Happy Hippo is a long-running novelty balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
History with the Macy's Parade
The original Hippopotamus balloon first appeared in 1940 and carried the tradition of generic animal balloons appearing in the parade at the time. The design was very basic, with the hippo bearing a toothy grin, and sporting a color scheme of green with pink polka-dots. Additionally, the balloon featured a flower-like ceinture, which wrapped around the balloon's body. The balloon was retired after 1941 making 2 appearances, and was very likely that it was donated to the U.S. military as part of the 650 pounds of rubber donated alongside many other balloons from that time.
60 years after the original balloon was retired, and to help celebrate the Parade's 75th Anniversary, Macy's recreated many of their classic balloons in the form of novelty balloons, with one being Happy Hippo. This version was nearly identical to the previous version, with the exception of the hippo being pink with magenta stripes, and supposedly being female, judging by the hippo's eyelashes. In 2006, the balloon was featured in the Macy's Parade on Parade Tour, where guests could learn the ropes -- literally -- of handling balloons in the parade. Two balloons were used for this event, the Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream Cone and the second Happy Hippo balloon. The two balloons would be switched out between locations as the other was being given any necessary repairs. The balloon made its final appearance in the 2006 procession.
Happy Hippo would later reappear in 2013 in the form of a brand-new balloon, to help promote that year's Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando Resort. This balloon once again features a different color scheme, with it being purple and eliminating the polka-dots altogether. This balloon also featured a bow decorated with Christmas holly, instead of the flower ceinture. This balloon was retired from the main Parade in 2013, but returned two years later in 2015 and 2016, but was retired that same year. It made appearances in the Macy's Holiday Parade until 2016, where the balloon would be used as a pre-parade performance. The balloon has yet to make another appearance.
- In a series of CGI-animated shorts released in preparation for the 2013 Parade, Happy Hippo was given the name, "Matilda".