History with the Macy's Parade
The Pilgrim Man and Pilgrim Woman Toy Floats made their Parade debut in the 1975 Parade, celebrating America's bicentennial. Sculpted by legendary designer and sculptor Manfred Bass, the toy floats depicted the dynamic duo travelling from Plymouth Rock, where the first Thanksgiving took place. Decorated boxes surrounded the statues, with each side representing an iconic American symbol such as the Mayflower, a turkey and a star-spangled banner. The toy floats would become perennial favorites of the Parade's lineup, appearing alongside the equally-iconic Tom Turkey float.
The Pilgrim Man and Pilgrim Woman Toy Floats experienced several accidents over the years, such as the Pilgrim Woman losing a wheel in Columbus Circle or the Pilgrim Man experiencing a technical malfunction in 1991, both resulting in delayed appearances.
Fierce winds whipped about during the 1997 Parade, causing the Pilgrim Man to lose his hat somewhere along the Parade route. After this appearance, the Pilgrim Man and Pilgrim Woman Toy Floats were permanently retired from the line of march, making nearly two dozen Parade appearances.
Pilgrim Man and Pilgrim Woman were reintroduced to a new generation in the 2005 Parade, appearing as balloonheads, a special Macy's creation where an oversized cartoon head is placed on a performer's head, while the performer is disguised in a correlating outfit. The designs of the balloonheads depicted typical pilgrims; Pilgrim Man was dressed to the nines and wore a capotain while the Pilgrim Woman strutted her stuff down the Parade route in a bonnet, skirt and blouse, both standing at over 12-feet tall. Akin to their predecessors, the balloonheads would become Parade staples and march down the Parade route for over a decade. In 2010, the Corny-Copia Clowns would join the duo as they bobbed their way en route to 34th Street.
In December 2010, the Pilgrim Man and Woman Balloonheads would go Hollywood as they appeared in the filming of the 2011 film, Tower Heist. The balloonheads were part of a makeshift Parade that was used in a scene in the movie, which also featured other Parade elements such as the Flying Ace Snoopy balloon, the Yellow Macy's Stars and the Jolly Polly Pirate Ship.
During their appearance in the 2018 Parade, Pilgrim Man and Woman would encounter various difficulties. Shortly after arriving at Central Park South, the Pilgrim Man left the line of march as high winds caused the balloonhead to begin deflating. As a result, he would be removed from the line of march. Though Pilgrim Woman would travel down 6th Avenue without incident, she too was removed at 34th Street during Sugarland's performance. As a result of the accidents, the high winds in the 2019 Parade caused the Pilgrim Man and Woman to once again be grounded from the line of march.
The Pilgrim Man and Woman Balloonheads were initially scheduled to appear in the reimagined 2020 Parade. However, rising cases of COVID-19 in New York City throughout November 2020 caused the balloonheads, and several other Parade units, to be completely removed from the line of march.