Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"In 1927, Felix the Cat became the first official parade balloon. Macy's filled the rubber animal with helium but didn't have a plan for deflating it when the parade was done, so Felix was just released into the air. He popped, of course, so the next year officials released balloons again, but incorporated release valves designed to let the helium leak out slowly over the course of a week. The balloons' release received much publicity; Macy's claimed that they would float hundreds of miles away from New York before landing softly in fields or people's yards. Stitched into balloons was a return address, and those who found one could return it to Macy's for a $100 reward. Unfortunately their flights weren't so peaceful. Out of five balloons, three landed in Long Island (one was torn to pieces by neighbors competing for the prize), one drifted into the East River, and one floated out to sea never to return. Stubbornly, Macy's tried the balloon release again, but in 1932 an errant balloon wrapped itself around a passing airplane's wing, sending it into a tailspin."