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The new Kermit balloon, debuted 2002.

TThe Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade held every Thanksgiving Day in New York City. Originally called the Macy's Christmas Parade, it was first held in 1924 and has been cancelled only thrice due to rubber shortages during World War II. The two and a half mile parade features large balloons of well-known characters alongside floats and marching bands, ending with a float of Santa Claus upon his sleigh, marking the start of the Christmas season.

Kermit the Frog and the MuppetsEdit

The first Kermit the Frog balloon debuted in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1977.[2] The balloon was 63 feet tall and 24 feet wide, and took four hours and 5,220 cubic feet of helium to reach its full size. It was constructed at the Goodyear plant in Rockmart, Georgia.[3]

The Muppet cast made a live appearance in the 1979 Parade to promote The Muppet Movie. Miss Piggy rode the parade route in a Rolls Royce, followed by the rest of the Muppets in the Electric Mayhem bus.[4]

Also in 1979, the Kermit balloon was the first inflatable from the parade to travel outside of the USA, heading to England to help celebrate the International Year of the Child.[4] The 1979 Sesame Street Calendar represented the Macy's parade in its November picture, depicting the Kermit float being heled by the Sesame Street Muppets.

The 1985 parade was affected by heavy rain, which weighed down the balloons. The Kermit balloon ripped its stomach along Central Park West during the parade.[2] An AP report said that "The Kermit balloon was punctured by a tree and almost crashed into spectators as it sailed down the parade route with its left foot dragging the street." [5] With only about 20% of his helium inside the balloon, Kermit was carried for the rest of the parade by his green-clad frog handlers.[6]

In 1987, Jim Henson and Kermit appeared live on the telecast to accept the Rollie Award, an award named for Rowland H. Macy, for their years of service to the parade.[2] Kermit graciously accepted the award, saying, "Listen, to be immortalized in a large balloon about 75 feet tall and filled with gas is one of the greatest thrills of my life, and I wish everybody out there could have the same exciting thrill. And it would be a wonderful parade if they did."[7]

The Kermit balloon suffered another mishap in 1991, when it scraped against high branches on Central Park West, tearing a hole in the balloon. "We thought he had turned into a tree frog," said Marc Schwab, the balloon captain. "Personally, I think he saw Miss Piggy on a sidestreet. But he was a real trouper. He was down, so to speak, but he wasn't out." [8] The New York Times reported that the balloon, "borne by its crew and wildly cheered on by the crowd, galumphed on toward Herald Square." [9] Parade producer Jean McFaddin talked about the incident in 1995, saying, "If a balloon gets disfigured so that it would be disruptive to children, we pull it out of the parade." Asked what would be disruptive enough, McFaddin answered, "If Kermit had his face torn off." Kermit was left in the parade in '91, although the mostly-deflated, 1,000-pound balloon had to be carried down Broadway by his handlers. "He looked like he was swimming," McFaddin said. [10]

After this incident, the Kermit balloon was retired from the Parade. [11]

After an 11-year hiatus from the Parade, a new Kermit the Frog balloon debuted in 2002. [2] The new balloon is 78 feet long, 61 feet high and 36 feet wide, with a volume of 11,000 cubic feet of helium. [11]

Kermit the Frog made reference to his balloon incarnation by performing an impression of himself in the Thanksgiving Day parade on Muppets.com in the video "Take Three!".

To mark the occasion, Kermit was the official holiday mascot for Macy's in 2002, and he rode on Santa's sleigh at the end of the parade. [12] During the broadcast, Kermit and Miss Piggy were interviewed by Today Show weatherman Al Roker to talk about the new balloon. [2] (Not so coincidentally, their new TV-movie, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie aired on NBC a day later.)

In 2008, Kermit appeared live on the Central Park float, and performed the song "I Believe".[13] In 2009, Kermit performed the song again, as a duet with Tiffany Thornton. The song was also performed on the Santa Claus float soon after

Sesame StreetEdit

Balloons

Several Sesame characters have also appeared in balloon form. Big Bird's balloon debuted in 1988; the balloon (designed by Michael Frith) featured Big Bird wearing a winter cap and a sweater, and carrying alphabet blocks. In 1998, the Big Bird balloon was the lead balloon in the parade, although the day was particularly windy and rainy, and the balloon was kept low to the ground in order to test the wind. [14]

After ten years, the original Big Bird balloon was wearing out -- according to a Christian Science Monitor article, "Its stitching is frayed, and he's been patched a lot." A new balloon was made in 2001, showing Big Bird playing a pair of cymbals. [15]

A Super Grover balloon launched in 2003 (designed by Louis Henry Mitchell [16]), and was followed by an Abby Cadabby balloon in 2007.

The Abby Cadabby balloon stands at 56 feet long, 37.5 feet wide, and 48.5 feet high; Abby and her magic wand are filled with 16,100 cubic feet of helium.[17]

FloatEdit

A Sesame Street float first appeared in the parade in 1974, with Muppets and cast members waving to the crowd. The original float featured two buildings -- the 123 Sesame Street brownstone, and Hooper's Store. The streetlight with the Sesame Street street sign was located at the front of the float; a ramshackle fence was at the back, decorated with numbers and letters. Big Bird perched on the roof of the float; Cookie Monster and other Muppet characters stuck their heads out of the windows, and human cast members (including Mr. Hooper, Gordon and Bob) stood on the front of the float. [18] This float appeared in five consecutive parades, through 1978.[19]

In 1979, Children's Television Workshop celebrated the 10th anniversary of the show with a brand new float, a much taller, two-story structure. Big Bird sat in his nest at the top of the building, and cast members and kids appeared at the front of the float. A sign was carried in front of the float which said, "Macy's wishes Sesame Street a Happy 10th Year".[20] As most of the main Muppet performers were working The Electric Mayhem Bus for The Muppet Movie, additional puppeteers were recruited. Among them were Kevin Clash, in his first Muppet-related performance. Clash performed Cookie Monster, and remembers having lost his voice from shouting in the gravelly impersonation throughout the route. It was at this parade's Henson after-party that Kermit Love introduced him to Jim Henson.[21]

The 1981 float promoted the new Sesame Street Live shows, including walk-around characters. A sign was carried in front of the float: "Macy's presents Sesame Street Live". [22]

The current Sesame Street float measures 32 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 2 stories tall.[23] It was designed by Louis Henry Mitchell, who was asked to have it represent "the show’s history (the classic brownstone) while also doing something modern and visually exciting

Year Song Characters
1974 Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Mr. Hooper, Gordon, Bob. [24]
1978 Big Bird [25]
1979 Cookie Monster[26]
1981 Big Bird, Sesame Street Live characters [22]
1982 Big Bird, Maria, Mr. Hooper, Gordon, Susan [27]
1984 Big Bird, Oscar, walk-around Ernie, walk-around Bert, walk-around Cookie Monster [28]
1990 "Do You Like Me?" [29] Ernie and Bert walk-around characters.
1997 "Rubber Duckie"
1998 "Sing" [2]
1999 "How Do You Do?" [2]
2000 "Reach Your Hand Up High"
2001 "A Little Bit" Gordon Bob, Maria, Gina, Alan, Big Bird  Elmo Zoe  Alice  Bert  Ernie  BarkleyGrover  Cookie Monster  Rosita    The Count,   Baby Bear,   Telly   Oscar  Humphrey  Ingrid  Natasha
2002 "We Are All Earthlings" U.S. characters: 

Big Bird  Elmo  Zoe Herry Telly  Grover The Count, Rosita  Bert  Cookie  Ernie  Oscar Alan, Gina Miles Susan Luis Bob The Kids MariaGordon  International: Filfil Khokha Nimnim Hu Hu Zhu  .Samson Rumpel Abelardo  Lola Pancho Zeliboba,Businka Kubik Kareem Haneen Oofnik the grouch Dafi

2003 "Good Morning World" Big Bird  Elmo  Grover  Herry  Mumford  Telly  Baby Bear,The Count,Zoe Prairie DawnRosita  Bert  Cookie  Ernie  Barkley  Oscar  Alice Gordon,  Gina, Alan, MariaLuis, Bob, Gabi, Miles
2004 "The Street We Live On" Big   Bird  BobAlan GabiGina, LuisMiles Zoe Elmo Alice  Bert Ernie Barkley Grover Cookie Monster Rosita Prairie Dawn Herry  Karina the Ballerina The Count, Grundgetta Baby Bear, Telly Oscar
2005 "Dancing Shoes"
2006 "Another Sunny Day" [30] Alan  Abby Cadabby  Big Bird  Zoe  Elmo  Grover  Cookie MonsterPrairie Dawn  Mr. Johnson,  Rosita  Gabi, Gina, Susan, Luis, Bob, Gordon, Miles  Penguin  AM Monster  Herry Monster  Hoots  Baby Bear,Oscar Bert  Ernie  The Count,Grundgetta  Telly 
2007 "It Feels Good When You Sing a Song" [31] Abby Cadabby Alan, Gina, Miles, Gabi, Luis,, Bob, SusanThe KidsMariaBig Bird  Zoe  Elmo Hoots the Owl   Barkley  Baby Bear,Grover  Cookie Monster  Alice Snuffleupagus  Rosita  Prairie Dawn  Murray Monster  Oscar the Grouch  Bert  Ernie  Count von Count,GrundgettaTelly ,
2008 "Songs" with pianist Lang Lang [32] Abby Cadabby  Alice  Barkley  Big Bird  Elmo Zoe Chris Gina, Susan, Luis, Bob, Gordon Alan MariaHerry  Telly  Baby Bear,Grover Cookie Monster  Grundgetta The Count,  Prairie Dawn  Bert Ernie  Murray  Karina the Ballerina Rosita  Oscar Leela
2009 Medley: "Sing" and "What Makes Music?" [33] Abby  Big Bird  Elmo Zoe Chris Leela Luis, Bob, Gordon  MariaTelly  Baby Bear,Grover Cookie Monster  The Count,Bert Ernie  Murray  Rosita  Oscar
2010 "Music Deep Inside"    Abby Big Bird  Elmo Zoe Chris Leela Luis, Bob, Gordon  Gabi Susan Gina MariaTelly  Baby Bear,Grover Cookie Monster  The Count,Bert ErnieMurray  Rosita  Oscar
2011 "Meet Me on Sesame Street" (YouTube)   Abby Big Bird  Elmo Zoe Chris Leela Luis, Bob, Gordon  Susan Gina MariaTelly  Baby Bear,Grover Cookie Monster  The Count,Bert ErnieMurray  Rosita  Oscar
2012 "What I Am"   Abby Big Bird  Elmo Zoe Chris Leela  Bob, Gordon   Alan Telly  Baby Bear,Grover Cookie Monster  The Count,Bert ErnieMurray  Rosita  Oscar
2013 "Somebody Come and Play"

Jimmy Fallon and the RootsBig Bird  Elmo Abby Grover Cookie   Herry  Telly Zoe Baby Bear, The Count,  Bert  Ernie  Murray  Rosita  Oscar  Mando, Alan, Leela, Maria, Luis, Chris

2014 "Growing" Mando, Leela, Alan, Maria, Gordon, Elmo, Abby, Grover, Big Bird, Oscar, Murray, The Count, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, Zoe, Baby Bear, Telly, Prairie Dawn

Fraggle Rock floatEdit

A Fraggle Rock float appeared in the Parade in 1983 [2] and 1984 [34] The float featured Junior Gorg sitting on top, swinging his club on a set based on the Gorgs' garden. Uncle Traveling Matt hid below Junior's line of sight. Below Junior, the float opened out into a lavish Fraggle caves set, where the main characters played instruments and sang while other Fraggles played around them -- including two Fraggles balanced on a seesaw. The Fraggles performed a short version of the "Fraggle Rock Theme".[35]

In 1984, the float was also accompanied by a group of Fraggle walk-around characters.[28]

Muppet Appearances at the Macy's ParadeEdit

[18]Bold text indicates the debut of a new balloon, float or appearance. 1974: Sesame Street float

  • 1975: Sesame Street float [24]
  • 1976: Sesame Street float [36]
  • 1977: Kermit the Frog balloon [2], Sesame Street float [19]
  • 1978: Kermit the Frog balloon [2], Sesame Street float [19]
  • 1979: The Electric Mayhem bus [4], new Sesame Street float [20], Kermit the Frog balloon [4]
  • 1980: Sesame Street float [2]
  • 1981: Kermit the Frog balloon [2], Sesame Street float [22]
  • 1982: Kermit the Frog balloon [2], Sesame Street float [27]
  • 1983: Fraggle Rock float [2], Kermit the Frog balloon [37]
  • 1984: Fraggle Rock float [34], Kermit the Frog balloon [28], Sesame Street car [28]
  • 1985: Kermit the Frog balloon [2]
  • 1986: Kermit the Frog balloon [6]
  • 1987: Jim Henson and Kermit accept the Rollie Award [2], Kermit the Frog balloon [38]
  • 1988: Big Bird balloon
  • 1989: Big Bird balloon
  • 1990: Kermit and Miss Piggy walk-arounds riding in a Rolls-Royce car [39], Ernie and Bert walk-arounds sing "Do You Like Me?" [29], Kermit the Frog balloon [40], Big Bird balloon [40], broadcast includes a tribute to Henson [39]
  • 1991: Kermit the Frog balloon [8]
  • 1992: Big Bird balloon [41]
  • 1993: Big Bird balloon [42]
  • 1994: Big Bird balloon [43]
  • 1995: Big Bird balloon [44], Sesame Street float [45]
  • 1996: Big Bird balloon [2], Sesame Street float [2]
  • 1997: Big Bird balloon [46] Sesame Street float
  • 1998: New Sesame Street float [47], Big Bird balloon [48]
  • 1999: Big Bird balloon [49], Sesame Street float [2]
  • 2000: Big Bird balloon [50], Sesame Street float
  • 2001: New Big Bird balloon [15], Sesame Street float [51], Kermit walk-around appears on a commemorative float with other children's characters [52]
  • 2002: New Kermit the Frog balloon [2], Big Bird balloon [53], Sesame Street float
  • 2003: Super Grover balloon [2], Kermit the Frog balloon [54], Big Bird balloon [54], Sesame Street float [2]
  • 2004: Kermit the Frog balloon [55], Super Grover balloon [55], Sesame Street float [56]
  • 2005: Super Grover balloon [57], Big Bird balloon [57], 123 Sesame Street float [57]
  • 2006: Super Grover balloon [58], Big Bird balloon [58], 123 Sesame Street float [58]
  • 2007: Abby Cadabby balloon [59], Kermit the Frog balloon [59], 123 Sesame Street float [59]
  • 2008: Kermit the Frog rides on the Central Park float and performs "I Believe" [13], Kermit the Frog balloon [60], Abby Cadabby balloon [60], 123 Sesame Street float with Lang Lang [60]
  • 2009: Kermit the Frog balloon, 123 Sesame Street Float, Abby Cadabby Balloon, Kermit rides on the Bountiful Harvest Cornucopia float and perfoms "I Believe" with Tiffany Thornton
  • 2010: Kermit the Frog balloon, 123 Sesame Street Float
  • 2011: Kermit the Frog balloon, 123 Sesame Street Float
  • 2012: Kermit the Frog balloon, 123 Sesame Street Float
  • 2013 123 Sesame Street Float with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots,
  • 2014 123 Sesame Street Float

MerchandiseEdit

Macy's has also released special plush versions of Grover and Kermit.Macy's also carries parade exclusive merchandise every year. An annual item is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Snowglobe, which features representative balloons and floats parading around in a circle. The Big Bird balloon has appeared in the Snowglobe, and the 2009 Snowglobe includes the Abby Cadabby balloon.

UNO produced a special "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Edition" of the classic card game; the cards included pictures of the Super Grover balloon (pictured on the fours) and the Kermit the Frog balloon (pictured on the sixes).

Specials and ReferencesEdit

  • The 1979 Sesame Street Calendar represented the Macy's parade in its November picture, depicting the Kermit float being heled by the Sesame Street Muppets.
  • Kermit the Frog made reference to his balloon incarnation by performing an impression of himself in the Thanksgiving Day parade on Muppets.com in the video "Take Three!". 
  • On November 21, 1978, WNET (the New York PBS affiliate) aired a special about the Macy's parade, hosted by Kermit and Fozzie Bear. Titled Hip Hip Parade, it featured the duo commenting on the parade, and poking fun at the medium of television. 

At 10 pm local time on Thanksgiving 2011, NBC aired a Matt Lauer-hosted retrospective of the event and its broadcasts on NBC, 

A 2013 episode of the show features a spoof of the parade, where Oscar is running the Trashgiving Day Parade on the street. The corporate sponsor is Mr. Discracy, played by Richard Kind

GalleryEdit

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