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Even though the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a sight to be seen, sometimes things don't go according to plan, and even change the parade. Here are some mishaps from the parade throughout the years, including balloon deflations and injuries.

Before 1997

  • 1928: The giant dog balloon tore loose from his leash near 90th Street, and the turkey hit a No Parking sign at 58th Street and 6th Avenue. Both balloons deflated and were removed from the parade.
  • 1931: The Terrible Turk hit an electric sign at 72nd Street and tore in half. Felix The Cat got Tangled by telephone wires and caught on fire
  • 1933: The 90-foot Andy the Alligator balloon split in two, losing his tail south of 70th Street. Additionally, the Gulliver balloon had his nose punctured, but he was repaired at Lincoln Square.
  • 1936: The Father Knickerbocker balloon got his nose stuck at the elevated train line in Lincoln Square. Like Gulliver, it was repaired.
  • 1938: The Uncle Sam balloon started leaking helium, but he was filled up again and repaired.
  • 1941: The Santa Claus balloon collapsed on route after getting damaged.
  • 1948: One of the Monkey's legs was punctured before the parade.
  • 1949: The Dachshund had problems at 47th Street, as well as the crocodile at 74th Street. Both were repaired.
  • 1953: The Toy Soldier blew out overnight, and was replaced by the crocodile.
  • 1956: The Gorgeous Gobbler and the new Observer balloon both deflated in accidents. Mighty Mouse barely survived, and nearly crashed at Columbus Circle, arriving at Herald Square just seconds before finally succumbing to the winds.
  • 1957: The Popeye balloon's hat got filled with water due to heavy rain that was happening, and the design of the hat. This caused the balloon to go off-course and pour freezing water on the crowd. The balloon's hat was remade for the next parade, so it did not cause any more water spillages.
  • 1958: The Popeye balloon blew out overnight, and the Gorgeous Gobbler could not be carried by the cranes.
  • 1962: The Donald Duck balloon's hat got filled with water during heavy rain, and much like with Popeye in 1957, Donald's hat drenched cold water on the crowd.
  • 1964: Dino the Dinosaur was punctured by a lamppost, but barely made through the route. Popeye blew out overnight, and was replaced by Happy Dragon.
  • 1966: Superman's left arm was deflated by a tree.
  • 1971: No balloons could be inflated due to extreme weather.
  • 1972: Donald Duck's left wing was deflated by a tree. Due to this mishap, he was retired from the parade, but he briefly returned in 1984 for his 50th birthday.
  • 1974: Bullwinkle's foot was punctured during march, and could not be reinflated.
  • 1975: Astronaut Snoopy, Underdog, and Weeble were damaged by various obstacles along the parade route, and were removed from the parade as a result. Mickey Mouse hit a lamppost, causing his ears to deflate
  • 1976: Just like the previous year, the Weeble could not finish the parade route.
  • 1978: The Happy Dragon balloon was punctured by a tree in Columbus Circle and had to be removed from the parade. The Mickey Mouse Balloon hit a tree causing one of his hands to be deflated, but the rest of the balloon survived.
  • 1980: The Aviator Snoopy balloon was left out of the parade due to a broken leg on the balloon. When he returned the following year, a black garbage bag acting like a bandage was wrapped around the broken leg.
  • 1982: The Bullwinkle balloon sprang a catastrophic nose leak just a few blocks shy of the finish line. Other balloons had trouble that year as well, due to the high winds.
  • 1983: The Mickey Mouse balloon's arm was ripped off during preparation, and later exploded while being inflated. As a result, he was retired from the parade.
  • 1985: Kermit the Frog tore at the stomach after colliding with a tree due to heavy rain. Olive Oyl and Superman couldn't start at all due to the rainy weather which damaged them, and the list Aviator Snoopy was holding came off the balloon and fell to the ground, but the balloon itself didn't get damaged.
  • 1986: The Raggedy Ann balloon crashed into a lamppost and sent the lamp into the street. The Superman balloon also featured in that year's parade had its hand torn off by a tree which caused its arm to deflate. Betty Boop, the last character balloon that year, collapsed onto the ground a few yards away from the finish line; and Olive Oyl had one of her arms ripped off, but the hand remained standing due to it being a separate part connected.
  • 1989: The Snoopy balloon's nose and the Bugs Bunny balloon's side were punctured by trees before the parade started, so neither could start its march.
  • 1991: The Kermit balloon collided with a tree in Central Park West, and his head deflated, which meant the balloon had to be retired. He did return, however, with a new balloon in 2002. Meanwhile, Betty Boop did make it through the route, even though her moon deflated during the march, and the Quik Bunny lost his right drumstick.
  • 1993: High winds pushed Rex the Dinosaur into a street light and caused his head to pop; the balloon spent the rest of the parade with a deflated head. Sonic the Hedgehog crashed into a lamppost at Columbus Circle and injured both a child and an off-duty police officer. Woody Woodpecker was carried lower than usual as his stomach was ripped open, Bart Simpson's T-shirt was ripped open by a lamppost, and Spider-Man had his head partly deflated after colliding with some trees.
  • 1994: The Barney balloon tore its side on a lamppost. The Cat in the Hat's right arm was also deflated.
  • 1995: Dudley the Dragon was speared and deflated on a lamppost in Columbus Circle and showered the glass from the lamppost onto the crowd below, injuring a person. The balloon could not make the rest of the route due to this. Sonic also managed to snag a lamppost and was also removed from the parade. SkyDancer had her face deflated by a tree, Betty Boop had her moon ripped open, The Pink Panther suffered high amounts of damage, and Garfield hit into a lamppost, but ended up bouncing back with no damage done to the balloon.
  • 1996: Unexpected "wind demons" caused Woody Woodpecker's left hand to get ripped off by a tree.
  • 1997: See 1997 Incidents for more information.

1998-present

In recent years, new rules have been implemented to prevent incidents from occurring often, if not eliminate the possibility of them altogether. After the "great balloon massacre" of 1997, the giant character balloons would now be attached to two buggies, and were no longer allowed to exceed 78 feet in length, 70 feet in height, or 40 feet in width; this meant that the largest balloons, like the Cat in the Hat and Woody Woodpecker, had to be barred from making further reappearances. In 2006, more safety measures were enacted, such as installing wind measurement devices that alert parade organizers to unsafe weather, keeping balloons closer to the ground during windy conditions, and prohibiting balloons from flying during very heavy rainfall or in winds higher than 34 miles per hour.

  • 1998: A gust of wind pushed the Wild Thing balloon into a tree right at the very start of the parade and the balloon tore open. Additionally, the Garfield, Quik Bunny, and Spider-Man balloons also tore open right at the start of the parade and never made it down the route. Wild Thing wouldn't appear again until 2002 and Spider-Man was retired, returning with a new balloon design in 2009.
  • 2000: The Rocky balloon was accidentally deflated during preparation, which meant Bullwinkle had to fly alone.
  • 2001: The Ronald McDonald balloon had its left arm torn open after colliding with some Central Park trees.
  • 2002: The Cheesasaurus Rex balloon's right arm was shredded, but the balloon made it through.
  • 2003: The Gorgeous Gobbler novelty balloon that was leading the parade had some of his feathers shredded by a tree.
  • 2004: Garfield and Clifford the Big Red Dog were snagged by trees. No damage was done to Clifford, but Garfield suffered damage to his left paw. Additionally, Charlie Brown almost crashed into a street light, as gusty winds pushed him dangerously close to it. SpongeBob SquarePants was snagged by a lamppost at Times Square, but was freed. Kermit the Frog was pushed into the crowd due to the winds, but was moved back.
  • 2005: The M&M's balloon caught on a streetlight in Times Square and dropped parts of the light, giving two sisters minor injuries. The present-day safety rules were introduced because of this. In 2007, M&M's retired the balloon and replaced it with a float where its characters are depicted saluting Broadway theatre and musicals. Additionally, the Barney balloon was nearly blown away, and his foot got ripped by a street light.
  • 2006: SpongeBob SquarePants once again snagged a lamppost, and was freed. The balloon was left out for the next parade, but returned in 2008. The Bumpus Balloonicle from the Weebles unit also tipped over and deflated before the parade started, but Tibby and Tooey made it though.
  • 2008: Keith Haring's "Heart" balloon hit the NBC broadcast booth, sending the hosts off air for a few minutes.
  • 2010: The Wiggle Worm novelty balloon was punctured by a "ONE WAY" sign in an attempt to spin. SpongeBob once again snagged a lamp post, and was freed.
  • 2011: The Kool-Aid Man balloonicle tipped over when it was being inflated, and one of Ronald McDonald's ice skates got deflated. SpongeBob once again snagged a lamp post and was freed.
  • 2012: Buzz Lightyear's helmet tore a massive hole and was caught on tape in a nearby river. SpongeBob and Pikachu weren't inflated very well and had trouble on the route. Ronald McDonald's hair was also deflated by a tree right at the start.
  • 2013: Even though the winds were higher and the balloons had to be lowered to the ground, three of them suffered mishaps. Sonic the Hedgehog flailed in the wind at the start because his left hand got caught on a tree, but it was freed without damaging the balloon. Spider-Man had his left arm partially deflated after impacting a tree along Central Park near the beginning of the parade, and the driver of one of Buzz Lightyear's buggies ran over a female balloon handler and injured her foot.
  • 2017: The Striped Candy Cane hit a tree near the start of the parade and deflated.