In 1927, promoters promised that the Thanksgiving Day Parade would be “bigger and better than ever,” and it was.For the first time, giant balloons traveled along the streets of New York City.
Balloons were introduced to replace the live zoo animals that frightened some of the children.The crowds of that era had never seen anything like the new balloons.New Yorkers were awed as giant dinosaurs, elephants, and tigers “peered” through fifth-story apartment windows.
In 1929, the balloons were released with the promise of a $50 reward for anyone who found them.The release program ended three years later when a man attempted to use a plane to retrieve a giant cat balloon.The balloon tangled around the wing and the plane almost crashed into Broadway.
The parades were canceled during World War II, and the balloons were donated to the war effort.More than 650 pounds of scrap balloon rubber went towards making vital tires and life rafts.
Today, the balloons are fashioned after characters from famous cartoons, video games, and Internet websites.Although the characters have changed, the sight of these huge bobbing figures never fails to enchant spectators.They have become a signature of New York City’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.