How Much Do the Balloons Weigh in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Everything You Want to Know About Macy’s Balloons

Macy’s balloons are perhaps the most anticipated part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. And, it’s no secret that they are massive (after all, they tower over some of New York City’s buildings). But, how much do the Macy’s balloons weigh? Up ahead, we deep dive into everything you want to know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, including how much they weigh, how long it takes to inflate them, and how much they cost.

Macy’s balloons weigh a lot less than you think. | Michael Loccisano / Staff/ Getty

The parade didn’t always feature balloons

It’s hard to picture the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without the giant balloons floating down Sixth Avenue. However, for the first three years of the parade’s existence, there were no balloons in sight. Instead, animals from the Central Park Zoo paraded down the streets of New York City in celebration of the holiday season.

Every Macy’s balloon is sponsored by a company

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is great for advertisement. In fact, every float and balloon is sponsored by a company. Sinclair Oil Corporation has sponsored Dino the Apatosaurus since its debut in 1963, and McDonald’s has backed the Ronald McDonald balloon since 1993. Other sponsors include Nickelodeon, Netflix, Dragon Ball, Dreamworks Animation, Universal Orlando Resort, and more.

They are made in an old Tootsie Roll factory

Before heading to Manhattan, the balloons are designed and made in an old Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken, New Jersey. From there, they make their way to New York City for inflation on the day before Thanksgiving, then make their debut at 9:00 a.m. ET sharp to help ring in the holiday season.

Some Macy’s balloons are up to 6 stories tall

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are massive. And, some are even as tall as a six-story building. Case in point: The Ronald McDonald balloon is 67 feet tall (that’s six stories!), 61 feet long, and 29 feet wide.

Each Macy’s balloon requires between 40 and 90 handlers

Some of the Macy’s balloons are so large that they require almost 100 people to help guide them down the streets of New York. According to Macy’s website, depending on the size, each balloon needs around 40 to 90 people to operate. Each handler has to weigh around 120 pounds and be in good health.

They have special wind detectors

Wind is a big concern at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In fact, the New York City law says Macy’s cannot fly any balloons if winds exceed 23 miles per hour or there are 35 miles per hour gusts. To help stay on top of the weather conditions while on the parade route, each balloon has a special wind measurement device.

Felix the Cat was the first balloon featured in the parade

The first balloon ever featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was Felix the Cat. However, there is some confusion as to when it made its debut. According to several sources — including Macy’s — the cat joined the parade in 1927, after the zoo animals retired. However, others claim that the balloon didn’t come on the scene until 1931.

It takes 90 minutes to inflate each balloon

Due to their massive size, each balloon takes around 90 minutes to inflate. Given the amount of time and the general excitement around the Macy’s balloons, the inflation process is open to the public the day before Thanksgiving. For more information on how to see the Macy’s balloon inflation, click here.

How much does a Macy’s balloon cost?

With the amount of work that goes into creating, inflating, and transporting the Macy’s balloons, it should come of no surprise that they aren’t cheap to purchase. Each sponsor pays around $190,000 for their first year and $90,000 each consecutive year.

How much do the Macy’s balloons weigh?

Since each balloon is filled with helium, they are technically lightweight. However, each balloon contains an average of 12,000 cubic feet of helium. That amount can lift around 750 pounds — which is why some balloons have knocked over street lamps and injured spectators in the past.

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