The Americana Spheres, previously known as the Stars & Stripes Ornaments, are a pair of novelty balloons that originate from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
History with the Macy's Parade
The Americana Spheres made their first Parade appearance in the 1996 Macy's Parade. The first balloons were two 10-foot, solid-colored spheres of red and blue. The balloons flew in the Americana unit of the Parade, alongside early versions of the Patriotic Clowns and the Benjamin Franklin and George Washington toy floats. These balloons were retired after their maiden flight in 1996.
In 1999, a new pair of star-spangled spheres floated their way into the Parade's line of march. These balloons, known as the Stars & Stripes Ornaments, were representative of the American flag, with the blue sphere adorned in stars and the red sphere bearing red and white stripes. These balloons became Parade staples, appearing in ten Parades over the course of nine years. The Stars & Stripes Ornaments were retired after the 2008 Parade.
After nearly 10 years of absence, the pumped-up patriotic balloons returned to the Parade's line of march. These balloons, known as the Americana Spheres, where first spotted at several test flights throughout fall of 2018. The balloons are similar to their predecessors, with the exception of the blue sphere's stars multiplying and the red sphere's stripes becoming much less exaggerated. These balloons were briefly retired after the 2018 Parade.
The Blue Americana Sphere made an appearance at a handler training event in September of 2019, alongside the seventh Snoopy balloon and C.J. the Elf. Later that year, the Red Americana Sphere would appear on-stage with Celine Dion during her 2019 Parade performance at the Macy's Parade Studio, alongside two of the Opening Macy's Stars, a Blue & White Macy's Star and a Poinsettia Ornament.
The Americana Sphere balloons were originally scheduled to appear in the re-imagined 2020 Parade, but were later removed from the line of march in response to increasing COVID-19 cases in New York City, which caused the number of Parade participants to be reduced by 88%.