three-quarter-inch frame to a balloon giant measuring 53.7-feet long, 34.4-feet wide and 46.4-feet tall. Known for helping moms make simple and fun food ideas the whole family will love, the Pillsbury Doughboy with his warm smile and world-famous giggle is ready to ring in the holidays with millions of families.
Getting a holiday workout, the world’s most famous clown Ronald McDonald® returns to the Parade to kick-off the holiday season. Ronald ice skates down the route wearing the world’s largest pair of ice skates. Measuring 76.4-feet long, 28.8-feet wide and 48.6-feet tall, Ronald is inflated with 13,650 cubic feet of helium. Always in a playful mood, Ronald is ready for this fun-filled, holiday activity.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE®
Ahoy Matey! It’s Sailor Mickey at the helm of the ultimate family cruise. Riding his ship’s anchor, Sailor Mickey is set for his fourth voyage to 34th Street. Sporting nautically-inspired red, white and blue gear, Sailor Mickey gives a Thanksgiving Day salute to the gathered crowds. Mickey measures 48.1-feet long, 33.6-feet wide, 60.9-feet tall and will be filled with 14,750 cubic feet of helium for his Turkey Day sail.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG™
Sonic the Hedgehog, the Parade’s first-ever balloon based on a video game character, returns for his second flight down Manhattan. Skyrocketing into the atmosphere with his massive blue spikes, signature white gloves and red sneakers, Sonic measures 50-feet tall, 55-feet long, and 37-feet wide as he sprints down the route.
Back to patrol the skyline and protect the citizens of New York is Marvel’s Spider-Man®, the iconic and amazing web-slinger. All across town Spider-senses will tingle on Thanksgiving morning when New York’s own friendly, neighborhood Super Hero™ takes to the skies over Manhattan. Spidey, in full wall-crawling action mode with one hand set to release his web, floats down the route measuring 78-feet long, 37.8-feet wide and 29.1-feet tall, filled with 11,800 cubic feet of helium.
This Thanksgiving, pop-culture icon and eternal optimist SpongeBob SquarePants will take a special holiday trip to the Big Apple for his ninth appearance in the Macy’s Parade. Based on Nickelodeon’s hit animated series, SpongeBob is the first-ever square balloon in the Parade and will absorb more than 16,200 cubic feet of helium to fly down the route. SpongeBob takes on his unique shape with the help of more than 600 internal tie-lines that pull the single chamber sphere balloon into a square.
Below is the Novelty/Ornament/Balloonicle/Trycaloon cast:
Quacking down the route for the second time is the Aflac Duck. The famed spokesduck will take on a new form for the festivities as a 35-foot tall balloonicle. Riding on a sleigh and wearing a festive scarf, the Aflac Duck balloonicle will continue to be a sure-fire hit and have fans quacking “Afflaaac.”
BIG MAN SANTA
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 balloon depicting the cheery man himself with a rather jolly belly, this time full of helium. Big Man Santa measures 26-feet in height and 21-feet in width for his Thanksgiving flight.
CHLOE THE HOLIDAY CLOWN
A Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade staple, Chloe the Holiday Clown is set to tickle many funny bones. At 28.5-feet tall and 18-feet wide, Chloe is filled with 2,242 cubic feet of helium.
COMPANION by KAWS is set to debut as the Parade’s latest entry into the Blue Sky Gallery series, which invites celebrated contemporary artists to create flying art for the Thanksgiving Day procession. Helping to bring fine art to the masses, the KAWS balloon will take the shape of one of his most famous characters, COMPANION. Transformed into a high-flying giant, COMPANION measures 41-feet long, 24-feet wide, and 28-feet tall.
Icosahedrons rule! For the mathematically-challenged, each of the two 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 – 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 THE POLICEMAN
Joining his Fireman twin is the Parade’s newest recreation, Harold the Policeman. Joining the line-up after his first stint in service in 1947, Harold the Policeman salutes the NYPD for keeping us safe.
KIT, CHARLIE & C.J. ELF
The Gnome Balloons from the 1940s and early ‘50s are back in new form, as the Macy’s Parade Elf Family. 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.”
Ohhh, yeah! Here comes the Kool-Aid Man! Always smiling, the super cool Kool-Aid Man skateboards down the route at 33-feet tall and 24-feet wide and wearing size 130 sneakers. This gigantic pitcher is large enough to carry over 1.3 million cups of the newest Kool-Aid flavors: Lemonade and Watermelon! And to that we say, “Ohhh, yeah!”
Macy’s is the star of the Parade as its signature five-pointed namesake and Believe stars fly 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/BALLOONICLES
Macy’s knows how to accessorize the holidays! From Pumpkins to Ice Crystals, Macy’s ornament balloons add a splendid touch to the holiday palette. A dazzling red and gold ornament balloonicle will also ride down the route reminding everyone that Christmas is almost here.
MACY’S SPORT ORNAMENT BALLOONS
Measuring 12-feet in height, the giant baseball, basketball, soccer ball and football promise to score a point for the home team this Thanksgiving.
NUTCRACKER & MOUSE KING TRYCALOONS
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO® RESORT
Debuting in the line-up this year before heading down to celebrate the holidays daily in Macy’s Holiday Parade™ at Universal Studios® Orlando are the Nutcracker and Mouse King trycaloons. Another Macy’s innovation that debuted last year, the trycaloons are a combination balloon and tandem tricycle where the balloon character is pedaling in the rear seat. A treat for ballet fans, the new trikes are sure to cause a sensation down the route.
THE PLANET EARTH BALLOON/ POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCES
Proving that saving the world requires teamwork, the Power Rangers Megaforce make their debut as they celebrate Thanksgiving by escorting the 14-foot tall Planet Earth balloon. With the help of 19 Red Rangers and a White Ranger, the ambassadors of the Power Rangers 20th anniversary, the earth is in safe hands this Turkey Day. Go Go Megaforce!
RED/WHITE CANDY CANE
Kids will scream in delight wishing they could get their hands on this sweet treat. This 20-foot tall candy cane is a holiday favorite on a sky-high sugar rush.
REX, THE HAPPY DRAGON
The Dragon is back! Dating back to the very first dragon design created for the first Macy’s Parade that featured balloons in 1927, the Dragon has seen many incarnations over the procession’s history. The latest version, Rex the Happy Dragon, makes his debut this year with a 25-foot grin that spreads joy from scale-to-scale.
Stars & Stripes Forever! Let’s hear it for the red, white and blue as Uncle Sam makes his way down the route in true patriotic spirit. The first Uncle Sam balloon debuted in the Parade in 1938. This recreation of the original represents everything American, from our shared values to our freedoms. Uncle Sam is a proud citizen of the Parade and the U.S.A.!
Virginia, the little girl who taught everybody to believe, soars once again. Modeled after the animated version of 8-year old Virginia O’Hanlon, who famously wrote to the editor of the New York Sun about the existence of Santa Claus, Virginia is ready to kick off the holidays, but first she must get that letter in the mail.
The Wiggleworm balloon in all its multicolored glory returns to the Parade 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 spectators’ hearts this Thanksgiving.
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