Wiggle Worm is a classic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade novelty balloon.
History with the Macy's Parade
Wiggle Worm made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in the 1993 Parade. The 50-foot long, fun-filled worm balloon brought out a child-like sense of ingenuity among the balloonatics at the Macy's Parade Studio. "We have balloons that are used as Christmas ornaments and we had some extra ones," explained Parade Director Jean McFaddin, "We strung them together and made a Wiggle Worm".
The balloon would continue to make appearances in the Parade over the next several years, also appearing at the first-ever Macy's Balloon-A-Thon at the Park Slope Armory in New York City in 1995. At this event, Wiggle Worm was joined by Parade contemporaries such as Pink Panther, Quik Bunny and Snoopy. The balloon would return to Balloon-A-Thon the following year.
The original Wiggle Worm was retired shortly after the 1996 Parade, however it would not be its final appearance.
Wiggle Worm would head south to Florida in December 2003 to appear in the second annual run of the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando Resort. The balloon joined other novelties and floats to herald in the holiday season in the Florida theme park, and was permanently retired after the Parade's final performance in January 2004.
Wiggle Worm would be given new life for the 2004 Parade, squirming down the Parade route as a brand-new novelty balloon. The balloon was much larger than the original, spanning a total of 70-feet long. Akin to its predecessor, it appeared at the 2004 edition of the Macy's Holiday Parade. It would be retired after its sophomore appearance in the 2005 Parade.
Upon its return to the 2010 Parade, the balloon experienced its first major accident. As its handlers attempted to spin the balloon along 6th Avenue, its head was punctured by a "One Way" sign, causing the balloon to leak helium as it continued down the Parade route. The balloon was eventually removed from Parade only a few blocks later; it was technically still okay to fly, however it was pulled for aesthetic purposes.
Wiggle Worm would return to the line of march for the 2012 Parade, with its head patched up from its previous flight. The second balloon was retired after this appearance, and hasn't made a public appearance since.
Wiggle Worm crawled out of retirement for the 2014 Parade, once again as a newly-constructed helium balloon. Measuring in at the same size as his predecessor (the length of a thousand real worms), the new Wiggle Worm balloon was the first project for a fresh-faced college graduate who started working for the Parade Studio earlier in the year.
The balloon, following its previous incarnations, migrated south for the winter to appear in the 2014 edition of the Macy's Holiday Parade. The balloon would make appearances through the 2016 holiday season, and was retired alongside everything else to make way for its rebranding to Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's, which debuted in November 2017.
The third Wiggle Worm balloon was also retired after the 2016 Parade, however only temporarily.
Wiggle Worm returned to the line of march for the 2019 Parade, making its first appearance in nearly three years. Though the appearance was not without accident, as it was a gusty Thanksgiving Day, which caused many balloons to be flown lower than usual. The balloon's overnight protective net added weight onto the balloon's antennae, and were noticeably deflated. Shortly after starting its march, winds gusting over 30mph caused the balloon's handlers to lose grip of the balloon. The front of the balloon was sent upward as the handlers scrambled to reel the catch back in. The balloon was able to remain under control, and it continued down the Parade route without further incident.