Harold the Fireman is an original character from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
History with the Macy's Parade
The original Fireman balloon made its debut in 1948, being recycled from the previous year's Policeman balloon. The balloon was carried along the parade route with the help of several handlers sporting red button-down shirts and plastic firefighter helmets. The balloon was the last in the series of Harold balloons and was disposed of shortly after his retirement.
To help celebrate the Parade's 70th anniversary in 1996, a brand-new Harold the Fireman novelty balloon debuted alongside Flying Fish, a recreation of a fish balloon from the early 1950s. These two balloons were notable for being the first-ever balloons to be a part of the Parade’s heritage balloon program that reinvents historic Macy’s characters for a new audience. The balloon would also accompany the Funny Firefighter Brigade clown unit down the Parade route, where a costumed character version of Harold would appear in later years.
In 2001, the star emblem on Harold's hat was briefly replaced by an FDNY symbol, to pay tribute to the firefighters who sacrificed their lives during the events of 9/11, but it was removed from the balloon in 2002, where it remained the same until the balloon's retirement in 2008, due to the balloon's wear-and-tear and was likely disposed of.
An exact duplicate of the balloon was introduced in the 2009 Parade, now being made of a much shinier material. Like his previous incarnation, he became a frequent flyer, before briefly retiring after the 2017 Parade. He returned to the Parade lineup in 2019, however it is unknown if he will continue to make future appearances.
- In 2019, the star emblem and brim on Harold's helmet were bent.