Superman is a fictional superhero who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Since his debut in 1938, he has become a cultural icon of comic books, and the star of a media franchise. he character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, first appearing in the comic book Action Comics #1, which was published in spring 1938. Superman is said to be born and raised on the planet Krypton, and was later sent to the fictional town of Smallville, where he discovered his superhuman abilities such as incredible strength and impervious skin.

Superman has since become an icon of pop culture and is oftentimes referred to as the first superhero, appearing in over 900 comic books since his inception.

History with the Macy's Parade

Superman made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 1940 Parade through the form of a giant helium balloon. The colossal "Man of Steel" balloon was designed by former Parade Director Tony Sarg and constructed out of neoprene coated rubber at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's Akron, Ohio headquarters. The "super" measured 75 feet in height and 44 feet in width with 9,000 cubic feet of helium needed to help the superhero fly down the streets of Manhattan. A crew of 27 husky handlers helped guide the balloon down the street, all donning Superman-themed apparel.

The original Superman balloon was retired after making only one appearance in the 1940 Parade, and was refurbished into Hugo the Football Hero for the 1941 Parade.

Superman returned to the annual fall procession in 1966, appearing in the same form as his predecessor; standing to attention while showing off his buffed-up muscles. Likewise, the balloon was designed and constructed by Goodyear engineers at their plant in Rockmart, Georgia. The second Superman balloon was also of super proportions, with a height of 65 feet and a width of 33 feet and requiring 9,483 cubic feet of helium to lift the balloon's 480 pound husk off the ground.

After making his celebratory debut flight in Rockmart, Georgia, the second Superman balloon made his way to New York City to appear in the 1966 Parade. High winds whipped the balloon about along Central Park West, lifting several of his handlers into the air for brief stints. The balloon eventually veered into a tree branch and punctured his left arm. Despite the accident, the balloon continued to soar through the canons of skyscrapers without further incident.

The balloon would later make an air-inflated appearance at the annual 1966 Goodyear Christmas Party, just weeks after appearing in the Parade.

The second Superman balloon made his final appearance in the 1970 Parade. The balloon would sit dormant in the Macy's Parade Studio for many years after his retirement, having periodic quality control tests performed. The balloon was eventually cut up into several swatches, with many of them being framed and given to Macy's personnel. The head of the balloon was kept fully intact, and was most recently air-inflated at the former Macy's Parade Studio in the 2000s.

The third and most recent Superman balloon debuted in the 1980 Parade, and was the final balloon figure to be designed and crafted by Goodyear. Constructed out of more than 6,900 square feet of neoprene-coated rubber, the third Superman balloon was the longest balloon to be made post-war, measuring in at a whopping 104 feet long and 35 feet wide. The pumped-up superhero was filled with 12,000 cubic feet of helium in his 14 different chambers.

The balloon was constructed with a much more humanoid appearance in mind than the character's previous balloons, as to better reflect the trend of movies made on comic strip characters. The shape of the head proved especially challenging, as several internal tie-ins were used around the balloon's eye sockets to make it appear concave.

The Superman balloon became a Parade staple, appearing in the line of march annually throughout the 1980s. During preparations for the 1982 Parade, the balloon was discovered to be leaking helium from his head and foot. Both punctures were fixed, however the balloon would continue with a leaky wrist along the Parade route.

The Superman balloon faced its first major accident during preparations for the 1985 Parade. High winds and heavy rain caused many balloons to be flown low to the ground while being tossed about along the Parade route. Shortly after being raised into the air by his 48 handlers, the Superman balloon was pushed into a tree by a gust of wind, ripping his left leg open in the process. The balloon was sidelined from the event, and was left unmentioned on NBC's telecast of the Parade.

The colossal "Man of Steel" balloon made his grand return to the 1986 Parade - only to be faced with turbulent winds once again. While soaring high along Central Park West, the balloon leaned towards tree branches, and had his left hand snared. Despite the frantic efforts by handlers, the balloon's wrist was cut open, leaving the hand to hang freely. Tension from the handling lines eventually caused the hand to fall off the balloon completely, and was then carried by two Parade participants along the Parade route. In addition to a limp wrist, the balloon experienced a leaky stomach. The balloon was able to complete his march without any further damages, and was given extensive repairs following the Parade at the Macy's Parade Studio.

The balloon returned for the final time in the 1987 Parade. After this appearance, the Superman balloon was permanently retired from the line of march. The balloon's existence was last confirmed in February 1989 through a balloon data sheet.

Since the third Superman balloon's retirement, the Man of Steel has yet to be represented in the Parade again.

See also

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