Maxwell Jessop – Hello, class. It‘s me, that “How To” guy, Max Jessop! I’m subbing for Ryan who is taking off for Thanksgiving break… Oh, yeah.Only the teachers get Thanksgiving break this year. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. But I do give you the lesson. And I’m going let you off easy this week because we are learning about the history of the Muppets at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
The Muppets and Sesame Street cast have been well-versed in parades the likes of the “Stars and Motor Cars” parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in the Walt Disney World Resort and, obviously, Sesame Place theme park’s entire line-up of parades. However, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the most-watched parade, broadcast all across the world, has been filled with appearances by Jim Henson’s creations.
The first ever appearance of Muppets in the Thanksgiving Day Parade came in 1974 when Sesame Street debuted a float based on 123 Sesame Street and Hooper’s Store. Big Bird perched on the roof and the human cast members stood at the front of the float as they all rode through the town. Much like the current float you might see in this year’s parade, Cookie Monster and other characters could be seen sticking their heads out of glassless windows. This float lasted five consecutive years, through 1978.
The 1977 parade was significant because Kermit the Frog was immortalized in balloon form. The amphibian was 63 feet tall and 24 feet wide and took about four hours and 5,220 cubic feet of helium to reach its full size that adorned two and a half miles of New York streets. This balloon appeared with a long run and, despite suffering a rip in the stomach in the 1985 parade, lasted until 1991.
The parade featured its biggest and most historical Muppet appearance in 1979, to promote The Muppet Movie, as the Muppets rolled onto the streets in the Electric Mayhem bus. That is, following closely behind Miss Piggy’s custom Rolls Royce. The float was psychedelic as always. The Mayhem bus transported most of the main Muppeteers, while the Sesame Street float had to enlist new replacement performers for the parade.
After the 70s, the Muppets discontinued their Electric Mayhem float, leaving room for more Muppet content. However much did not come to fruition, with the exception of a revamped Sesame Street float and a gargantuan Fraggle Rock float that appeared two years in a row. Thanks to YouTube we have a little video footage of that last one. By the 90s we were left with but a Big Bird balloon and the Sesame Street float.
Thankfully, It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie debuted on NBC in 2002. The 2000s brought Muppet presence back with a new and improved Kermit balloon as well as a Super Grover balloon that fittingly flew through the sky. Just a few years back, in 2008, we were treated to the real Kermit singing “I Believe” on the Central Park float near the end of the parade and an Abby Cadabby balloon to further introduce the character to viewers. Overall, the presence of Muppets in the parades is truly huge and who knows what the parade will bring this year or in the future.
Whew! Okay! I’m done. I can’t believe I wrote all that! Well, I told you I’d let you off easy. Like always, there will be no test, exam, quiz, or query on this lesson, but you will be expected to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year for another look at that spectacular Sesame Street float I keep mentioning. Have a great week, Ryan will pick back up… uh… whenever he feels like it, I guess?
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com