The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been an annual tradition in New York City since 1924. The parade features a variety of large helium-filled character balloons, many of which are based on popular culture icons. While the parade has featured many different balloons over the years, some have become more synonymous with the event than others. Here are three of the longest-running balloon characters in Macy's history.
1. Snoopy: The beloved beagle from Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics made his Macy's debut in 1968 and has been a regular fixture ever since. In fact, he is currently the oldest balloon character still flying in the parade (at 52 years old). He was originally designed by artist John Stango and stands at an impressive 55 feet tall.
2. SpongeBob SquarePants: This lovable sea sponge first appeared in 1999 and has been delighting parade-goers ever since. He was created by artist Tom King and is currently 42 feet tall (though he started out much smaller at just 20 feet). SpongeBob remains one of the most popular characters in the parade and always draws huge crowds whenever he appears.
3) Hello Kitty: The iconic Japanese character made her Macy's Parade debut in 2014, but she actually dates back to 1974 when she was created by designer Yuko Shimizu. Hello Kitty is one of the most popular cultural exports from Japan and her addition to the parade helped to further cement its global appeal. She currently stands at 36 feet tall but will likely be getting a size upgrade for future appearances