Bart Simpson is a fictional character from the American animated comedy television series, The Simpsons. In the series, Bart is depicted as mischievous, rebellious, misunderstood, disruptive and "potentially dangerous" eldest child of Homer and Marge Simpson. The character is also well-known for his chalkboard gag in the show's intro, his catchphrases "Eat my shorts", "¡Ay, caramba!", "Don't have a cow, man!", and "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?". The name "Bart" stems from the word "brat", in which it is an anagram.
The character of Bart was first designed and created by cartoonist and series producer Matt Groening, while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. The character first appeared on April 19th, 1987 in the "Good Night" animated short by Tracey Ullman, and is voiced by actress Nancy Cartwright.
History with the Macy's Parade
Bart Simpson made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in the 1990 Parade, following in the meteoric rise of The Simpsons, which premiered on television less than a year prior. Bart was represented in the Parade as a giant helium balloon, which depicted him riding a skateboard through the streets of New York City. The Bart Simpson balloon measures 67 feet high and 34 feet wide, weighs a whopping 750 pounds and requires 12,724 cubic feet to reach its full size.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, former Macy's Special Events VP Jean McFaddin, commented on the inclusion of the Bart balloon in the Parade, saying "Basically, the kids pick the new characters. If the kids tell us they want Bart Simpson, the we give them Bart Simpson. That's just what happened this year."
Unlike previous balloons made for the Parade, many of whom were crafted by Raven Industries Aerostar division, the Bart Simpson balloon was instead created by Bigger Than Life, an advertising balloon company that was founded in 1985. Due to the company's inexperience with creating balloons to the scale of the Macy's Parade balloons, the stitching of the Bart Simpson balloon would cause many problems during his appearances in the Parade. In the early morning hours of Thanksgiving 1990, the balloon would begin leaking a substantial amount of helium as a result of the frayed stitching. The leak was eventually stopped, and the Bart Simpson balloon was able to makes its debut in fine flying form.
The balloon would also be referenced in the Season 2 episode of The Simpsons, "Bart vs. Thanksgiving". In this episode, Bart and Homer watch a parody of the Macy's Parade on television. Then, after Bart mentions why the Parade would use characters who are 50 years old (after discussing Bullwinkle and Underdog), a Bart balloon appears on the television, as an obvious nod to the Bart balloon debuting that year.
The Bart Simpson balloon would make an appearance outside of the Parade on September 6th, 1992. The balloon was part of a miniature parade held outside the Mall of America, which was hosting its grand opening festivities. Other balloons flown alongside Bart include Spider-Man, Betty Boop and Quik Bunny.
The Bart Simpson balloon would once again face troubles in the 1993 Parade. Gusty winds resulted in stiff cross-winds, causing the Bart Simpson balloon to be blown into a sharp object along the Parade route. The impact created a massive gash on the balloon's back, though the balloon was able to stay afloat for the rest of the Parade.
The Bart Simpson balloon was retired shortly after the 1995 Parade had ended, and the balloon hasn't been seen in the Parade since as a result of the rules and regulations put in place following an incident in 1997 involving The Cat in the Hat balloon. These rules state certain balloons could not be flown due to their size and shape, with Bart Simpson being one of them. The balloon has since sat dormant at Macy's Float Warehouse, having its existence last confirmed in 2016 as "salvaged".
During the Thanksgiving update for a mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out in 2015, a Bart Simpson parade balloon was added as a virtual decoration. The design is a nod to the real balloon, complete with Bart being in a similar pose on his skateboard.
In the Season 31 episode "Thanksgiving of Horror", archival video footage of the Bart Simpson balloon in the 1991 Parade was shown during the credits, with ominous music playing over the footage, referring to the balloon's off-putting appearance.