Sinclair Oil Corporation is an American petroleum corporation, founded by Harry F. Sinclair on May 1, 1916, as the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation by combining the assets of 11 small petroleum companies. Originally a New York corporation, Sinclair Oil reincorporated in Wyoming in 1976. The corporation's logo features the silhouette of a large green dinosaur. It is ranked on the list of US largest privately owned corporations. It owns and operates refineries, gas stations, hotels, a ski resort, and a cattle ranch.
History with the Macy's Parade
The Sinclair Oil Corporation's involvement with the Parade dates back to the early 1960's, when the company's mascot, Dino, was introduced to the 1963 Parade, promoting the company's DinoLand attraction located at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Made of 350 square yards of neoprene-coated nylon, the balloon measured in as the same size as a real-life Apatosaurus, measuring 28 feet tall, 60 feet long, and 20 feet wide. The massive carcass was filled with 7,000 cubic feet of helium, and was covered with 60 gallons of green paint.
Upon completion, the Dino balloon was given a test flight at the Goodyear air dock in Akron, Ohio, alongside The Bordon Company's Elsie the Cow balloon, which also promoted an exhibit, at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Upon making its debut in the 1963 Parade, the Dino balloon was chosen to lead the procession.
Throughout the original balloon's lifespan in the Parade, it only encountered once major accident, which took place in 1964. A gust of wind caused the balloon to have its neck punctured by a lamp post. As a result, the balloon lost a substantial amount of helium and was forced to fly low to the ground. Despite the incident, the balloon managed to make it to the Parade's finish line without any further damages.
Originally slated to last only five years, with plans on retiring the balloon in the late 1960's, the balloon surpassed its life expectancy, and continued to make appearances in the Parade throughout the 1960's and 1970's. The balloon was eventually retired from the Parade after its march in 1976, with Parade officials fearing the balloon may cause problems if used any further. “He outlived all expectations,” Bernie Campbell, Macy’s balloon captain at the time, told the Daily News in 1977.
A year after the balloon's retirement, a retirement party was held in the balloon's honor at the American Museum of Natural History. The nearly 8,000 cubic feet of helium it normally took to make him fly was replaced with air, and Dino was displayed inside the Museum’s Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda for five days. Visitors were invited to see the balloon up close, and for a brief moment the rubber Apatosaurus was among the Museum’s major attractions. After this event, the balloon was deflated and shipped back to the Macy's Parade Studio in Hoboken, New Jersey. The existence of the balloon was last confirmed in February of 1989 through a balloon inventory chart.
Nearly four decades after the original Dino balloon was retired from the Parade, a brand-new balloon of Sinclair Oil's advertising Apatosaurus was announced to return to the Parade in August of 2015, with intentions of the balloon to promote the company's upcoming 100th anniversary the following year.
“The Macy’s Parade has always been rooted in history and tradition, and what better way to honor that legacy, as we gear up for our 90th anniversary, than to look back at our history and re-introduce a classic character and fan favorite to a new generation,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “After almost 40 years, we are very excited to welcome back Sinclair Oil’s Dino, and can’t wait to see him take flight once more above the streets of New York City on Thanksgiving Day.”
"We are delighted that our iconic Sinclair Dinosaur is returning to New York City and participating in the world-renowned Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With our upcoming centennial anniversary, we feel extremely fortunate to have such a timeless brand symbol that is loved by so many Americans of all ages,” said Ross Matthews, chairman and CEO of Sinclair Oil Corporation.
Like the balloon's predecessor, the modern rendition of Dino had the same measurements as a real-life Apatosaurus, measuring 36.7 feet tall, 72.5 feet long, and 23.9 feet wide. The balloon also requires 11,370 cubic feet of helium, which helps Dino reach fine-flying form.
To coincide with the balloon's debut, Sinclair would hold a special sweepstakes entitled the "Dino2NYC Sweepstakes", which included an all-inclusive trip for four to The 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The sweepstakes continue to be held yearly as of 2020.
In 2018, the Sinclair Oil Corporation would introduce a new unit to the Parade, in the form of a trio of balloonicles. The three balloonicles featured life-size baby Apatosauruses hatching out on a blue-speckled egg. The balloonicles are notable in that they utilize an electric wheelchair to maneuver down the Parade route, much like the Go Bowling set of balloonicles. Due to the small stature of the balloonicles, the operators are able to control the Baby Dino's from the inside, allowing them to shake their foot, nod their head, and wave their hand.
Both the balloonicles and Dino balloons are confirmed to return to the line of march for the 2020 Parade.
- The original Dino the Dinosaur balloon is one of two giant balloons in Parade history, alongside Popeye, to have a retirement party held in its honor.
- The two Dino balloons and Clifford the Big Red Dog are the only balloons to be 'life-sized' in the Parade's history.