Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett talks about pop culture events linked to Thanksgiving that have special meaning to him.
As previously established, I’m a big fan of Thanksgiving. For a seasoned aficionado of inflatables such as myself, I must confess, initially I was utterly underwhelmed by the lineup of balloons set to debut for this, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’s 90th Anniversary year. For starters, two are just old balloons which have been given makeovers, Greg Heffley of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books has gotten a new wardrobe and instead of kicking a football, Good Ol’ Charlie Brown is now tangled up in kite string in the Peanuts one. Among the few that are actually new is the DreamWorks Trolls movie one which features not one, but a cluster of characters from it, none of whom I would be able to pick out of a police lineup. They consist of Go Poppy, Branch, Guy Diamond and Caterbus, who to me sound like a stripper, a hippie, a private detective and a knockoff of the Catbus from the movie My Neighbor Totoro, in that order.
Then there’s Trixie the Dog. I know I’m not as engaged in youth culture the way I used to be, but at least I know what Trolls are; I had Troll dolls when I was a kid. But I hadn’t a clue as to where Trixie was from; a children’s book, a PBS animated series, one of those internet meme things? It turns out Trixie is “modeled on parade executive producer Amy Kule’s six-year-old cairn terrier”, which raises the question, what the hell? Did Ms. Kule win some kind of contest, get a balloon in lieu of her 401k, or save the life of some Macy executive?
Being a big fan of Felix the Cat, they won me over with the final one, a very special Felix balloon. According to “Felix the Cat, Macy’s First Thanksgiving Day Parade Baloon, Returns After 90 Years” a piece by Dana Schulz which ran on the 6sqft website, the parade’s first animal-shaped balloon was Felix, introduced in 1927, the year that balloons replaced live animals from the Central Park Zoo in the parade. The new one is a facsimile of the original designed by marionette maker Anthony Frederick Sarq and made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and like the original, instead of ropes it will be propped up by polls. It also featured this tidbit; “The parade didn’t take place for three years during World War II, and many of the balloons, including Felix, were donated to the war effort for their rubber.” Which made me sadly think of the scene with the incinerator at the end of Toy Story 3.
One thing that will make the year's parade different is according to the headline of a piece by Brian Steinberg in Variety, “NBC, Verizon Will Live-Stream Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” It suggests the “YouTube stream might appeal to people on the go for the holiday who must rely on a mobile device to get a view of the annual parade. Or it might serve as a sort of ‘second-screen’ enhancer for viewers already at home watching the event through traditional means.” Which might be true but I tend to think it has a lot more to do with keeping the parades brand alive, and with millennials cutting their cable cords at a rapid rate (if they ever had had them, to begin with), the parade has to go where the young are.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.