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Archive for Thursday, November 27, 1997

T BE THANKSGIVING WITHOUT THE BALLOONS

November 27, 1997

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Four new characters will grace the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

An event that millions of Americans are watching this morning, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, began taking shape Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of New Yorkers flocked to the city's Upper West Side to view "Macy's Inflation Eve." The giant balloons that bobble and jerk past skyscrapers in the morning were flat and lifeless on the street just hours before.

The deflated balloons arrived at mid-afternoon in their crates and canvas drop cloths were laid to cover all of 77th and 81st streets, Macy's representatives said.

The balloons were unrolled on the cloths, then tethered with nets and anchored with sandbags placed at 5-foot intervals. The nets prevent the balloons from taking off during inflation.

Macy's technicians and crews filled the giant balloons with a mixture of helium and air from four industrial tank trailers. Nearly 250,000 cubic feet of helium were used to fill the multiple compartments of the balloons.

About 11 p.m., the crowds departed from the inflation exhibit site and the balloons cooled their heels for the night. At 6 this morning Macy's technicians were scheduled to top off each balloon with a final blast of helium before the parade.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast between 9 a.m. and noon today on area NBC affiliates KSNT-TV27 and KSHB Channel 41, channels 8 and 59 on Sunflower Cablevision.

Here are four new balloons to look for in this year's line-up:

  • Arthur: Best known for his books and popular PBS television series, Arthur the aardvark joins the Macy's parade in a big way, with his 68-foot tall, 32-foot wide body holding more than 15,000 cubic feet of helium and air -- enough to fill a 75-foot by 25-foot house with 8-foot high ceilings. Fifty handlers will keep his head out of the clouds and his 15-foot-long feet off the ground.
  • Bumpe: Bringing an international flavor to this year's parade is the first appearance of Bumpe (pronounced Bump-ee), a round, red, irresponsible Laplandic cow from northern Sweden. As Macy's first-ever Scandinavian balloon, Bumpe expands to 55 feet tall by 33 feet wide when filled with 14,000 cubic feet of helium and air.
  • Rugrats: Tommy Pickles, Chuckie and Spike from the Nickelodeon cartoon join forces to become the parade's first three-character balloon. Nearly 17,000 cubic feet of helium and air will be pumped into the 60-foot by 48-foot balloon.
  • Ms. Petula Pig: A huge sow will do something thousands of starlets only dream about -- dance her way down Broadway. This 36-foot high and 24-foot wide pig is a Macy's Parade Studio original design. She's filled with 4,928 cubic feet of helium and air.

You can also be on the lookout for

  • Big Bird
  • Garfield
  • Peter Rabbit
  • Flying Fish, who gives new meaning to throwback. Flying Fish took his first holiday swim in 1941 and was considered a favorite until the early 1950s.
  • The Pink Panther
  • Barney
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Spider-Man: At 78 feet, he is the longest balloon in the parade. This year marks the 35th anniversary for this native New Yorker human-arachnid. His criminal-catching web is 40 feet by 36 feet.
  • Harold The Fireman: Talk about identity crisis. This is the fourth incarnation of Harold, who was spiffed up from his 1950s form. Before that, his balloon likeness was seen as a policeman in 1947 and a baseball player in 1946.

There will be several other novelty balloons in the parade. Some shapes you'll see include stars, pumpkins, an ice cream cone, a blimp and sports gear.

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