The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a time-honored American pastime. On the fourth Thursday of each November since 1924, crowds line up in New York to celebrate the holiday season. Of course, one of the most famous aspects of this parade comes from their iconic balloon floats, which is what the photo you’ve been screaming at above is about.
That’s right, while the Macy’s Parade is known for its oversized balloons of famous and beloved figures from our culture (also Garfield is there) it wasn’t always the wistful display you’re used to. In fact…
The Macy’s Day Parade Used To Be Downright Terrifying
Listen, we know the past was terrifying. Lawn darts used to be throwing knives. Kids shot each other with bb guns for fun. Mommy never really loved dad in the first place, but she was 19 when he proposed and like hell was she going to let herself become an old maid. And also, apparently, we spent our Thanksgiving lining the streets to watch this giant Mickey Mouse menacingly amble towards us to do something. Probably eat us? Definitely eat us, because dad drank a lot of scotch one night and told us, “God, I hope something snatches you far away from here so I don’t have to listen to your bullshit.”
The past was terrifying, is again what we’re saying. This image of Mickey staring into your soul is, by far, the least distressing black and white image of a Macy’s parade in existence. That’s how bad it used to be. Let’s dive in shall we?
This balloon is getting prepped for the 1929 parade, but it really looks like four people are trying to drag it, kicking and screaming, out into the world. “No,” he seems to be saying, bracing himself along the walls of his trailer, “I don’t want people to see me like this. The children will cry. Please.”
But they brought him out anyway. And the children did cry.
Jesus Christ, what is that!?
No we are actually asking. Like, we know the answer, but we want to know if you’ll get it.
Let’s take a quick look at a list of most common guesses.
1: “That’s from that Claymation button-eyes movie, right? Coraline?”
2: “Get it the fuck away from me is what it is”
3: “L..like, is this what would happen if a mouse fucked a grasshopper?”
4: “No, for the last time I’ve not seen Pan’s Labrynth.”
5: “It’s the little creature that drives Tim Burton.”
1,300,203: “A dragon, of course.”
Yeah, it’s a fucking dragon. Apparently. We know, right!?
Here we see the typical hu-man in balloon form. All hu-mans look like this, do they not?
This balloon becomes more terrifying when you realize that it’s supposed to be an actual person. Not a cartoon, or artistic statement on the dangers of opioid addiction, but a living, breathing, celebrity. That’s supposed to be Eddie Cantor, a famous comedian/singer known as “Banjo Eyes” because of his dance routines (don’t ask us, the past was weird). Here’s how he looks standing, normally, versus how the nightmare that was Macy’s decided to depict him.
You know what, now that we see them together, we take it all back, that’s pretty spot on.
Listen, balloon technology has made a lot of leaps and bounds since the 1937, when this picture was taken. Arguably the most difficult thing to pull off was giving Pinocchio a thin, but long, nose that didn’t look like a massive dick suddenly sprouted on his face, much to his abject horror (seriously, look at his expression of pure cross-eyed terror). That took a long time to perfect. Dick pun intended.
B…because his nose…looks like a dick. Get it?
JESUS CHRIST GET OUT OF HERE THAT MAN IS HERE TO KILL ALL OF US! WHY AREN’T YOU MOVING LOOK AT THE RESOLVE IN HIS FACE HE’S HEADING RIGHT TOWARDS US.
A lot of these balloons suffer from limitations from a purely technological standpoint. Back then, the materials we used to make our blimps and balloons were clunky and cumbersome, making it hard to create streamlined, light, realistic non-nightmares. Like that…dog? in the background there—it looks stupid as shit, but that’s because they were like “okay, we can make an oval balloon, and a face balloon, but how the fuck do we make legs? Oh, of course, just dangle some fucking curtains, no one will know the difference or make fun of it 80 years from now on the internet.”
But materials can’t be blamed on this murderfish. Fish-shaped balloons, it seems, were mastered by this point! No, the problem with this fish is that they got a perfectly fine looking fish, with fins and everything, and then were like, “Okay, now just to paint. How…how do fish look? Like, and admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve looked at one, but if memory serves 90% of their head is their giant unblinking eye, straining in anger. Oh, and they have massive clown lips. And thousands of sharp teeth, and their mouth is always pursed in a way to make it look like it’s always on the verge of calling you the n-word. You know what, now that I say it out loud, that’s 100% what fish look like, I’ll just make the balloon look like that.”
Great now we’re crying 😦
What is going on with dude’s mouth? Like, every single part of this image is unsettling. Especially the cat (?), and especially the disembodied smiling head third from the right, but especially especially the man standing there, mouth agape, who wears an expression that we can only speculate is about what a human’s face would look like if they walked in on their wife having sex with their best friend while their dead-eyed son calmly mutilates the remains of the family dog while sitting at the foot of the bed. Just…just look at him.
LOOK AT HIM
“I’m extra high because if I’m any less than 30 feet above the ground when kids are around the judge says I have to go back to jail.”
This one kind of looks like it pooped out that person second from the right, doesn’t it?
A- They gave the cop a fucking nightstick.
B- They have him specifically scolding you.
C- We’re honestly surprised they didn’t give him a gun. Like, a non-balloon, real one.
D- God, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade used to be terrifying.
Scene: 1937 Macy’s Parade
Mother: Now, Albert, what was your favorite float this year?
Albert: The severed leg!
Mother: Albert, that was actually, um, I think it was supposed to be a stocking.
Albert: No, I saw blood.
Mother: There was no blood, Albert.
Albert: There’s always blood.
That was an excerpt from our new play, The Life and Times of Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler.
Well, anyway, these are just isolated balloons. Surely when you put them all together in the same parade you get…
Okay, we’re gonna stop here. That’s more than enough to fuel a lifetime of Macy’s-related nightmares. More than enough.