The One Where The Katzenjammer Kids Gets Away

We’re just one day away from the fattest day for Americans (I guess maybe besides super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day if you’re single) and that means it’s almost time for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For 88 years, this parade in the heart of New York City has been a Thanksgiving morning staple for families all across America. Thousands line up the streets of Manhattan as well as in front of their TVs to watch celebrities waving from floats, singers lip syncing, high school marching bands impressing their parents with their walking skills (and are a reminder that they are probably considered the ‘popular kids’ where they’re from), and Broadway musical stars perform much needed interludes. And then there are the balloons. There are a variety of different balloons featured in the parade, but you probably associate the Macy’s parade with those huge ass ballons of rando pop culture characters like Hello Kitty or Spongebob or Underdog.

But in the 88 years of this beloved tradition, there have been a number of odd, bizarre and straight up frightening balloons that have floated down the streets of New York. Here are just a few of the weirdest ones from the past eight decades – and you can be THANKFUL that some of these aren’t featured in Thursday’s parade.

Turkey {1932}

Naturally, some sort of turkey has to make an appearance at the parade. But this one barely looks like Thanksgiving’s main dish. Fun fact: for the first six years of the parade, all the balloons were released into the air at the end of the route because organizers didn’t know what to do with the balloons filled with helium. If someone caught one and returned it (to Macy’s?) they would win money. This practice proved to be dangerous, so they stopped in 1933.

Dragon/Nantucket Sea Monster {1937}

This guy was one of the first balloons ever at the Macy’s parade and often used as a guerrilla marketing stunt to raise awareness about the parade. If their goal was to frighten little kids (and adults) so much that they lose their appetites, it worked.

Pinocchio {1937}

I mean, really. REALLY?  I don’t remember Pinocchio’s growing that… way.

The Katzenjammer Kids {1920s}

These frightening folks were based on the widely popular comic strip in the 1920s. The mom is in the front, followed by just the head of the dad and the kids following behind. WHY DOESN’T THE DAD HAVE A BODY THO.

Mighty Mouse {1954}

Now I’ve never actually watched an episode of this superhero mouse, but I feel like his body isn’t proportionate. Are his legs usually like 10 times smaller than his torso, or…?

Father Knickerbocker {1936}

Father Knickerbocker was a mascot for the Big Apple in the late 1800s and early 1900s – hence the name for the city’s basketball team, the New York Knicks. However, this particular balloon was questionable since Mr. Knickerbocker was usually depicted with an over-sized judge’s wig. This balloon is not. Also, one time this dude’s nose got caught in an outdoor train and people were scrambled to do a nose job on him before he made his appearance in the parade.

Eddie Cantor {1940s}

This balloon is based on actor/singer/dancer/beloved New Yorker Eddie Cantor, who looked like this IRL.  He was only one of the few real life people to have a Macy’s balloon in their likeness, and I think it’s pretty clear why. Balloon bro’s high on helium and has no idea what he’s doing or where he’s going. Also, hammer pants.

Pumpkin {1945}


Acrobats {1938}

Sure, your eyes go directly to the mustachioed acrobat with weird fingers and thigh bands, but please note the smaller acrobat holding on for dear life at his feet. Again, the proportions are not accurate.

Space Man {1952}

Neil Armstrong wouldn’t land on the moon until 17 years later, and actually NASA wasn’t even founded until 1958, which might explain why this space man looks like a cross between an exterminator and a lego industrial worker.

The Thief of Bagdad {1940}

This is technically a float but, um… it’s weird, right? The Thief of Bagdad was a 1924 (and later 1940) film about a king who is tricked and cast out of Bagdad by the evil Jaffar (yeah, Aladdin and this share the same roots). He joins forces with a thief named Abu in order to reclaim his throne, the city, and the princess he loves (whose name isn’t Jasmine) Naturally, it needed a float in the Macy’s Day Parade, because what kids wouldn’t love seeing this frightening depiction of Jaffar coming towards them?

Linus the Lion {1973}

This was from a parade in the 70s, so it’s fair to assume Linus the Lion was chasing the dragon, right? Drugs. I mean drugs.

Ask Jeeves {2001}

If you don’t remember who Ask Jeeves is, just look him up on Lycos. While you’re at it, feel free to visit my Geocities site and sign my guestbook. *~sMaRtER ChiLD*~

Elf on a Shelf {2012}

Maybe look for the Elf on a Shelf in the bathroom this year?

B. Boy {2010}

This balloon was designed by Tim Burton. I think that explains it.

Rabbit {2007}

Artist Jeff Koons’ silver rabbit is not surprising if you know his aesthetics, but still, he’s definitely no main stream enough to have this balloon make sense during the Macy’s parade.

Booze Before Chews: A Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Drinking Game

Thanksgiving is our day. Our blog is named after a snack and an alcoholic beverage, need I say more?  However, everyone who’s had to correlate the cook times and temperatures of 10 different dishes, and schedule dinner around football games and children’s naps, knows that as much as Thanksgiving is about food, it’s also about multi-tasking. Oh, and gratitude.

So, why not multitask during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by getting your drink on? Responsibly, of course – feel free to use water instead and stop when you should stop.

I’m also including a parallel Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Exercise Game (Lose Before Chews?). Use that option if you are saving your stomach space for food (that’s me!), want to work off dinner in advance, or aren’t much of a day drinker.

* This list is from 2013, so we’ve added a few 2014-specific additions as well!

One Sip/ One Set* of Jumping Jacks if you see…

  •  Matt Lauer, and he has an obvious disdain for his cohost
  • Marching band from the midwest
  • Balloon or float featuring a cartoon character you’ve never heard of
  • Reality star from a show you actually watch
  • Nick Jonas, and you have to deal with weird grown-up feelings (he’s of age, it’s fine)
  • Country singer wearing a cowboy hat
  • Muppets!
  • … and you get choked up seeing Muppets for some reason. Really, what IS that?
  • One of the members of KISS sticking his tongue out
  • A float or balloon of one of your childhood favorites that’s been gone so long that it’s cool again (example: My Little Pony; Carebears)

Two Sips/ One Set of Burpees if you see…

  •  Matt Lauer, and the cohost has an obvious disdain for him
  • One of the flag girls having an obvious screw-up
  • One of the hosts or performers wearing an impractical but lovely white coat, a la Olivia Pope
  • Carrie Underwood singing something from The Sound of Music (shameless plug: we’ll be liveblogging the performance on December 5! (of 2013 – oh, what a night it was!))
  • Anyone from the cast of Peter Pan performing (yes, we’ll be liveblogging that too, and yes, you can upgrade a Sound Of Music performance to a “chug” scenario, because that already happened.)
  • Sandra Lee making something that’s technically gross but seems sort of delicious
  • A celebrity with his or her bored-looking teenager or tween
  • Mo’ne Davis, and you cry a little bit (she’s inspirational! it’s okay!)
  • The hosts refer to bad parade weather in the distant past (>25 years ago)
  • Pilgrims in buckle hats
  • ALL of the members of KISS sticking their tongues out

One Gulp/ 30-second plank if you see…

  • A Broadway performance featuring enthusiastic child actors
  • A clearly tangled or deflated balloon
  • A performance by an irrelevant musician (peak fame greater than or equal to four years ago)
  • A circus
  • and you find it really boring
  • A British star even though they don’t even do Thanksgiving JEEZ.
  • A Canadian star even though they already had Thanksgiving JEEZ.

Two gulps/ One Set of Pushups if…

  •  You get interrupted by someone saying “hey, can you come in here and help with…”
  • You have to explain to a child or teenager what KISS/ Gene Simmons is all about (actually, if you’re doing the exercise version you can skip the pushups- you’ve already had a mental workout!)
  • You spot very obviously out-of-sync lip-synching
  • All three Jonas Brothers appear together (they had a bit of a breakup)
  • You accidentally fall in love with Taylor Swift during her performance
  • A celebrity is on a float to which they have absolutely no connection (example: The cast of Law and Order: SVU on a Mott’s applesauce float)
  • The Duck Dynasty guys make a reference to shooting turkeys
  • Jimmy Fallon is there, and he delivers a thank-you note
  • Jimmy Fallon is there, and he brings Baby Winnie
  • Savannah Guthrie is there, and she brings Baby Vale
  • A youth choir sings something inspirational (example: Imagine, Somewhere Over The Rainbow)
  • There is a touching moment between Allison Williams and Brian Williams
  • The hosts deliver a half-accurate history lesson about the first Thanksgiving

Chug**/ Run in place until the next commercial break if…

  • There’s a runaway balloon
  • You accidentally call new Annie, Quvenzhané Wallis, “the cutest kid in the world” in front of children you’re actually related to. Oops!
  • One of the lip-synchers doesn’t even try at all
  • A Cirque du Soleil performer falls
  • At the end of the parade, you realize you missed the one thing that actually sounded like it would be interesting

* A set is however many you say is a set. We’re not Crossfit, here. Again, we’re named after a snack and an alcoholic beverage.

** Don’t really chug. Puking would really screw up your dinner plans.