MACY’S annual Thanksgiving Parade has been a staple since the 1920s, when millions of revelers line the streets of New York to celebrate the start of the holiday season.
Bosse replaced live animals with balloons in 1928, and hundreds of inflatable boats featuring iconic cartoon characters have been used over its 10-year history.
The likes of Popeye the Sailor, Kermit the Frog and Sonic the Hedgehog have all performed.
SpongeBob SquarePants, Ronald McDonald and Stuart – the popular one-eyed minion from the hit film Despicable Me 2 – are among the characters appearing at this year’s Thanksgiving Parade.
But despite its illustrious history, it has seen a number of infamous incidents from Sonic the Hedgehog bursting to a cat almost accidentally causing a plane crash.
The Sun takes a look back at some of the incidents that transpired at the celebratory event.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
In 1993, high winds plagued the Sonic balloon, causing the inflatable figure to crash into a pole on West 58th Street.
Not strong enough for the wind speeds, Sonic the Hedgehog was hit in the left eye by a lamp post.
The impact caused part of the balloon to rupture and part of the street lamp to fall into the parade-goers.
Both a 10-year-old girl and an off-duty police officer were injured in the balloon accident.
A woman was also hit by helium fumes. All three victims were treated at the scene.
According to Mike Goldenthal, who observed the incident from his apartment, “The big blue hedgehog crashed into the lamppost, broke the lamppost and a big chunk of the lamp went and it looked like he had hit that guy on the back. “
The balloon was immediately deflated and did not march to the end in the parade.
In November 1932, a 60-foot Tom Kat balloon nearly brought down an airplane.
Bosses frantically broke the news to New York news outlets, warning pilots to stay clear of the large inflatable boats ahead of the parade.
But an airplane did not avoid problems.
The shocking incident came at a time when Macy’s was releasing the balloons into the sky at the end of the parade – something not done since the near-fatal event.
However, people received rewards if they found the balloons afterwards.
About 30 minutes after the inflatable boats were released, a flight instructor and her student flew their plane into the yellow-striped Tom Kat balloon, The Hatching Cat explains.
The plane eventually went into a spin after fabric from the balloon covered the plane’s left wing.
However, because the plane was approximately 250 feet above the rooftops over Queens, the plane was able to continue the flight and land safely.
CAT IN HAT
Meanwhile, Tom Kat wasn’t the only cat to cause a problem during the annual march.
In 1997, the Cat in the Hat balloon hit a lamppost while passing an intersection at 72nd Street and Central Park West.
The unexpected impact ripped off the cat’s metal arm.
And the lamppost, which weighed about 100 pounds, fell, injuring four people – with the worst injury being a woman nearly dying.
One of the victims, Kathy Caronna, went into a coma that lasted a month.
A neurosurgeon at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center described her wound as “one of the worst contusions to the skull I’ve ever seen,” according to The New York Times.
They added: “I’ve seen people thrown out of cars looking like this and none of them survived.”
Caronna successfully sued Macy’s after the incident.
BARNE THE DINOSAUR
Barney the Dinosaur was also plagued during the 1997 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
A gust of wind threw the purple dinosaur against a lamppost – making it very difficult for balloonists to keep control of the large figure.
It was minutes before the handlers attempted to take control of Barney the dinosaur.
Police eventually had to surround Barney the Dinosaur and stab the balloon with knives.
Spectators watched as the massive balloon deflated before their eyes.
Footage of the incident was shared on YouTube years later and was captioned: “Thanksgiving ’97. The day Barney was death.”
KERMIT THE FROG
In 1985, Kermit the Frog’s stomach was shredded after hitting a tree during torrential rain.
The accident happened as the balloon flew over Columbus Circle.
Despite the balloon being deflated, the big green frog finished the “march” in the parade and “looked like he’d passed out,” said host Pat Sajak.
The frog ended the parade in Herald Square as planned, but only about three feet off the ground.
FIGURE WITH HEART
In 2008, a balloon designed to look like Keith Haring’s most popular work ran into trouble during the parade.
The balloon — dubbed “Figure with a Heart” — featured a black-outlined white figure holding a red heart.
As the balloon rolled down the street, it hit the NBC Broadcast booth.
After hitting the booth, they shocked TV presenters Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker. Fortunately there were no injuries.
At the 1956 Macy’s Parade, Mighty Mouse nearly fell at Columbus Circle.
As winds peaked at 45 miles per hour, the dinghy slowly fell to the ground after his right arm and ear lost helium.
It deflated just before it was supposed to reach the Macy’s store.
The bosses decided to withdraw the balloon after the infamous moment.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/4122691/macys-thanksgiving-parades-infamous-balloon-accidents/ Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade’s most infamous balloon accidents, from Sonic bursting to near plane crash