Kermit the Frog is the most famous character in the Muppets franchise, created by Jim Henson. Introduced in 1955 (as a lizard), he is a straight man who appears in the vast majority of Muppet productions. His most well-known appearance is as the protagonist of The Muppet Show, but he has also starred in a number of Muppet movies and specials, and has appeared as a regular on Sesame Street and in various public service announcements and animation projects. Kermit was originally puppeteered by Henson himself until his 1990 death, after which the role was turned over to Steve Whitmire, and most recently to Matt Vogel. The character is also known for his theme song, "Rainbow Connection," which reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kermit's look and voice have become iconic and are widely recognized throughout the world.
Macy's Parade appearances
Kermit has appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as one of its longest-running balloon characters, first appearing in 1977. The original Muppet version of the character has also appeared in the parade on various occasions.
As a Muppet
In 1979, Kermit appeared with many of his fellow Muppets to promote The Muppet Movie. His on-again/off-again girlfriend, Miss Piggy, rode in a Rolls-Royce vehicle, leading the rest of the troupe on "The Electric Mayhem Bus," which, in addition to Kermit himself, also carried Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, the Swedish Chef, Camilla the Chicken, and the members of the Electric Mayhem itself: frontman and keyboardist Dr. Teeth, drummer Animal, bassist Floyd Pepper, lead guitarist Janice, and saxophonist Zoot. Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo returned to promote the follow-up movie The Great Muppet Caper, in a taxi driven by minor character Beauregard.
In 1987, Kermit appeared alongside Henson as he accepted the Rollie Award for the Kermit balloon.
In 1990, Kermit and Miss Piggy rode on a Rolls Royce with clips of the Muppets' previous appearances in the parade, which preceded the appearance of Kermit's balloon counterpart.
In 1994, costumed-character versions of Kermit and Miss Piggy appeared riding on a horse carriage, as holiday ambassadors. The walk-around Kermit returned in 2001 to appear on the 75 Parade Superstars float, which commemorated the parade's special 75th anniversary, along with walk-around versions of Skating Snoopy, Sonic the Hedgehog, Garfield, and other characters whose balloons in the parade had been retired. Kermit and Miss Piggy also appeared in the 2002 parade, where they promoted It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
The real Kermit returned in the 2008 parade to sing the song "I Believe" on the all-new Delta Air Lines Central Park float. He also sang this song in the next parade (2009), this time on the Cornucopia float in a duet with Tiffany Thornton.
For the 90th Anniversary parade in 2016, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets performed a special act to open the broadcast. The song "Hey, A Movie!" from The Great Muppet Caper was converted into a special variation called "Hey, It's Macy's!", which appeared as the broadcast's opening number and was sung by a large crowd of Muppets. In addition to those characters that were present in the Muppets' first appearance in 1979 (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, the Swedish Chef, Bunsen and Beaker), the 2016 Muppet ensemble also included Rowlf the Dog, Lew Zealand, Sweetums, Pepe the King Prawn, and Statler and Waldorf. The troupe was accompanied by Muppet chickens, penguins, and a turkey; as well as assorted Macy's clowns, dancing Christmas trees, marching bands, cheerleaders, and Pilgrims. Following the opening number, Miss Piggy appeared in the introduction with hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, which was followed by the Electric Mayhem's live performance of "Twist and Shout." Toward the end of the parade, Miss Piggy performed "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in a duet with Tony Bennett on the Hallmark Channel float.
As a balloon
The Kermit balloon first appeared in the 1977 Macy's Parade. He mainly appeared after or before the Sesame Street float.
In 1979, the balloon traveled to England to help celebrate the International Year of the Child, becoming the first Macy's balloon ever to appear outside of the US.
In 1985, the balloon's stomach was ripped open when the balloon crashed into some trees in Columbus Circle. According to an interview with then-parade director Jean McFaddin in 1994, the balloon was nearly removed from the route, but outcry from the crowd made McFaddin keep Kermit in, even with only 30% of his helium left.
After the balloon's arm and hand were deflated in the 1987 parade, it was retired until 1990, when it reappeared to honor Henson on the year of his death.
In 1991, the Kermit balloon was ripped by a tree in Central Park West, leaving its head dangling for the rest of the parade. During the NBC broadcast, the balloon was presented via footage of The 1985 appearance. The balloon retired from the Macy's Parade in 1991, but it reappeared at the Macy's New York Christmas event in 1992 at Disney-MGM Studios. By this point on, the balloon had become very worn-out.
After an 11-year hiatus, Kermit returned in 2002 with an all-new balloon design. In the 2004 parade, this balloon was pushed into the crowd due to winds but was moved back. After 2004, Kermit was retired, but he returned to the lineup in 2007 and appeared until 2012.
Timeline of balloon appearances
- Kermit the Frog (1977-1987, 1990-1991)
- Kermit the Frog (2002-2004, 2007-2012)
- Generic Macy's music (1980-1986, 1991)
- "Rainbow Connection" (Piano version) (1987, 1990, 2007-2012)
- The Muppet Show End Credits Theme (2002-2004)