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Nov 24 2011

Big Balloon Parade!

Well the 18th Annual Big Balloon Parade took place as scheduled on November 20th in downtown Stamford this year.  They had 21 giant helium balloons and featured the debut of 3 new balloons, Hagar the Horrible, Smurfette, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Returning favorites included the Sesame Street Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, The Cat in the Hat, Mr. Potato Head, Popeye, Scooby Doo, Garfield, Fred Flintstone, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  Eleven Marching Bands escorted the balloons and floats and over 1000 volunteers participated in the UBS Parade Spectacular sponsored by Stamford Town Center and The Advocate.  The Honorary Marshalls were Laura Linney, John Benjamin Hickey and Gabourey Sidibe, who star in Showtime’s series “The Big C” which is filmed in Stamford and David Letterman personality Alan Kalter served for the 8th year as Master of Ceremonies.

Oh, maybe you thought I was talking about another Big Balloon Parade, one with only 15 giant balloons (though they have a lot of smaller ones too).

Well, it’s the 85th anniversary of the first Macy’s Christmas Parade in 1924, though to be fair they only started the balloon thing in 1927 with Felix the Cat and initially filled it with air.  When they used Helium the next year they had no way to deflate it so they just let it float away until it popped.

From 1942 – 44 Helium and Rubber were too valuable to the war effort to waste on crass commercialism and there was no parade so this is really the 79th edition, but it is the first with a female Grand Marshall- Amy Kule.

Sonic the Hedgehog is billed as one of their two new balloons, though it’s a retread (that’s a rubber joke) of a previous incarnation.  The only really new one is Paul Frank’s Julius.  Tim Burton’s controversial B is actually classed as a “novelty/ornament balloon, balloonhead or balloonicle”.

Macy’s 15 GIANT Balloons are-

  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Clumsy Smurf
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Super Cute Hello Kitty
  • Julius
  • Kermit the Frog
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Pikachu
  • Pillsbury Doughboy
  • Ronald McDonald
  • Sailor Mickey
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Snoopy as the Flying Ace
  • Spider-Man
  • SpongeBob SquarePants

And their 11 Marching Bands are-

  • Carmel High School, Carmel, IN
  • Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport, TN
  • Hawaii All-State Marching Band, HI
  • Homestead High School, Cupertino, CA
  • Homewood High School, Homewood, AL
  • Legacy High School, Broomfield, CO
  • Macy’s Great American Marching Band, USA
  • Miami University, Oxford, OH
  • Nation Ford High School, Fort Mill, SC
  • NYPD Marching Band, New York, NY
  • Plymouth-Canton Educational Park, Canton, MI

NBC broadcasts from Herald Square at the end of the parade and has more set pieces and celebrities.  They’ll also have an 85th Anniversary Special at 10 pm.  CBS is sited farther uptown at Broadway and 42nd St. and concentrates more on the Balloons, Bands, and Floats.

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