Woody Woodpecker is a funny animal character created by animator Walter Lantz for short films distributed by Universal Pictures. He is one of the most indicative of the "screwball" type of cartoon character that became popular in the 1940s. He continued to appear in theatrical shorts until 1972, longer than most other characters from the Golden Age of animation.
Concepts of a Woody Woodpecker balloon have dated back to the 1960's, when Walter Lantz requested to have a Woody balloon in the parade. However, Goodyear declined due to fears of lack of aerodynamics, and the project was scrapped. However, Kemp Balloons inc showed interest in a Woody balloon in the early 1980's, as Goodyear stopped producing the balloons. With both Lantz and Kemp on the job, and Goodyear giving tips on making balloons, the balloon was successfully completed
Woody Woodpecker first appeared in the Macy's Parade in 1982, behind the Frozen Woodland float, and had the honor of preceding Santa. Woody was accompanied by Lantz himself that year. The next year, the balloon was accompanied by Lantz again, this time with Woody's voice actress, Grace Stafford. In the 1985 parade, he was at the back of the year's balloon lineup. The Woody balloon made its final appearance in 1996, making 15 flights in all.
As he was one of the tallest and widest balloons to ever appear in the parade, he was one of the most difficult balloons to fly. As such, he had a number of incidents with trees throughout the timespan in which he was used: trees ripped apart his stomach in 1982 and 1993, his legs in 1985 and 1986, and his hands in 1996; the 1986 parade also saw his head get partially ripped by a lamppost.
Size restrictions implemented in 1998 mean that no balloon could be over 78 feet long, 70 feet tall, or 40 feet wide. As Woody was 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide, the widest balloon known to ever be made in the parade, his balloon was barred from making any further reappearances. As Woody has faded into obscurity, no redesign has been introduced since then.
- The Woody balloon's feet were red, which is inconsistent with his animated appearance; his feet are actually yellow.