I dislike Macy’s (for numerous reasons I need not detail here) and am bored by parades, but when I came across this image of an early balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I thought it was so cool it must be fake:
Turns out that not only is it real, but it was among the very first balloons featured in the parade, and was designed by a man named Tony Sarg:
In 1921, Tony Sarg, a celebrated illustrator and puppeteer, bought a home on Nantucket and eventually opened a toy store in town. From his off-island studios nestled in Times Square, Sarg’s artwork appeared on the covers of magazines, on the pages of children’s books, and eventually in Macy’s department store window displays. Beginning in 1924, Macy’s held an annual Christmas parade to celebrate the holiday shopping season in New York City, and appointed Tony Sarg as its chief designer.
After three years of the Christmas Parade, in November 1927, the president of Macy’s, Jesse Strauss, announced to America that the parade was going to take it up a notch, way up. The press and the people of New York City swelled with anticipation, all waiting to see what Tony Sarg had in mind. At one o’clock, Thanksgiving Day 1927, Sarg unveiled his lofty creations—first a twenty-one-foot balloon man that peeked into second story windows and then a jaw-dropping sixty-foot-long balloon dragon. The balloons were a huge hit, and have been the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving Day Parade ever since.
Later he used the same balloon (or a modified version of it) to hoax the media that there was a sea serpent out on Nantucket. What a card.
Anyway, I don’t think Macy’s has had a balloon in the parade nearly as interesting since.
Insert your own (SFW) Man from Nantucket limerick below.