While most of the balloon incidents are at least a little humorous (the hubris of man, to create such beasts!), a small handful of accidents have ended with people being seriously injured. Some of those cases have led the parade’s organizers to change the rules regarding their most beloved — and problematic — parade participants. After all, a deflated Kermit here and there is just the way the parade floats, but there’s nothing festive about people getting hurt.
Even the more routine balloon deflation always carry a bit of dramatic zeal. Take the fall of the Mighty Mouse balloon in 1956. It was a tale as old as time: Balloon meets street sign, street sign wins, balloon crumples helplessly to the ground. This one’s just funny well, because, it’s Mighty Mouse! He’s supposed to fly! And be mighty! And yet, that day, he accomplished neither.
1957: Popeye hates you
Popeye the Sailor Man has always been known for his coarse manner. True to form, in 1957 the Popeye balloon had had all that he could stand, and couldn’t stands no more. As a chilly rain blanketed the city, it collected in the top of Popeye’s iconic sailor’s cap. One tight turn was all it took for it to tip and dump gallons of water on unsuspecting spectators. Ah-gahgahgahgahgah!
1991: Kermit the Frog is scarred for life
Life was hard for the first Kermit balloon. In 1985, the frog was eviscerated after crashing into some trees, but managed to survive the rest of the parade. The more crippling blow came in 1991, when it lost in another encounter with a tree, which left is head deflated in a decidedly un-festive way. The balloon was never the same, and was retired shortly afterward. A new, improved and tree-resistant version was debuted in 2002. It did some journeyman work for the parade, retiring after two years and then returning for a few years starting in 2007, but things were never the same. The poor frog’s balloon spirit had simply seen too much.
1997: The bad one
That’s why, if you ever hear chatter about the balloons being grounded due to high winds, you shouldn’t groan in disappointment. It could be much, much worse if they’re allowed to fly.