Old School Americana & Nostalgia


The Most Infamous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Mishaps

The Most Infamous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Mishaps

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a Turkey Day staple for Americans since it first began back in 1924. Families still gather around their television sets nearly 100 years later to watch giant inflatable characters float slowly down a New York City street as onlookers nearby cheer.

It’s a wonderful way to start the day every single year, to say the least.

While it doesn’t happen often (thankfully), every now and then something involving one of those parade balloons goes awry. When it does happen, it’s always memorable, and unfortunately, sometimes people get hurt. Here are just a few of those unforgettable Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon mishaps…

Felix the Cat (1927)

The Macy’s Parade shenanigans started the very first year the parade added balloons to its lineup. The idea of having giant inflatables in a parade was a new one. So, the execution of said idea was a little shoddy, to say the least.

Float builders knew how to build the balloons, as well as how to get them up in the air. But they forgot to think about what they were going to do to get them back down — or how to deflate them — until the parade was over.

Their solution? Simply let the balloon go and let the wind do the rest. Thankfully, nobody was injured in this incident (besides Felix, of course).

Mighty Mouse (1956)

Almost 30 years later, we saw the exact opposite of the “Felix the Cat incident” take place.

In this fiasco, a Mighty Mouse balloon hit a street sign, started to deflate, and eventually crashed to the ground. Parade organizers and balloon EMTs couldn’t figure out how to get Might Mouse back up in the air, so they just let him be for the remainder of the event.

Popeye the Sailor Man (1957)

While Mighty Mouse’s demise was still fresh on our minds, Popeye decided he was going to give us a much-needed distraction one year later.

Due to chilly, rainy weather, the hat on the Popeye balloon had begun to collect ice-cold water during the parade. Eventually, that water got so heavy that it caused the top of Popeye’s head to tip, spilling the freezing water all over parade-watchers nearby.

Nobody was seriously injured, but I’m sure those who got Popeye’d were none too thrilled.

Kermit the Frog (1991)

Just over 30 years ago, parade-goers (and those watching at home) saw the decapitation of Kermit the Frog. Well, sort of.

In 1991, after a rough encounter with a tree, Kermit’s head was completely deflated mid-parade. He did finish out the parade — because he’s not a quitter — but it was certainly a memorable moment for anyone who saw it live.

This was just a few years removed from a similar incident in 1985, where the exact same Kermit balloon collided with a tree. It must have been his destiny to go out this way.

The Entire 1997 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

That’s right. The entire 1997 Macy’s Parade was one giant balloon mishap.

Due to high winds, the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a lamppost. Part of the lamppost broke off, fell, and landed on the head of a spectator nearby. Because of this, both the Barney and Pink Panther balloons were literally stabbed and deflated by local authorities — which also caused a scene.

After this event, the parade planners got much more strict about rules and regulations regarding the balloons and weather. So, hopefully, we won’t see any more balloon mishaps added to this list in the future.