Uncle Sam (initials U.S.) is a common national personification of the American government or the United States in general that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson. The actual origin is obscure. Since the early 19th century, Uncle Sam has been a popular symbol of the US government in American culture and a manifestation of patriotic emotion. While the figure of Uncle Sam represents specifically the government, the goddess Columbia represents the United States as a nation.
History with the Macy's Parade
Uncle Sam (1938)
His first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1938, in the form of a 75-foot balloon, the tallest in parade history at the time in the late 1930s. The original Uncle Sam balloon retired in 1940, and like many other balloons from that era, he was most likely donated to the U.S. Military as part of the 650 pounds of rubber donated for war efforts.
Uncle Sam (Recreation) 2002
After more than 60 years of absence, a new Uncle Sam balloon was created in 2002, this time in the form of a novelty balloon. This balloon made on and off appearances until 2013 when it was retired along with many other items from the American portion of the parade.
In addition to appearing in the main parade, this version of Uncle Sam has also made subsequent appearances in the Macy's Holiday Parade.
- During a performance of Macy's Holiday Parade in 2007, the Uncle Sam balloon was shoved into a tree by a gust of wind. The impact caused the left side of his hat to be ripped and deflated. As a result, the balloon was quickly removed from the line of march.
- In 2012, a chamber inside Uncle Sam busted along the route, causing his arms to deflate. The balloon struggled to stay afloat, and ended up being removed from the Parade at 42nd Street due to aesthetic reasons.