Happy Dragon is a classic Macy's character, and appears as a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Dragon first appeared as a giant balloon in 1960, and seemed to begin a tradition of balloons in that period becoming long-lasting classics. After appearing for some twenty years, he retired in 1981.
He returned a decade later in 1991 with other balloons that were previously retired, such as Linus the Lionhearted and Raggedy Ann, to celebrate the parades 65th anniversary. Unlike them, he also appeared again in 1992, and retired again after that year.This original Happy Dragon still exists in the parade studio, and is currently the oldest existing balloon.
After another attempt to bring the original dragon back failed (see below), a new Happy Dragon was made in 2012, this time a novelty balloon dubbed "Rex" by Macy's. After a 4 year absence, he returned in 2016 and was retired in 2017. The character was most recently referenced as one of the five classic balloons shown in the 2018 parade's Verizion livestream.
- In 1978, the original balloon was punctured by a tree in Columbus Circle and couldn't finish the parade
- In 1991, his tail suddenly popped before the parade, but it was repaired in time.
- Macy's wanted to use the original Happy Dragon balloon from Goodyear that debuted in 1960 in the 2012 parade, but the city of New York wouldn't let them fly the balloon because of several technical problems, such as the balloon's old age and lack of handling lines.
- Strangely, the Happy Dragon is not traditionally associated with other classic Macy's novelty balloons, such as Harold and Freida the Dachshund.
- Appearing in 24 parades over 32 years, the original Happy Dragon is the longest lasting balloon in the parade's history.
- Happy Dragon (1960-1981, 1991-1992)
- Rex the Happy Dragon (2012, 2016-2017)
Total appearances = 27