Nearly two million fans line the streets in New York for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a tradition that started in 1924.
Back then, they set the enormous helium-filled balloons free once the parade ended, offering money as a reward once they were returned. They also used real animals from the Central Park Zoo in the parade like elephants and tigers. What about safety? Yes, that came later once the Felix The Cat balloon caught on fire after running into a high-tension wire in 1927.
The parade first aired on national television on NBC in 1945. In 2008, a balloon crashed into the NBC broadcast booth temporarily taking Al Roker, Meredith Viera, and Matt Lauer off the air. There have been numerous incidents with the balloons over the years where safety was a big concern, in fact in 1971 all balloons were grounded that year due to 40 mph winds. That was the first time in parade history.
Perhaps one of the more memorable and bittersweet incidents came in 1997 when Barney the Dinosaur bit the dust.
Police stabbed and deflated both the Pink Panther and Barney due to safety concerns, thus scaring children. This was after the 6 story Cat In The Hat balloon put one on-looker into the hospital (they were in a coma for 24 days).
Watch Barney deflate into oblivion. It’s kind of sad to watch, but it also brings me great joy. As far as watching the big parade on Thanksgiving, I’ll keep doing that from the comfort of my own home.