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The (Illustrated) True Story of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

* The story of puppeteer Tony Sarg, known as “America’s Puppet Master”
* Commissioned by Macy’s to create balloons for their Thanksgiving Day Parade
* Annual parade celebrates 91st anniversary this year

There’s no better tradition of on Thanksgiving Day that getting up early to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now in its 91st year, the parade takes over Fifth Avenue in New York City, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the sidewalks to watch the bands, singers and of course, those giant helium balloons march down the street.

This year, get to know the inspiring true story behind the parade, more specifically, the story of the man who brought those big balloons to life.

“Balloons Over Broadway” is the true story of puppeteer Tony Sarg. In 1928, he was commissioned by Macy’s to create a series of helium filled, rubberized silk animal balloons for their Thanksgiving Day Parade. Rather than controlling the balloons from the top, like a puppet on a string, Sarg was tasked with creating creatures that would hang “upside-down,” floating above the strings and into the sky.

In brilliant collage illustrations, artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of Sarg, capturing his genius, his inventiveness and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that have become the trademark of the annual Macy’s Parade.

A winner of the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, “Balloons Over Broadway” includes sidebars of diagrams, archival photographs, and newspaper clippings, in addition to beautifully-rendered illustrations of the parade and all its colorful participants.


Looking for a grown-up book about the parade? We suggest picking up a copy of this book of images, compiled by Robert M. Grippo, a frequent participant in the parade, with the help of Christopher Hoskins, a professional photographer, the New York Daily News, and the Goodyear Tire Company (famous for its Goodyear Blimp images).

Through rare and historic images, “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” offers readers a chance to reminisce, explore, and delight in almost a century of fun as seen this thoroughly American celebration. This is a great, nostalgic book that makes a terrific family read over the holidays, both before and after the parade is over.

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