5. Macy’s Thanksgiving balloons used to be released into the air after the Parade

Nutcracker balloon

When balloons first came onto the scene, they were released into the air after the parade was over. What Macy’s originally intended to be a bit of fun became an immediate problem.

As the first 1927 Felix balloon floated away, it was snagged by power lines and caught fire, spewing burning rubber into the air. The next year, when the balloons reached a certain height, they burst. Sarg’s solution was to put safety valves on them so they could float for days. Address labels were also sewn into the balloons so people could mail them back to Macy’s for a $100 gift certificate. Allegedly two tug boats also ripped a balloon apart vying for the prize after it landed in the East River. Finally the practice was discontinued in 1932 after a balloon was caught in the prop of a plane as its pilot was trying to catch it.