As we get ready to celebrate 87 years of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, let’s take a moment to reflect on its creepiest characters.
While more than 3.5 million people in New York and 50 million people at home will tune in on Thursday morning to see this year’s giant balloons, earlier parades had humbler beginnings. Called “The Christmas Parade,” the Thanksgiving event was organized and performed by only Macy’s employees.
The first balloon, an inflated Felix the Cat, was introduced into the parade in 1927. After that, balloons became a yearly tradition. At the end of each parade the giant helium-filled characters were released into the air to float over New York for roughly a week and a $100 prize was given to whoever retrieved a deflated balloon.
According to digital magazine The Wire, another forgotten fact from the parade is that the balloons used to be extremely creepy.
“The creepiness appears to have peaked in the mid-1930s, about a decade after the parade first began,” read the magazine.
Here is only a small selection of photos of creepy, floating characters. To see more, make sure to scroll through the New York Public Library’s full collection.
1. Lip-Smackin’ Felix
Introduced to the parade in 1927, Felix the Cat was a trendsetter. He was also either very thirsty or very excited. His smile features a dangling tongue that raises Felix’s creepy factor a few bars.
2. Way Too Happy Cat
This cat from 1931 rivals the creepy clowns dragging it. To be honest, we don’t know which freaks us out more.
3. Dying Alligator
The folks at The Wire deduced that this was the alligator from the 1932 parade. What they did not deduce was the murder weapon clearly protruding from the alligator’s head. Rest in peace little guy.
4. Old Worried Pig
This spotted pig from 1932 must have a lot on his mind. His brow is way too furrowed for a normal, happy pig. Maybe he knows that a menu of Christmas ham is just around the corner.
5. Disembodied Head and Terrified Woman
This scene from 1930 pretty much sums up all that is creepy about the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you’ll notice, this image features a series of wide-eyed, disembodied heads floating along behind a woman who appears to be running for her life.
6. Angry Captain Nemo
What’s a parade without an oversized, disheveled Captain Nemo? Well, he was there in 1929 -- sans submarine, unfortunately.
7. Drunk Butler
This balloon from 1933, is of a butler. He may have had a few too many during his pre-gaming session.
8. Overexcited Dachshund
This pup from 1932 is waaaay too happy about being a part of the parade. Easy, buddy, easy.
9. Hungover Superman
Ever wanted to know what Superman would look like if he had too much to drink one night and then, in the morning, was inflated to the size of a four-story building? Neither did we. Of all the things to say about this image, we’ll just direct the reader to Superman’s pointy nipples. That should do the trick.