3. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving balloon was Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat at the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
Photo Courtesy of Macy’s, Inc.

Although not a popular cartoon character today, Felix the Cat was Macy’s first balloon, designed by Tony Sarg in 1927. Felix was a cartoon character popular in the silent film era whose popularity waned with the introduction of talkies and a certain mouse created by Walt Disney.

The first Felix balloon did not yet use helium to stay afloat; handlers had to guide the balloon with sticks, which helped to keep him from falling to the ground. The first Felix helium balloon was introduced in 1931, but as in film, the balloon’s spotlight was quickly eclipsed by the introduction of the first Mickey Mouse balloon in 1934 designed by Walt Disney himself.