Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character, created in the late 1930s by Leon Schlesinger Productions (later Warner Bros. Cartoons) and voiced originally by Mel Blanc. Bugs is best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated short films, produced by Warner Bros.
Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray and white rabbit or hare who is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality. He is also characterized by a Brooklyn accent, his portrayal as a trickster, and his catchphrase "Eh...What's up, Doc?". Due to Bugs' popularity during the golden age of American animation, he became not only an American cultural icon and the official mascot of Warner Bros. Entertainment but also one of the most recognizable characters in the world. He can thus be seen in the older Warner Bros. company logos.
History with the Macy's Parade
Concepts for a Bugs Bunny balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have dated back to the 1970s, when Warner Bros. issued a Bugs Bunny balloon to appear in the Parade. Goodyear officials declined due to a fear that there would be a 'lack of aerodynamics". As a result, the Bugs Bunny balloon idea was temporarily shelved.
Many years later, in 1989, with Raven Aerostar now at the helm of Macy's balloon-making business, Warner Bros. decided to revive the idea of Bugs Bunny balloon to celebrate the character's 50th anniversary. After months of hard work, the Bugs Bunny balloon was finally completed. The balloon featured the beloved "wasically wabbit" sitting upon a shimmering golden star which was marked with the number 50, as he was dressed in a fancy blue tuxedo and top hat with a carrot in his hand.
While the Bugs Bunny parade balloon was in production, a cold-air version of the trickster was created for the 1989 Macy's Flower Show. The inflatable was placed upon Macy's Broadway marquee, and promoted a specialty plush that was sold exclusively at select Macy's department stores. This cold-air balloon was later refurbished into a generic brown rabbit inflatable for the 2006 Flower Show.
After completion at Raven Aerostar's headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the Bugs Bunny balloon made his first public test flight alongside two White Macy's Stars at the Great Lawn located in New York City's Central Park. Here, the footage of the balloon's inflation and test flight were filmed, and would later be sped up for a special segment that would be used in that year's edition of the NBC Parade telecast as a part of the pre-Parade entertainment.
Weeks later, Bugs Bunny, alongside many other giant helium balloons, were inflated at 77th Street and Central park West in preparation for the following day's big parade. After every balloon had been inflated and the media crews returned to their stations, snow began to fall throughout New York City. While first thought to be a wonderful sight, the precipitation started to cause problems. The snow caused the sandbags on the Bugs Bunny balloon to slack, causing the 75-foot tall balloon began to slowly turn over on its side.
Then-Parade director, Jean McFadden, grabbed on to one of the balloon's handling lines in an attempt to lower the heavy hare. However, the balloon continued to rise up, causing McFadden to rise nearly two and a half stories above the ground. Spotting a reporter with a camera, she cried for help. The reporter continued recording, leaving McFadden in the air. She eventually slid down the balloon's line, causing her to receive rope burn on her hands. By the time McFadden made it to safety, the balloon's 36-foot side had been punctured by nearby trees, and the Bugs Bunny balloon had to be deflated and removed from the line of march.
Despite the balloon's demise, NBC featured footage of the balloon's test flight in place of its planned appearance. Additionally, a costumed version of Bugs Bunny appeared atop a float that also celebrated his 50th anniversary.
By the time the 1990 Parade had arrived, the Bugs Bunny balloon was patched up and was able to make his first appearance in the Parade. After this appearance, the 50 on the balloon's star was removed, and the balloon continued to appear throughout the early 1990s, making his final appearance in 1992. During the balloon's final appearance, the leaves on the carrot were ripped off by a tree, but the rest of the balloon remained intact.
The Bugs Bunny balloon was initially planned to appear in the 1993 Parade, alongside fellow toon Betty Boop. However, the large amount of balloons caused Parade officials to remove the two from the line of march, with promises for the balloon to return in 1994. The 1994 Parade came and went, with no sign of the Bugs Bunny balloon. As a result, 1992 marked the last time that the Bugs Bunny balloon made an appearance in the Parade. Since then, the balloon has sat dormant at Macy's Float Warehouse, with its existence last being confirmed in 2016.
For the Parade's 75th anniversary, a specialty float known as the Toon Balloon-Abration was created, and boasted costumed characters of many characters who have had balloons in the Parade. Included on the float was Bugs Bunny, among other characters such as Pikachu, Kermit the Frog and Garfield. A costumed version of Bugs Bunny would later appear on the Hats Off To Our Heritage float in 2011, another float that celebrated a Parade's anniversary year. Since this appearance, the Parade has been without any Looney Tunes of Bugs Bunny representation.
Listed below are the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearances on the NBC Parade telecast.
- "The Merry-Go Round Broke Down" (1989-1992)