SpongeBob SquarePants is the title character and protagonist of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. SpongeBob is portrayed as a naïve and goofy sponge who works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, a fast food restaurant known for its signature burger, the Krabby Patty. He is characterized by his optimism and childlike attitude, and influenced by other comedic characters, including Stan Laurel and Pee-Wee Herman. He is voiced by actor and comedian Tom Kenny.
SpongeBob was created and designed by Stephen Hillenburg, an artist and marine science educator. The character's name is derived from "Bob the Sponge", the host of Hillenburg's book The Intertidal Zone. He originally drew the book while teaching marine biology to visitors of the Ocean Institute during the 1980s. He began developing a show based on the premise shortly after the cancellation in 1996 of Rocko's Modern Life, which he directed. The character's first appearance was in the pilot, "Help Wanted", which premiered on May 1, 1999.
SpongeBob SquarePants has garnered a positive response from media critics and achieved popularity with both children and adults and is frequently named as one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time. He has, however, been involved in controversy with some conservative social groups for allegedly promoting homosexuality, although Hillenburg has described the character as "asexual".
History with the Macy's Parade
SpongeBob was introduced to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as a balloon in 2004, to promote his first-ever feature film, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and has since become one of the longest-lasting character balloons. The SpongeBob balloon is also said to be the first-ever square-shaped balloon in the Parade's (at the time of his debut) 78-year-history, using 600 internal tie-in lines. After 2006, he was retired from the Parade, but only to return in 2008 after a brief leap of absence. The balloon quickly became a frequent flyer, making appearances until the 2012 Parade, and was retired shortly after due to the balloon extremely showing its age during its last couple appearances. Despite this, the balloon still survives at the Float Warehouse as of 2016.
A new SpongeBob balloon was introduced in the 2013 Parade. This time, he is based on his appearance as seen in the more recent SpongeBob episodes from Seasons 4 onwards, and sports a Santa Claus hat with a jingle bell attached to the back of it. The following year, in 2014, SpongeBob would become Macy's Holiday Ambassador, with a special plush being sold at select Macy's stores and a cold-air inflatable being perched upon a Macy's marquee. This balloon had a slightly shorter career than the original balloon, and was retired after the 2018 Parade with a total of six appearances. Due to its young age, it now resides at the Macy's Float Warehouse.
The following year, in 2019, SpongeBob's franchise was celebrating the "Best Year Ever", as part of its 20th-anniversary celebrations. As a means to promote the celebration, a brand-new SpongeBob balloon was paired up with his loyal pet sea snail, Gary, who is perched on his owner's back. Additionally, it is highly suspected that this balloon also paid homage to Stephen Hillenburg, as well to promote his new movie, Sponge on the Run, and his spin-off series, Kamp Koral, SpongeBob's Under Years. Of note, news articles have stated that this balloon was the biggest crowd-pleaser on its debut, and got the best reception. Because of this, he will possibly appear for many more years to come.
In addition to SpongeBob's reappearance as a balloon in 2017, the Broadway Musical of the same name starring Ethan Slater as SpongeBob also made a performance of its opening number, "Bikini Bottom Day", as one of the four Broadway Musical performances in the NBC telecast. A separate article for this Broadway Musical can be read here.
- 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2011 all had incidents where SpongeBob snagged onto a lamppost. All these times, however, he was freed.
- During all of the original balloon's appearances, but 2009 (kind of), his arms were bent. This was most likely caused by the weight of the hands compared to the skinny arms of the balloon.
- Due to the touch-and-go nature and overall old age of the balloon, throughout its final three appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2012, wrinkles became glaringly obvious throughout the balloon.
- In 2011, SpongeBob's left leg was partially deflated, possibly due to the balloon's age.
- In 2012, SpongeBob's right hand and shoe lost helium overnight, most likely due to the balloon being unable to hold helium because of its old age.
- In 2019, SpongeBob's right leg was slightly bent. The balloon itself, however, remained undamaged.
- With his 2019 balloon, SpongeBob is not only the youngest cartoon character to get a third balloon, but also the youngest-introduced character balloon to get more than two variants as well.
- His 2019 balloon is the heaviest balloon in the Parade, with the weight being 896 pounds.
Below, you will find the music tracks used during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast.
- "F.U.N." Song (Instrumental) (2004-2006, 2008-2013)
- SpongeBob SquarePants Theme (Marching Band Arrangement) (2014-Present)