Sonic the Hedgehog is the titular protagonist of the video game series of the same name released by Sega, as well as numerous spin-off comics, animations, and other media. Sonic is a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds and curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. In most games, Sonic must race through levels, collecting power-up rings and avoiding obstacles and enemies.
Programmer Yuji Naka and artist Naoto Ohshima are generally credited with creating Sonic. Most of the games are developed by Sonic Team. The original Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) was released to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's flagship character Mario. Sonic was redesigned by Yuji Uekawa for Sonic Adventure (1998), with a more mature look designed to appeal to older players.
Sonic is one of the world's best-known video game characters and a gaming icon. His series had sold more than 80 million copies by 2011. In 2005, Sonic was one of the first game character inductees into the Walk of Game alongside Mario and Link.
History with the Macy's Parade
Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the most popular and recognizable characters ever during the early 1990's, with many best-selling games under his belt and two cartoons running on television. As such, Sega of America would sponsor a balloon representing the titular character in the 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, to promote his upcoming video game Sonic the Hedgehog 3. His design shows him doing the spring jump pose like in his games and also the balloon was painted with two mouths, one on each side of his face. But nobody couldn't really notice it unless you were looking at it from the front. Sonic broke record as being the first-ever video game character in the Parade's history to become a giant balloon. Hopes were extremely high for the balloon's debut that year, and the Sonic was off to a great start as he started his flight on Parade day. However, the high winds that year would prove otherwise later on.
As the Sonic balloon passed through Columbus Circle, winds wrecked havoc. The balloon smashed head-first into a lamppost, which broke the light off its pole and fell directly into the crowd, giving a young child and police officer slight injuries. Sonic had to be quickly taken down and was removed from the Parade's line of march, ultimately failing to make his debut. Despite the mishap, the balloon was patched up sometime later and was deemed suitable to fly again in 1994. The balloon would be used the following year at Punxsutawney of Pennsylvania at a launch event for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Several months later, he got to soar through the skies again for the 1994 Parade, this time having a successful flight and making it to Herald Square.
The balloon would suffer yet another accident once again in 1995 when strong winds blew Sonic into a nearby tree mere moments after traveling a few blocks. This caused his face to be ripped open, deflating his head slowly. Sonic would struggle for a majority of the Parade until he had to be removed for a second time at Times Square. Fortunately, he was able to fly again in the 1996 Parade, surviving that year in the process. The balloon was ultimately retired after 1997, due to the many accidents he encountered over his usage, as well as Sonic going through a major design overhaul in 1998. The balloon would sit dormant at the Parade Studio for years, and it's unknown on what his condition is today.
As a Walk-Around Character
Despite Sonic having no major association with the Parade throughout the 2000s, he made a slight comeback in 2001 on the Toon Balloon-Abration float, celebrating the Parade's 75th anniversary, on which he appeared with Kermit the Frog, Garfield, Betty Boop, and other characters whose balloons in the Parade had been retired.
In 2011, after being absent for 13 years, Sonic returned to the Macy's Parade with a new balloon, in celebration of his 20th anniversary and to promote his new game, Sonic Generations. The updated balloon was based on the modern design of the character, introduced in 1998, which has longer limbs and quills, green eyes, and a slimmer body, and also has a different pose from the "classic" Sonic balloon. He was retired in 2013 for unknown reasons, and a new Sonic balloon has yet to be introduced to the Parade.
Sonic would, however, be referenced in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performance the following year. In the middle of the Parade, there was a performance to a video game medley, where at one part, everyone danced to the original Sonic theme music (this wasn't used in the Parade's broadcast during their performance).
- In 1993, Sonic lost a spike and punctured his left arm before crashing into a lamppost, sending it flying down to the ground below, injuring both a child and an off-duty police officer, he was removed from the parade as a result. After the balloon's removal, his handlers would go to help Woody Woodpecker.
- In 1995, Sonic collided with a tree limb at Central Park West, causing the balloon's face to rip. By the time he reached Times Square, The balloon lost a lot of helium, and because of this, he was removed from the Parade.
- In 1997, the balloon's head got ripped at Central Park West and the balloon was quickly deflated after this. Because of this, he was removed and he had to be retired. However, it's a very common misconception that the balloon was severely damaged due to the winds overnight and had to be removed, similar to that of the Flying Fish balloon. His handlers were supposed to help The Cat in the Hat balloon, but after that balloon was also removed, they would end up handling the Rugrats balloon.
- In 2013, Sonic's arm was snagged by a tree but was released shortly after, causing no damage.
- In 1996, Sonic's left sock was partially deflated.
- For some reason, during all of the second balloon's appearances, Sonic's eye ridge was a bit deflated.
- In 2011, Sonic's muzzle was somewhat deflated.
Below, you will find a list of the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast.
- Spinball Theme (Sonic the Hedgehog Boom CD variation; 1993-1997)
- Splash Hill Zone (Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Remix; 2011-2013)
- Before his appearance in 1996, he appeared at the Macy's Balloon-A-Thon in 1996, along with many classic balloons such as Woody Woodpecker, Garfield, Betty Boop, The Pink Panther, Woodstock, Bugs Bunny, Paddington Bear, Babar the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Barney, and more.
- The first Sonic the Hedgehog has been removed the most times of any Macy's Parade big balloon, a total of 3 times, meaning only 2 of his flights were successes.
- Footage of the 1993 incident was uncovered for easy access through archival footage of Eyewitness News ABC7NY in November 2019.
- Sonic is the first video game character to appear in the Parade.