The 71st Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the most infamous Macy's Parades to date. Not because of the quality of the parade, or rather the list of celebrities, but rather the massive amount of balloons that either got damaged and/or destroyed completely. Below, you will find a list of the incidents that happened in the 1997 parade.
Pilgrim Man's hat was missing
Arthur's right arm was damaged by a tree right at the start of the parade, but he made it through despite the winds. His right ear also deflated upon route.
Big Bird wasn't damaged at all during the route. He was lowered to the ground due to the winds, but he made it through the whole route. However, one of the Alphabet balls preceding the balloon ended up being punctured and deflated due to the high winds, but the other two survived.
Garfield's tail was damaged overnight, and his left front paw was deflated during the route, but the rest of the balloon remained undamaged.
At 72nd Street, Peter Rabbit hit a lamppost that almost popped the balloon's ear open. Even with that, the balloon remained undamaged.
The Pink Panther had to be lowered to the ground to avoid the high winds. Despite the efforts of the handlers, he ended up collapsing at 42nd Street and was eventually stabbed by the NYPD over crowd concerns, completely destroying the balloon.
The Quik Bunny's start was a bit delayed due to the winds, and was moved to Barney's planned position. His right ear deflated similar to that of 1994, and later also went out of control during the route, eventually hitting a lamppost at 36th Street which ripped its left ear off causing the balloon to collapse. The balloon survived and finished the route, but suffered so much damage that the NBC telecast used archival footage.
Due to Quik Bunny's start being delayed, Barney was moved to behind the Westwood Ho float. He also had trouble at 51st Street, when the wind was violently dangling the balloon. It then had it's side cut open by a lamppost, prompting the NYPD to stab the balloon.
The overnight winds caused the balloon to get damaged before the start of the parade, so he couldn't fly at all.
Even though the Rugrats balloon was quite large, the entire balloon remained just about intact throughout the parade, with other balloon handlers from other deflated balloons also holding on to this one. Despite Chuckie's shorts receiving minor damage from the winds, it made it to the end.
In what has been described as the worst accident in the parade's history, The Cat in the Hat hit the same lamppost Peter Rabbit hit twice at Central Park West and 72nd Street, which ended up knocking parts of the light onto the crowd, injuring 4 people, most notably injuring a woman named Kathleen Caronna. The impact of the debris almost killed her, putting her into a month-long coma. The balloon continued with his hat deflated, and left the parade at 36th Street.
Spider-Man's left hand was damaged and he was half deflated. He was lowered to the ground, but made it through.
Bumpe's left legs were damaged, but the rest of the balloon survived.
Eben Bear was removed from the parade near the start after the Cat in the Hat incident.
The head of the SnowDad tore off the float and deflated. The other Snowpeople survived.
Petula Pig was also removed from the parade after the Cat in the Hat incident.
Paddington Bear was knocked right down and almost completely deflated, but eventually went back up before being shown on TV.
In recent years, new rules have been implemented to prevent incidents from occurring often, if not eliminate the possibility of them altogether. After the "great balloon massacre" of 1997, the giant character balloons would now be attached to two buggies, and were no longer allowed to exceed 78 feet in length, 70 feet in height, or 40 feet in width. This resulted in the larger character balloons being banned from making future appearances, including Woody Woodpecker, The Pink Panther, Bart Simpson, and The Cat in the Hat. In 2006, more safety measures were enacted, such as installing wind measurement devices that alert parade organizers to unsafe weather, keeping balloons closer to the ground during windy conditions, and prohibiting balloons from flying during very heavy rainfall or in winds higher than 34 miles per hour.