• MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
  • HOME
  • 2017
  • 2000s
  • 1990s
  • 1980s
  • 1970s
  • 1960s
  • 1950s
  • 1940s
  • 1930s
  • 1920s
  • FAQs
  • Marketing & Press
  • Official Partners
  • Join the Parade
  • HELP
  • Disable Gyroscope
  • Parade's 2017 People's Choice Webby Award
    +

    Balloons? Handled

    Balloon design moves in-house in 1984. With that move comes a new system of balloon flight command involving a trained crew that's ready for action.

    MEET THE FLIGHT TEAM:

    • Balloon handlers: they lead the balloon along the parade route. Requirements: must be at least 18 years old and weigh enough to fly a hefty giant!
    • Captains: they organize the handlers, from getting the gang in costume to ensuring everybody’s in position to march.
    • Pilots: they lead the balloon’s flight! They learn whistle signals, hand signals and verbal commands to move handlers and balloons along the route safely.

    Cool fact: one pilot is assigned to watch the balloon from the front by walking backwards for the entire route. Gotta make sure the balloon’s flying at the right height!

    Handlers, captains & pilots for Kermit the Frog balloon

    Next Hotspot