Felix the Cat is a funny animal character who appeared in animated cartoons of the silent film era from 1919 to 1930. Created by Pat Sullivan, he was the first cartoon character to attain sufficient popularity among movie audiences. The character later starred in a comic strip, several TV series, and a pair of feature films. In 2002, TV Guide ranked him the 28th-greatest cartoon character of all time.
History with the Macy's Parade
Felix the Cat made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1932 in the form of a giant helium balloon. Designed by Tony Sarg and constructed out of neoprene-coated cotton by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the Felix the Cat balloon stood at over two stories tall and was carried along the Parade route by four husky handlers.
Macy's has stated multiple times that Felix the Cat was the first-ever character balloon to appear in the Parade in 1927. However, newspaper clippings and footage from 1927 through 1931 show no indication of Felix appearing in any form. 1931's The Cat balloon is also oftentimes mistakenly referred to as Felix the Cat.
The original Felix the Cat balloon made only two appearances, and retired shortly after the 1933 procession.
Felix the Cat would later be represented for the Parade's 85th anniversary in 2011 through the form of a walk-around costume. During this appearance, Felix would appear aboard the Hats Off To Our Heritage! float alongside many other famous pop culture characters that have had balloons grace the skies of New York City.
Felix the Cat would appear in the form of a balloon over 83 years after its predecessor in 2016 as part of the Parade's 90th anniversary celebrations. From the time the Macy's Parade Studio team started research on the previous balloon to the balloon's first test flight was four months. The balloon is said to be the exact same size and shape of the original, retrofitted with modern technology and balloon fabric.
The balloon was also carried down the Parade route in the same fashion its predecessor did -- on a series of sticks. Additional balloon handlers dressed in Felix-clad apparel gave the balloon some much-needed balance.
“They wanted to appeal to the kids, but weren’t sure how it would be received,” Stephen M. Silverman, author of “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: A New York City Holiday Tradition."
The second Felix the Cat balloon balloon made its only appearance in the 2016 Parade, and has yet to be seen in the Parade again.