Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series of books written and illustrated by cartoonist Jeff Kinney, and published by Abram's Books. The series of fifteen books follows the daily adventures of middle-schooler, Greg Heffley, who writes about it in his journal accompanied by simple drawings. The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was released on April 1st, 2007, and has since received positive reviews and commercial success. As of 2020, there have been more than 250 million copies of the series sold worldwide.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has extended beyond the world of books, with films based on the first, second, fourth and ninth books produced by Twentieth Century Fox. Other books released outside of the main series include two do-it yourself books, several books detailing the process of creating the Diary of a Wimpy Kid feature films and three spin-offs; Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal, Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure and Rowley Jefferson's Friendly Awesome Spooky Stories.
History with the Macy's Parade
Diary of a Wimpy Kid was first represented in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010, when the series' main character, Greg Heffley, took flight as a giant helium balloon. Measuring in at 56 feet tall, 60 feet long and 25 feet wide, the 280 pound balloon cartoon required 90 handlers to be guided through the streets of New York City. The balloon's design features a not-so-wimpy Greg Heffley with the series' signature black-and-white color scheme, as he clutches his journal as he makes his way through the canyons and skyscrapers of New York City.
"I'm incredibly excited that Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been chosen to be a part of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," said Jeff Kinney. "When I think of all the iconic characters that have flown in years past, I feel humbled and honored that my character will be a part of the Parade's history". The balloon was created in part to promote the then-upcoming book in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Ugly Truth, in addition to the release of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules film.
Coinciding with the debut of the balloon, Abrams Children's Publishing sponsored a sweepstakes that would give Wimpy Kid fans a chance to see the 2010 Parade live. The winning entry would receive an airfare for four people, a hotel room for two nights, and VIP grandstand tickets to watch the Parade make its way down the Parade route. Kinney would later go on to assist in handling the original Greg Heffley balloon in 2012.
The original Greg Heffley balloon was retired after the 2015 procession, making six appearances in total.
In 2016, a new Greg Heffley balloon debuted in the form of a brand-new giant balloon. Transformed to more closely resemble Greg’s colorful new look as illustrated in the latest Diary of A Wimpy Kid books, the Greg Heffley balloon prepares for the winter decked out in red snow boots, blue puffer coat, red ear muffs and a green and yellow striped scarf. While he may be bundled up for the Thanksgiving Day weather, the second Greg Heffley balloon features Greg clumsily taking a tumble down the route with his arm outstretched to break his fall, having slipped on an icy surface with his nose buried in his Diary.
Commenting on the colorful and energetic new balloon design Jeff Kinney, author and illustrator said, “As a creator, this will be a huge day because I started with a pencil sketch and we tried lots of different ideas. For the new balloon, we wanted to do something really different and dramatic.” The second Greg Heffley balloon meausures much larger than his predecessor, at 62-feet long, 32-feet wide and is 62-feet tall. Kinney added, “It’s extremely exhilarating to see it come to life.”
Kinney would once again be a balloon handler during the balloon's debut appearance in 2016 and later in 2019.
The balloon was originally scheduled to be flown for the reimagined 2020 Parade with the help of a special framework of five utility vehicles, which were installed on several giant balloons to reduce the amount of handlers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The balloon was later cut from the live procession as COVID-19 cases started to rise in late November. As a result, the balloon's appearance used various clips from its appearances on the 2017 and 2019 NBC telecasts.