Inflation, or “…it’s just the hand of a 45 foot clown”


Weegee, [Cop and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon hand, New York], 1945 (14753.1993)


Weegee, [Female cab driver with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, New York], 1945 (14751.1993)

Don’t be SCARED… LADY CAB DRIVER…
cruising down COLUMBUS AVE in the rain…
its just the hand of a 45 FT. CLOWN
being filled with HELLIUM GAS for the
annual MACYS DEPARTMENT STORE thanksgiving day parade…


Weegee (1899-1968), [Female cab driver with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, New York], 1945 (284)

This photograph was made at “Amsterdam Avenue, Looking South from West 107th Street.” Weegee Guide to New York, pp. 346-347


Weegee, [Bobo the Hobo filled with helium gas for annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York], 1945 (3077.1993)


Weegee, [Inflating Santa Claus for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York], ca. 1940 (3076.1993)

This photograph was made at “Manhattan Ave. and West 106th St.“, Weegee Guide to New York, pp. 346-347


PM, November 18, 1940, p. 17

Tony Sarg Polishes Off Some Parade Monsters
On Thursday, Macy’s 16th annual Thanksgiving parade will start the Christmas shopping season off with a bang. In his Fort Lee, N.J. studios, Tony Sarg adds finishing touches to his inflated paraders. A seven story Uncle Sam will be there – and so will Superman, Suitable mammoth. Photo by John DeBiase, PM Staff.

The biggest balloons are made in a hangar at Akron, Ohio. This is the start of Santa Claus’s head, which, with his giant friends, is deflated and shipped here to be filled with helium for the big parade. The parade will start down Central Park West from 106th Street at 11:30 a.m., then follow Broadway to Macy’s at 34th Street.

The parade will have 26 divisions, one for each letter of the alphabet. Above, Sarg’s sketches for balloons E, H and Z divisions. PM, November 18, 1940, p. 17

Tony Sarg (1880-1942), a puppeteer, artist, author, illustrator, designer, prankster, and restaurateur, created animated holiday window designs for Macy’s and created the first balloons used in the early Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades. The parade was suspended for a few years, 1942-44, during World War Two. In 1945 “Macy’s Mammoth, Merry Thanksgiving Parade” featured five new balloons, seventeen floats, seven bands, acrobats, tumblers, clowns, dancers, animals, and sideshows. The Bobo the Hobo clown balloon was introduced in 1945 and was apparently 44 feet high and 38 feet wide, inflated with 6,000 cubic feet of helium, and his clothes were colorful. In subsequent parades Bobo the Hobo transmogrified into a baseball player, policeman, and Harold the Fireman. By 1945, and after the publication of Naked City, Weegee had more-than-enough experience photographing prostrate and supine bodies, smaller and no-less-alive, or merely sleeping.

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