Papa Smurf is one of the protagonists from the comic strip the Smurfs. Most Smurfs are said to be about 100 years old, but at the advanced age of 546 (553 in the 1980s series episode "The Littlest Giant"), Papa is the oldest Smurf and the leader of all Smurfs. Despite his age, he is still quite energetic. Easily distinguishable from all the other Smurfs, Papa Smurf has a bushy white mustache and beard and is typically dressed in red pants and a matching red Phrygian cap, making him the only Smurf who does not wear white.
History with the Macy's Parade
Papa Smurf made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1980. The elder Smurf appeared alongside fellow Smurfs and Henrietta Hippo from the television series, New Zoo Revue. Papa Smurf would once again appear as a walk-around mascot in both 1983 and 1984, helping clear the way for Santa and celebrating Scooby-Doo's birthday, respectively.
Papa Smurf appeared in the Parade once again in 1985 and 1986, now travelling on foot with a gaggle of colorful clowns and other zany Macy's creations.
Papa Smurf would return to the Parade for the first time in over two decades in the 2008 Parade, now riding alongside Smurfette and Clumsy Smurf on the Smurf Mushroom House falloon, which featured a depiction of the Smurf's quaint mushroom-shaped cottage. Papa Smurf would appear on this float until its retirement in 2014.
Papa Smurf debuted in the form of a giant helium character balloon in 2012, and was constructed and painted at the Raven Aerostar Headquarters located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Taking a break from battling the evil wizard Garagmel, the five-story tall balloon features Papa Smurf clutching a 23-foot long cane and clicking his heels in excitement as he waves to the crowd. The balloon was produced to promote the upcoming sequel to the 2011 Smurfs film, The Smurfs 2. The balloon made its final appearance in the 2014 Parade, retiring alongside the aforementioned Smurf's Mushroom House falloon.
In August of 2020, the Papa Smurf balloon was brought out of retirement and used as a test subject for newly-implemented five-vehicle framework, which was put in place to reduce the amount of handlers and overall Parade participants. This test flight marked the first time the Macy's Parade Studio team experimented with new ways to fly the balloon to minimize the amount of handlers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.