The Definitive Style Ranking Of The 27 Best Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons

Because not everyone is cut out for the balloon business.

I'm sure most of us won't even be awake for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade because #thanksgivingeve, AMIRITE??

But, if you're stuck with kitchen duty or are already marinating on the couch, let's take a look at some of the best Thanksgiving balloons (according to arbitrary criteria determined by me) the year they debuted onto the parade scene.

27. Clifford the Big Red Dog (1990)

Look, I realize that this is a controversial placement, but this is a ~style~ ranking, and even though colored fur is very big right now, the fact is: Clifford is naked. Though, whenever they describe how big Clifford is in his books, I always imagined him being about the same size as his balloon version. So, I like that I can appreciate his full size from my couch while eating stuffing.

26. Sinclair Oil Dinosaur (1963)

For some reason, I always picture this image of the Dinosaur balloon when I think about the pantheon of Thanksgiving balloons, but I definitely have no idea what Sinclair Oil even is. (#millenial) Props on being extinct but still living on as a balloon. That's kinda cool, I guess.

25. Pillsbury Doughboy (2009)

Isn't it kind of crazy that the Doughboy wasn't debuted as a balloon until 2009? Like, every American family has used a Pillsbury product and all of them have probably served Pillsbury products at Thanksgiving! [Not an endorsed post, just facts.] Anyway, he always looks great and is never fat shamed. Keep doing you, Doughboy.

24. The Tin Man (1940)

I love that, out of the other Oz characters, the Tin Man was chosen because all he wanted was a heart, and that's pretty much what Thanksgiving is about: love, family, thankfulness, and Black Friday.

23. Paul Frank's Julius The Sock Monkey (2011)

I used to LOSE IT over Paul Frank. Sock monkeys are definitely a "thing," but I'm surprised that Julius just showed up to the party in 2011. Must've been a marketing thing to bring back the brand. While this is a ~fashion~ balloon, Julius loses points for, again, nakedness.

22. Barney The Dinosaur (1994)

In 1994, Barney probably could have run for President and won. That purple dude was killing the game in a major way. He's also the only guy who can pull off purple and green, so hat tip to you, Barney.

21. Smokey The Bear (1966)

Smokey the Bear has to be one of the weirdest mascots of American history. A big bear, wearing a hat AND belt with his name on it, is asking us to prevent forest fires? I obviously am terrified of him so I always pledged I would help in elementary school but now, looking at this balloon, I am terrified. Very effective. His uniform is iconic, and you've gotta give the dude props for being ahead of the custom clothing and accessories trend.

20. Thomas The Tank Engine (2014)

Thomas the Tank Engine is a boss in his own right (blue is the best color, he is great at solving conflict-resolution, etc.) but he is only this list because Alec Baldwin was in the Thomas movie and narrated the TV show. Alec over everything.

19. Uncle Sam (1938)

I have difficulty getting down with seeing Uncle Sam outside of the Fourth of July, but I guess Thanksgiving is a patriotic holiday since it's all about Pilgrims and buckle hats. Those pants tho. Werk, Sammy.

18. Bugs Bunny (1989)

This is another balloon that, IMHO, took way too long to get a balloon. Bugs Bunny, dudes? It took you until 1989 to get him up in the sky? His signature carrot accessory is rightfully included, and I like that he went that extra mile with the cummerbund.

17. Eddie Cantor (1940)

Don't worry, I had no idea who this was either. Apparently, he had a radio show and was on TV when there were only, like, three channels. Whatever, if you really care here's his Wikipedia page. Why is he #17? He is only one of two human balloons. Kinda rad, kinda nightmare-inducing. Great necklaces.

16. Jeff Koons Rabbit (2007)

This is definitely the coolest balloon out of the bunch. A modern art sculpture became a balloon in one of the oldest American traditions? Way legit. I'm sure 99% of people just thought it was a balloon animal.

15. Felix The Cat (1927)

I love how old and sketchy this balloon looks. It's also hilarious to think about little kids in 1927 geeking out about Felix the Cat and kids today geeking out about Queen Elsa. Perspective, guys. I love his goofy face, too, and his little tongue sticking out. What a jokester.

14. Cheesasaurus Rex (2001)

GUYS, REMEMBER CHEESASAURUS REX??? Wow, I know it's kinda sacrilegious to put him above Barney because the purple guy is an institution, but Cheesy was always way cooler and associated with the greatest childhood food of all time. He may have only been a part of the parade from 2001 to 2003, but I love him anyway. Props to your fam if you get to have mac 'n' cheese this Thanksgiving.

13. Sonic The Hedgehog (1993)

I personally never played Sonic video games, but this balloon is especially important because Sonic was the first video game character to become a balloon and Sonic always had the best sneaker game.

12. Hello Kitty (1976)

Duh. Duh. Duh. Duh. Duh. I will never stop loving you Hello Kitty. Just wish you could put in a good word for your friend Badtz Maru to get a balloon, but I'll keep holding out.

11. The Elf On The Shelf (2012)

The Elf on the Shelf became an instant Christmas tradition overnight, so it's v important that he get's a spot in the parade. You can tell that he's watching you with the eyes. Also, his hair is nicely coiffed.

10. Superman (1939)

OK, so, the first Superman balloon was really weirdly puffy and his logo was weak. I don't think he even had a cape, and also, he was standing up with his hands on his hips. Thankfully, the parade switched it out for this Superman, which looks more like Christopher Reeves and takes advantage the whole idea that balloons look like they're flying. Rome wasn't built in a day, y'all.

9. Underdog (1965)

Underdog isn't as ubiquitous as Superman, but his balloon gets a special shout out because he basically balls out in footie pajamas and it also graced the cover of the New Yorker, which is no easy feat.

8. Olive Oyl (1982)

Olive Oyl's balloon was the first female balloon character in parade history. Can you believe that? She didn't appear until 1982, but Popeye first showed up in 1957. *cue flawless hook*

7. Snoopy (1968)

There have been several different versions of Snoopy, but Aviator Snoopy was the first. His sweet Aviator cap wins him the #5 spot (also, his legend status). P.S. Snoopy vs. the Red Baron is the best Christmas song of all time, so bye.

6. Pikachu (2001)

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Are Pokemon cards worth anything yet? This balloon is so cute, can't you just hear him making that little noise? Plus, his tail is a lightning bolt which I always thought was the coolest part about him. Double plus, that dramatic blush is really working for you, Pika.

5. Bart Simpson (1990)

¡Ay Carumba! Bart's balloon is #winning because he is not only floating, but hes also skateboarding. He's also probably telling everyone to eat his shorts. Bart DGAF.

4. Big Bird (1988)

Rather than just being plain ol' Big Bird, the balloon version got dressed up for the occasion. Matching your beanie to your sweater is a whole lot of look, but it's really working. TBH, I feel like Lazy Oaf should start carrying this now.

3. Betty Boop (1985)

Betty Boop is queen of everything. The Josephine Baker finger waves. The perfect red pout. The super QT eyelashes. The metallic heels. The subtle wink of a garter belt even at 9 a.m. Betty is a boss.

2. Charlie Brown (2002)

Charlie Brown is already a master of personal style, having made early on-set childhood baldness #werk for him and cementing an iconic look with a shirt almost no one else would dare to wear (let alone every day). C. Breezy's balloon also comes with a football that he chases throughout the parade with his tongue out, and football is v Thanksgiving. HOWEVER...

1. Garfield (1984)

Garfield is, by far, the best Thanksgiving balloon, because Thanksgiving is Garfield's holiday. It's all about eating, napping, and complaining about family. He probably eats a lasagna shaped like a turkey and definitely has third helpings on everything. He snores the loudest on the couch while everyone else tries to watch football. He may not be wearing clothes, but Garfield is Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is America, and America agrees with this list.

Happy Turkey Day!!!

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