The M&M's balloon being grounded by the NYPD after snagging a lamppost and injuring two spectators at the 2005 Parade.

Even though the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a sight to be seen, sometimes things don't go according to plan, and even change the parade. Here are some mishaps from the parade throughout the years, including balloon deflation and injuries.

NOTE: If you see this * on any incident on the list, that means it's unconfirmed.

Before 1997

1929:

  • The Giant Dog tore loose from his leash near 90th Street.
  • The Turkey hit a No Parking sign at 58th Street and 6th Avenue.
  • Due to this, both balloons deflated and were removed from the parade.

1931:

  • The Terrible Turk hit an electric sign at 72nd Street and tore in half.
  • When The Cat took off at the end of the Parade, the balloon hit a telephone wire and caught on fire, resulting in the balloon's retirement.

1932:

  • The Tom-Cat hooked onto an airplane when the pilot of the airplane was attempting to catch it, sending the plane into a tailspin.

1933:

  • Andy the Alligator split in two, losing his tail south of 70th Street.
  • Gulliver had his nose punctured, but he was repaired at Lincoln Square.

1936:

  • Father Knickerbocker got his nose stuck at the elevated train line in Lincoln Square. Even though he was repaired, his left arm wasn't, as it had come off the balloon.

1941:

  • Santa Claus was damaged in one part of the route, and collapsed to the ground.

1948:

  • One of the Monkey's legs was punctured before the parade.

1949:

  • The Dachshund had problems at 47th Street.
  • The Crocodile also had problems at 74th Street. Both him and the Dachshund were repaired.

1951:

  • The Fish hit a lamppost and sprung a leak at 8th Avenue.

1952:

  • The Crocodile's right arm was punctured.

1953:

  • The Toy Soldier blew out overnight and was replaced by the Crocodile.

1955:

  • Spaceman's right arm was torn off near the start of the parade.

1956:

  • The Gorgeous Gobbler was deflated in an accident.
  • The Observer also got deflated in an accident.
  • Mighty Mouse barely survived the winds that year, as it nearly crashed at Columbus Circle. It did arrive at Herald Square, just mere seconds before finally succumbing to the winds and deflating.

1957:

  • The Observer almost hit a lamppost and a TV camera truck.

1958:

  • Popeye's arm got punctured, and so the balloon had to be removed.
  • The Gorgeous Gobbler could not be carried by the cranes.
  • The Observer could not be carried by the cranes.

1959:

1961:

  • The Gorgeous Gobbler's face deflated at 77th Street. Even with this, the balloon made it through.

1963:

  • One of the Goodyear workers stepped on the Donald Duck balloon's left foot, causing it to deflate.

1964:

  • Sinclair Oil Dinosaur's neck was punctured by a lamppost at Central Park West, which led to his body slowly deflating, and the balloon had to be carried lower than usual, but the balloon made it though.
  • Bullwinkle was pushed by winds and almost collided into the crowd.
  • Goodyear workers forgot to reseal the rip panels on the Popeye balloon. Because of this, he was removed from the parade and was replaced by Happy Dragon.

1966:

1971:

  • Happy Dragon's head was severely damaged after inflation.
  • Smokey Bear's hat was damaged after inflation, and it was so badly damaged that it required parcel replacement.
  • Snoopy was wrapped around the cab of a helium truck due to the high winds.
  • All the remaining balloons were grounded for the only time ever in the parade due to extreme winds and rain, which meant that the Smile and the new Mickey Mouse balloons had to debut properly the following year.

1972

1973:

1975:

  • Astronaut Snoopy was punctured by a lamppost at 73rd Street.
  • Underdog hit into a lamppost and tore his ear off.
  • Smokey Bear's right hand was punctured by a tree at Columbus Circle. As a result, the hand became deflated.
  • Sinclair Oil Dinosaur's front right leg was snagged by a lamppost at 77th Street but was freed and didn't get damaged.
  • Weeble also was punctured.
  • Underdog, Snoopy, and Weeble ended up being removed from the parade.

1976:

  • As with the previous year, Weeble couldn't finish the parade route as it had been punctured by a streetlight at the starting line. The balloon stayed deflated before eventually collapsing at Times Square and being removed five minutes later.
  • Underdog's right hand and left leg were punctured from lampposts.

1978:

  • Mickey Mouse's right ear was punctured.
  • Happy Dragon's head was punctured by a tree branch in Columbus Circle and the balloon collapsed to the pavement, because of this, the balloon had to be removed from the parade.

1980:

  • Aviator Snoopy was left out of the parade as a shard of glass broke the leg of the balloon. When he returned the following year, a noticeable black patch was covered over the leg puncture.

1981:

  • Snoopy nearly crashed into a streetlight and traffic lights at the starting line but was moved back and he wasn't damaged. But shortly after his NBC appearance, the patch on his leg detached, which caused the balloon to deflate rapidly.

1982:

  • Bullwinkle collided with traffic lights at the start of the parade so his nose started to deflate. The balloon struggled along the route until having to be taken out four blocks before the finish line.
  • Mickey Mouse was pushed around by strong winds right at the start and eventually hit a street sign, but the balloon remained undamaged.
  • Aviator Snoopy's tail was deflated during the march.
  • Superman had a hole in his head and leg, but was repaired but his right hand was deflated during the route.
  • Woody Woodpecker was lowered due to a puncture in his torso.

1983:

  • Mickey Mouse's arm was ripped off the night before the parade and later exploded while it was being inflated. As a result, the balloon was retired from the parade.

1984:

  • Garfield's left paw was deflated because he collided with an unknown object at the start of the route.
  • Woody Woodpecker got snagged by a tree but was freed and didn't get damaged.

1985:

  • Aviator Snoopy's Christmas list detached off the balloon and fell to the ground, but the balloon itself didn't get damaged.
  • Kermit the Frog tore at the stomach after colliding with a tree due to heavy rain.
  • Olive Oyl left the parade due to the rainy weather.
  • Superman's left leg was ripped by a tree shortly after the balloon was lifted, And due to this, He had to be removed.
  • Woody Woodpecker tore a hole in his coxcomb the night before the parade, but the hole was repaired in time. His legs however deflated during march.

1986:

  • Garfield's right paw and left-back paw were punctured.
  • Raggedy Ann hit a lamppost pole at 77th Street before the parade started and snapped the light off, smashing it in the process. Nobody was injured and the balloon was undamaged, although one of her hands was slightly deflated.
  • Superman's left hand torn off by a tree which caused its arm to deflate.
  • Humpty Dumpty had his left hand and left leg deflated by a tree branch near the start.
  • Olive Oyl almost collapsed at Columbus Circle and had one of her arms ripped off by a tree, but the hand remained standing due to it being a separate part connected.
  • Woody Woodpecker's head was nearly ripped off, with the winds claiming his leg.
  • Betty Boop, the last character balloon that year, collapsed onto the ground a few yards away from the finish line due to the high winds.

1987:

1988:

  • Quik Bunny brushed trees at 77th Street, causing his right foot to lose a small amount of helium.

1989:

  • The Pink Panther's tail was punctured. The balloon appears to have been damaged more along the route.
  • Bugs Bunny's side was punctured by trees before the parade started.
  • Snoopy's nose was also punctured by trees before the parade started.
  • Neither of the two latter balloons could start their march.

1990:

  • Due to the faulty stitching, Bart Simpson deflated the night before the parade started, but was repaired in time for his first march down Broadway.

1991:

  • Spider-Man gotten stuck on a lamppost and almost got his left hand popped, but he was freed.
  • Happy Dragon's tail was punctured before the parade but was repaired.
  • Kermit the Frog collided with a tree in Central Park West, and his head was deflated. Despite the accident, he continued on the rest of the route headless.
  • Betty Boop's moon was deflated during the march.
  • Quik Bunny went towards a lamppost, tearing his left drumstick and the drumstick had to be deflated, with the drumstick being a connected part of the balloon, it caused to rip his hand. He also almost hit a lamppost at Times Square.

1992:

  • The leaves on top of Bugs Bunny's carrot were ripped by trees.
  • One of the ABC Bouncing Balls was deflated, likely from a lamppost, and was lowered to the ground for the rest of the Parade.

1993:

  • Beethoven almost crashed into a tree due to high winds but wasn't damaged.
  • Bart Simpson's T-shirt was ripped open by a lamppost.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog lost a spike and punctured his left arm before crashing into a lamppost at Columbus Circle, injuring both a 10-year old girl and an off-duty police officer. Additionally, a woman was overwhelmed with helium fumes. All three were treated at the scene. Sonic didn’t finish the parade.
  • Ronald McDonald's green balloon was missing.
  • Woody Woodpecker's hand was ripped by a tree causing it to slowly deflate the balloon so it needed to be lowered to the ground.
  • Rex the Dinosaur was blown into a lamppost at Columbus Circle, causing his entire head to deflate. Despite this, he remained in the Parade until its finish line.
  • Spider-Man had his head partly deflated after colliding with some trees.

1994:

  • Quik Bunny lost control at Columbus Circle and ended up his ear getting ripped by a lamppost, but the balloon survived.
  • Barney the Dinosaur's left leg was torn by a tree along Central Park West. Additionally, A lamppost tore his side shortly after his NBC appearance.

1995:

  • Dudley the Dragon was speared and deflated on a lamppost in Columbus Circle and showered the glass from the lamppost onto the crowd below, injuring a person. The balloon could not make the rest of the route due to this. 
  • Garfield hit into a lamppost but ended up bouncing back with no damage done to the balloon. 
  • Just shortly after his broadcast on NBC, Snoopy ended up having his muzzle ripped open by a lamppost, leaving it dangling for the rest of the route, which may be the reason why it retired. 
  • SkyDancer had her face punctured by a tree. 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog also managed to snag on a tree and his face was punctured. By the time the balloon reached times square, His head lost alot of helium, Due to this, He was removed.
  • The Pink Panther suffered high amounts of damage.
  • Betty Boop had her moon ripped open.

1996:

  • Unexpected "wind demons" caused Woody Woodpecker's left hand to get ripped off by a tree.

1997: See 1997 Incidents for more information.

1998-present

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 meant that the largest balloons, like Olive Oyl, Woody Woodpecker, Betty Boop, The Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Bart Simpson, Rex the Dinosaur. and The Cat in the Hat had to be banned from making further reappearances. 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.

1998:

  • The Holiday Ornament balloon was punctured by an unknown obstacle the night before due to the heavy winds
  • High winds caused the Garfield, Spider-Man, and Quik Bunny balloons to collide with lampposts and tree branches at 77th Street, tearing all three of them open in the process. Due to their damages, all the balloons were taken out of the parade lineup.
  • A gust of wind pushed Wild Thing into a lamppost right at the very start of the parade, ripping its left claw. Despite the balloon only being slightly damaged, it had to be removed from the parade alongside the previous three balloons.
  • Dexter's right rocket was deflated during his debut march.

1999:

  • Just like the previous year, the Wild Thing balloon could not make his official debut, As he couldn't be inflated due to one of his chambers not being to inflate properly, so he had to be removed once again. With Bell Atlantic’s rebranding the following year, the Wild Thing had to be retired, but managed to finally make his official debut two years later.

2000:

  • Rocky was accidentally deflated during preparation, which meant Bullwinkle had to fly alone.

2001:

  • Ronald McDonald had its left arm torn open after colliding with some Central Park trees.

2002:

2003:

2004:

  • One of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Stars did not make it onto the route for unknown reasons.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants was snagged by a lamppost at Times Square but was freed.
  • Tooey had deflated randomly near the starting line, but was re-inflated and made rest of the route just fine.
  • Charlie Brown almost crashed into a street light, as gusty winds pushed him dangerously close to it but was moved back. For an unknown reason, his Football also had lost 40% of its helium by the time it reached Herald Square.
  • Garfield suffered damage from his left paw after being snagged by a tree.
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog was snagged by a tree. Unlike Garfield, Clifford wasn't damaged.

2005:

  • Strike Up the Band Barney was nearly blown away, and his foot got ripped by a street light. Additionally, his nose was also messed up.
  • M&M's Red and Yellow Brighten the Holidays got caught on a streetlight in Times Square and dropped parts of the light onto the crowd, giving two sisters minor injuries, resulting in the balloon being grounded by the NYPD as a safety precaution. The present-day safety rules were introduced because of this.

2006:

  • SpongeBob SquarePants once again snagged a lamppost and was freed.
  • Bumpus from the Weebles Balloonicle unit also tipped over and deflated before the parade started, but Tibby and Tooey made it though.

2007:

  • Abby Cadabby balloon's wand got detached for unknown reasons, but remained standing because it was a connected part of the balloon.

2008:

  • Keith Haring's "Figure with Heart" hit the NBC broadcast booth, sending the hosts off the air for a few minutes.

2010:

  • The Kool-Aid Man's start was delayed after he tipped over and deflated randomly. Luckily, he was reinflated and got his start behind the Horton balloon.
  • Wiggle Worm was punctured by a "ONE WAY" sign in an attempt to spin.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants once again snagged a lamp post and was freed.
  • The Red and Gold Holiday Ornament did not make it onto the route for unknown reasons.

2011:

  • Kool-Aid Man tipped over when it was being inflated.
  • The Ice Cream Cone was punctured by a tree at 77th Street but was only slightly deflated.
  • One of Ronald McDonald's ice skates got deflated.
  • SpongeBob got snagged by a lamppost one last time but was freed.

2012:

  • Uncle Sam's arms were deflated, as it wasn't inflated very well. The balloon struggled to stay afloat during the route, and had to be removed at 42nd Street for asthetic reasons.
  • A chamber inside Ronald McDonald's hair was busted during preparation, and was patched with duct tape. However, the balloon still appeared in the Parade despite this mishap.

2013:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog flailed in the wind at the start because his left hand got caught on a tree, but it was freed without damaging the balloon.
  • Spider-Man had his left arm partially deflated after impacting a tree along Central Park near the beginning of the parade.
  • Buzz Lightyear almost had his left arm damaged by one of the flagpoles of the Santaland Express in an attempt to pass through the float after it broke down at 55th Street.
  • One of Buzz Lightyear's safety buggies also ran over a female balloon handler and injured her foot.
  • The Spinning Dreidel had deflated randomly a few times and was left behind at the end of the parade. Luckily, it was repaired and eventually caught up in its planned position.

2017:

  • One of the ropes of Jett's arm got caught in a tree just before step-off, but it was freed with no damages done to the balloon.
  • The Red & Green Candy Cane was punctured by a tree near the start of the parade and was removed.

Balloonfest 2018:

  • Fleck, Bjorn & Jojo could not begin their test flights due to heavy winds, with Hugg never being used at all.
  • Goku knocked into a balloon handler, causing hospitalization.
  • Little Cloud was pushed around by the high winds and almost escaped. 

2018:

  • The Pilgrim Man balloonhead left the parade at Central Park South for an unknown reason, which meant that the Pilgrim Woman had to continue rest of the route alone.
  • The same situation happened with the Papa balloonhead, except he never made it onto the route.
  • Goku was pushed into the crowd by a large wind gust near Columbus Circle, but the balloon didn't get damaged.
  • One of the Red Believe Stars did not make it to Herald Square, as a gust of wind blew it into the pilar of the Santa's Sleigh float, causing the side to be punctured.

2019

  • A strong gust of wind pushed Jett to the left when turning a corner. This caused a male balloon handler to lose grip of his handling bone, and fall onto the pavement. He suffered an elbow and a knee injury.
  • Goku was caught in a gust of wind, causing a female balloon handler to injure her shoulder. Additionally, an older woman fell down, while another male handler tripped over a plastic bag. Neither handlers sustained any injuries.
  • A strong gust of wind caused Ronald McDonald's left leg to get snagged on a tree and tear open. Although the balloon was technically still safe to fly, he eventually had to exit the route early and get deflated at 42nd Street due to aesthetic reasons. After the incident, pre-recorded footage of Ronald from the 2018 Parade was used, making this the first time since 2005 that a giant character balloon was removed from the Parade.
  • Wiggle Worm nearly escaped from his handlers after his head was accidentally released by his handlers, but managed to recover.
  • The overnight wind gusts caused Yayoi Kusama's Love Flies Up to the Sky to be shoved into a subway map kiosk, causing one of its tentacles to tear open. Additionally, its face was also punctured by a few ATM machines and a portable restroom trailer. As a result, the balloon was removed from the Parade, and could not make its debut.
  • One of the Blue & White Macy's Stars escaped from the staging area and was torn apart after hitting a generator.
  • One of the Macy's Golden Starflakes also escaped from the staging area, but this Star instead went flying across the sweet until finally bursting after making contact with a building.
  • The Striped Candy Cane went out of control near the beginning of the route, but unlike 2017, it survived.
  • The Nutcracker knocked over a female balloon handler due to a wind gust, but she wasn’t injured.
  • None of the Balloonheads could appear at all due to weather concerns.

Gallery

Gallery: Accidents and Injuries

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