The squishy Pillsbury Doughboy, famous from his TV ads, makes his signature giggle noise as he passes by crowds.
Blue, bearded Papa Smurf and his 23-foot cane are new, but Clumsy Smurf came ahead of him. His first flight was 2008, and he retired after last year’s parade. Smurfs have that multigenerational recognition Macy's is looking for, as today’s parents remember them fondly from a 1980s cartoon, but their children know them as big-screen stars getting a movie sequel next year.
The Macy's parade started in 1924 with mostly the retailer’s employees and their families doing most of the work. That tradition is upheld today. The only break for the parade was during World War II.
The only requirements to be a balloon handler? To be at least 18 years old and weigh 125 pounds or more.
The parade steps off Thanksgiving at 9 a.m. and will be shown on NBC. An app being introduced this year will allow real-time interaction, including the Elf-o-matic feature that can transform users’ photos into an Elf balloon.
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