Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Wiki
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Wiki

Spider-Man is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko and first appeared in the Amazing Fantasy comic book anthology in 1962. He is characterized by his super strength and agility; and his ability to cling to most surfaces, shoot spider-webs using his own wrist-mounted devices, and react to danger quickly.

Spider-Man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes and has become Marvel's flagship character and mascot. He has appeared in various TV series, a newspaper comic strip, and a live-action film series.

History with the Macy's Parade

Spider-Man made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in the 1987 Parade, crawling down the streets of New York City as a pumped-up helium hero. The Spider-Man balloon was a technical feat, created with human lifelike muscle tone never achieved in a helium balloon medium. Chief designer at the time, Manfred Bass, referred to the balloon as "a true living, flying piece of sculpture," and is said to be one of his proudest achievements. [1]

The creation of the original Spider-Man balloon was puzzling, as a result of the humanoid form. The former editor-in-chief of Marvel, Jim Shooter, was brought in to assist with the balloon's clay model as he had experience with “3-D things, toys and such". [2]Upon arriving at Macy's Parade Studio, the clay model had, as Shooter stated "proportions of a chubby baby".[2] The sculpture was entirely reconfigured, and a design plan was eventually settled.

The Spider-Man balloon would feature the iconic superhero flying over Parade participants in a "crawling" position, with a 100-foot web extending from his left hand, characterizing the balloon further while also doubling as handling lines. Constructed at the Raven Aerostar headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it took several dozen yards of urethane-coated nylon fabric to create the Spider-Man balloon. It was painted with gallons of paint, and upon completion was 78 feet long, 36 feet wide, weighted 345 pounds deflated, and required 9,520 cubic feet of helium to help the balloon reach fine-flying form.

Upon making its debut on Thanksgiving Day 1987, the Spider-Man balloon was met with appraisal from children and adults alike, signifying Spidey as a fan-favorite balloon. This balloon also utilized a special "Spidey-Cam", which presented viewers of the NBC telecast a bird's eye view of the procession. This feature was used from 1988 through 1992 (though unseen in the latter year).

Joining the balloon was another Marvel-sponsored Parade element, the Marvel Universe float. The stage-on-wheels depicted a supercity inhabited by heroes and evildoers of the Marvel Comic universe alike. Costumed characters of the Marvel Comics characters provided action-filled entertainment on the float, among them Spider-Man, who slung his way between the towering skyscrapers.

The Spider-Man balloon became a Parade staple over the following decade, being named the "Official Superhero of Macy's Parade" in 1988. The balloon also made several appearances outside of the Parade, such as the 1989 Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade, a special Macy's-sponsored Parade at the Mall of America's grand opening and the 1995 and 1996 editions of Macy's Balloon-A-Thon.

In 1993, the Spider-Man balloon would experience its first major incident. Blustery winds along Central Park West made the balloon collide with tree branches, tearing open a hole in the balloon's head. Helium leaked from the wound, however the balloon was able to finish its march.

In 1997, the Spider-Man balloon was flown low as a result of gusty winds, with sources citing Spider-Man appeared as though he was "crushing his handlers". Despite several abrasions along the Parade route including deflated hands, the balloon was able to make it to 34th Street.

High winds and heavy rain affected the 1998 Parade, which weighed down the balloons. Following a major incident the previous year involving the Cat in the Hat balloon, two utility vehicles were attached to the giant balloons in order to maintain stability. Due to the weight of these vehicles, which were anchored to the Spider-Man balloon's stomach, the balloon was torn open. Unable to be repaired in time, the balloon was removed from the lineup.

The original Spider-Man balloon was retired following the 1998 procession, making a total of twelve appearances. The balloon was repaired at Macy's Parade Studio and was kept dormant for over a decade; by 2009, the balloon's fabric had begun to fall apart.[3]

The balloon was eventually disposed of.

Spider-Man would be reintroduced to the Parade over a decade later in the 2009 Parade, debuting as an all-new giant helium balloon. The balloon incarnation of Marvel's legendary crime-fighting web-slinger deferred from the design of its predecessor, now featuring Spidey’s classic web-slinging pose coupled with a more modern look. Patrolling the Parade route and protecting the citizens of New York City. the second Spider-Man balloon was of giant proportions, measuring 78-feet long, 37.8-feet wide and 29.1-feet tall.

Former Parade Director Robin Hall commented on the balloon's inaugural appearance, saying “Spider-Man’s return to the Macy’s Balloon line-up this year is an event of seismic magnitude," adding, “When is Spider-Man coming back? is a question that has been shouted from the sidelines each and every year we inflate our helium giants on Thanksgiving eve. This new, updated balloon, featuring a modern, more defined Spider-Man, will fill a huge void for Parade devotees and will undoubtedly seize the imaginations of a whole new generation of fans.”[4]

Akin to its predecessor, the second Spider-Man balloon became an instant classic and lead the Parade's elite fleet of giant character balloons in 2009.

In 2011, the Broadway-bound production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, performed a musical number as a pre-Parade act. The show's ensemble of actors performed an array of songs, written by Bono and The Edge, including "Bouncing Off the Walls", and "A Freak Like Me Needs Company". That same year, a costumed version of Spider-Man accompanied the balloon en route to 34th Street.

The Spider-Man balloon encountered a mishap in the 2013 Parade. Shortly after leaving the balloon staging area at 81st Street, the balloon was blown into a tree branch. The impact caused the balloon's left arm to be punctured, though was able to remain buoyant in spite of his clipped wing.[5]

The Spider-Man balloon was repaired by the talented team of balloonatics at Macy's Parade Studio shortly after, and was able to return to the line of march for the 2014 Parade. Following this appearance, the second Spider-Man balloon was retired permanently. Since this appearance, Spider-Man, or any other Marvel property, have yet to be represented in the Parade again.

See also