8. Balloon mishaps led to safety reform

Olive Oyl balloon with a severed hand at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Photo by Richard Roth Jr.

From gnarly tree branches and sharp lamp posts to strong gusts of wind and even a plane, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons have had to endure many hazards, and they didn’t always fare too well. Since the giant helium balloons were first introduced to the parade, there have been complications.

The Macy’s team and the City of New York now have many safety procedures in place to help avoid disastrous balloon mishaps. An obvious one was stopping the practice of releasing balloons at the end of the parade. After a tragic incident in 1997, Macy’s promised to provide balloon handlers with additional training. When winds are predicted to be strong, balloons are flown at a lower altitude.