The Best and Worst of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Spiderman floating above the streets of New York = Parade Perfection.

With Thanksgiving finally just days away (and after three weeks of Christmas wind-up, doesn’t it seems like it’s taken forever to get here?), it’s time to start getting pumped up for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

The most celebrated parade of the year, the balloons are the showpieces that people get excited for and can usually be used as a pop culture primer on what’s hot that year (or what movie has the most promotional dollars to spend, at the very least).

With so much money on the line, in construction and parade fees, it is rare to have a misstep, but they can’t ALL be winners can they?

Among all the amazing balloons that make us ooh! and aah!, there will always be some balloons that leave people scratching their heads and wondering … What the heck was THAT? 

  • Kermit the Frog 1 of 20
    Kermit the Frog
    I'd be happy if the entire parade was made up of Muppets, but I think everyone can agree that Kermit is the King of Macy's Day balloons.
    Photo Credit: Rian Castillo.
  • Kermit the Frog, circa 1977 2 of 20
    Kermit the Frog, circa 1977
    Kermit reporting on the Kermit balloon. The Muppets are so cool they were doing "meta" humor before half of the hipsters practicing it today were even born.
    Photo Credit: Muppet Wiki
  • Pikachu 3 of 20
    Taking advantage of its position floating just above the crowd, it really looks like Pikachu is dashing through the streets of New York.
    Photo Credit: Ben W.
  • Hello Kitty Supercute 4 of 20
    Hello Kitty Supercute
    Hello Kitty started flying over Macy's Thanksgiving Parade-goers in 2007, to the excited squeals of little girls across the USA, and maybe a few adults (who were formerly obsessed with Hello Kitty), too.
    Photo Credit: Rian Castillo
  • Horton Hears a Who 5 of 20
    Horton Hears a Who
    Horton's balloon alter-ego perfectly captures his elephant-y Seussian wonder. And somehow manages to peek almost daintily around the corners of buildings along the parade route.
    Photo Credit: Sal
  • Jeffrey Koons’ Metallic Rabbit 6 of 20
    Jeffrey Koons' Metallic Rabbit
    Part of the Blue Sky Gallery, instituted by The Macy's Thankgiving Day Parade to introduce contemporary art to a pop culture event, Koons' rabbit debuted in 2007 ,bringing some much-appreciated art to the predominantly promotional balloons that make up the bulk of parade.
    Photo Credit: ann-dabney
  • The Pink Panther, 2005 7 of 20
    The Pink Panther, 2005
    This may be a nostalgia-driven addition to the slideshow, but this Pink Panther balloon will not only delight any child of the '70s — it will prompt an immediate whistling of the Pink Panther theme.
    Photo Credit: dbking
  • Keith Haring Drawing 8 of 20
    Keith Haring Drawing
    Another entry in the Blue Sky Gallery, this 48-foot-tall version of an untitled drawing by Keith Haring debuted in 2008, the year the artist would've turned 50.
    Photo Credit: Mark Chessler
  • SuperGrover 9 of 20
    Grover, in cape and helmet, flying over the streets of NYC can never be a bad thing. Unless, of course, we were all to see what he inevitably crashes into (always off-stage on the show)!
    Photo Credit: Muppet Wiki
  • Beethoven 10 of 20
    This balloon captures everything great about a giant dog galumphing toward you. Watch out!!
    Photo Credit: Ben W.
  • Buzz Lightyear 11 of 20
    Buzz Lightyear
    Boldly going where many have flown before, but never with such a huge grin.
    Photo Credit: Ben W.
  • Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags 12 of 20
    Monopoly's Rich Uncle Pennybags
    This may have been cool in 2003, but I have a feeling that Ol' Moneybags won't be greeted with the same enthusiasm now that Occupy Wall Street has come to town.
    Photo Credit: Alistair McMillan.
  • Eddie Cantor, circa 1937 13 of 20
    Eddie Cantor, circa 1937
    Eddie Cantor starred in a movie called Ali Baba Goes to Town, but translating the vaudeville star into a child-centric parade float still doesn't add up.
    Photo Credit: Ephemera New York
  • Betty Boop, 2005 14 of 20
    Betty Boop, 2005
    Hey, Star Seat, keep your eyes on the road!!
    Photo Credit: dbking.
  • Ronald McDonald 15 of 20
    Ronald McDonald
    What is it about this Ronald that makes me see him as running on all fours? And with his protruding bottom lip looking like a tongue, it's like he's a doggified version of the fast food clown. I don't get it.
    Photo Credit: Ben W.
  • Shrek 16 of 20
    I loved the movies, but seeing the big green guy floating up there reminds me that his claim to fame is how ugly he is.
    Photo Credit: Mark Chessler
  • Ecko Unlimited’s Mt. Rhino 17 of 20
    Ecko Unlimited's Mt. Rhino
    This giant float kind of reminds me of The Lion King musical, but without any of the beauty or grace. And the company that made it is a men's fashion and lifestyle clothing store that sells lots of hoodies. If you know what is going on with this one, please tell me, because, well ... huh?
    Photo Credit: Mark Lyon
  • Bobble-headed Pilgrims 18 of 20
    Bobble-headed Pilgrims
    Is this really the message of Thanksgiving? I guess I appreciate the effort, but I also don't expect a whole lot of Thanksgiving in this parade after Tom the Turkey goes by.
    Photo Credit: Mark Chessler
  • SpongeBob Squarepants 19 of 20
    SpongeBob Squarepants
    In theory, I love SpongeBob — but this balloon is one part "OMG, here comes giant SpongeBob!!!" and two parts "OMG, SpongeBob just tripped and is going to fall on all of us!!"
    Photo Credit: Hans Enderle
  • Pinocchio, circa 1937 20 of 20
    Pinocchio, circa 1937
    Um, yeah. I want to cut this one some slack because it was 1937 and balloon technology probably wasn't that great ... but when the builders realized Pinocchio's nose was going to look like the Hindenberg, they should've just scrapped it. Or maybe that was the point and it was an homage to the Hindenberg Disaster that had occurred in May of 1937, albeit a strange one?
    Photo Credit: Ephemera New York

Photo Courtesy: ©Alan Miles via

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