As usual for the blog, here’s my thoughts on the cartoon character balloons announced for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York City, as well as Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade.
Macy’s Thanksgiving parade
This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will feature the usual array of cartoon character balloons. As usual, many of them are licensed properties that’re advertising something—a movie, a toy, etc.
Here’s a look at this year’s parade balloons featuring cartoon characters. A full list of the Macy parade’s features is available on the parade’s site.
- Hello Kitty
- “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”
- The Pillsbury Doughboy
- Pikachu (from “Pokemon”)
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Toothless (from “How to Train Your Dragon”)
- Finn and Jake (from “Adventure Time”)
- Elf on the Shelf
- Snoopy and Woodstock
- An Eruptor from the game “Skylanders”
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- A red Power Ranger
- Paddington Bear
- Ronald McDonald
- The red bird from the game “Angry Birds”
- “Dino” from Sinclair
- Scrat (from “Ice Age”) and his acorn
Many of the cartoon-themed balloons are rather recent. Snoopy’s always been a popular parade balloon, though imagine he’s mainly here this year for “The Peanuts Movie.” Ditto Paddington Bear tying into the successful live-action/CGI film that was released early this year stateside. A few balloons will appeal to those nostalgic for the 90s, such as the Power Rangers. I also expect Pikachu, Finn and Jake, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob to be popular.
On a particular note is the Dino balloon from Sinclair Oil. The parade balloon was first seen in the 1960s, though a brontosaurus has been the gas station chain’s mascot since the 1930s. Given Pixar’s movie “The Good Dinosaur” is due out over Thanksgiving weekend, and stars a green-colored sauropod dinosaur, I wonder if this revival of a balloon not seen in years is an intentional tie-in.
Also in the parade are two float-like “balloonicles,” as Macy’s calls them:
- The Kool-Aid Man
- The AFLAC duck
Do kids still drink Kool-Aid that much nowadays? Bottled water, flavored milk, and soft drinks seem more popular nowadays, and even soft drinks are seeing significantly declining sales.
Finally, there’s various cartoon character floats; a few include:
- A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float, based on the current Nickelodeon series.
- A “Charlie Brown Christmas” float, tying into both “The Peanuts Movie” and this year being the 50th anniversary of the Christmas special, which ABC’s been mentioning in ads.
And that about covers it.
Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade
Of course, there’s other parades held on Thanksgiving. The most prominent one might be the Chicago Thanksgiving parade. The Chicago parade’s less flashy, but it has a strong level of participation by smaller local and regional businesses, high schools, etc. The number of balloons are way fewer in Chicago’s parade, but seem to be picked based on whether they’re someone’s favorite characters (or are recognizable) versus advertising for a current movie.
Unfortunately, WGN’s anchors for the parade have had problems recognizing some of the characters; one year an anchor didn’t know who Odie from Garfield was. A far cry from animation enthusiast Al Roker for NBC’s parade coverage.
This year’s Chicago parade balloons:
- A “Teddy the Turkey” balloon
- Cheer Bear (from the Care Bears)
- Hello Kitty
- Plex (from “Yo Gabba Gabba”)
- The Re/Max balloon
Do you plan to watch either parade?