What's the thing we identify most with a Macy's Parade? Balloons, duh. There were tons of 'em in 1984, and not a single one was based on an advertising character! That all changed during later parades, but you'll see that in another review. Here's the '84 balloons, with a bunch of video clips...
Hey, say what you will, Garfield's the first balloon I think of when I hear "Macy's Parade." He's not the first thing I think of, thanks to Bryant Gumbel's piss talk, but the cat's close. In the clip below, keep an ear out and you'll even hear Pat Sajak have an aneurysm trying to fill twenty seconds up with Garfield-inspired commentary.
There's two things notable about the Woody Woodpecker balloon. First off, his tail is positioned in such a way that, from certain camera angles, the balloon appears to have several penises. Secondly, did you ever wonder what kind of people had the tough task of lugging these monsters across Manhattan? You'll see what kind of people in the clip below.
They're not people, folks. They're Woody Woodpeckers. Hundreds of them.
I don't have a clip of Kermit's balloon to show you. You wouldn't believe what you're missing!
NBC had a lot of time to fill with this parade, and admittedly, there were some lulls in the action. From the point where we meet Pat Sajak to the point where Santa Claus comes to town, there's a lot of shit happening, but it's not happening constantly. To make sure there's no dead air or completely boring five-minute intervals, they prepared several videos of the parade's formation -- the balloons being blown up, the balloons being tested, things like that. The Raggedy Ann clip down below features one such video; a sped-up test run for one of 1984's debuting balloons. I never got into Raggedy Ann or her stupid half-knit brother, but maybe you did. Or maybe you didn't. Or maybe you did and don't know it. Think about that.
Man, Underdog didn't get any sort of commentary from the hosts when he appeared. You'll see what I mean in the clip -- they just completely clammed up...not a peep. Sorta made the poor dog seem unimportant. It's even more emphasized when the cameraman does all sorts of really weird mega-zooms, as if he's trying to figure out who the balloon is supposed to represent. Poor, poor Underdog. The name fits.
Now that I've seen most of the parades again, I can honestly say that the Superman balloon is cursed. 1984 was one of the few times that he wasn't either half-deflated or half-about to kill the crowd, so if you want to see the Man of Steel at his best, this is the clip for you. Touted as being the longest of all the balloons, witnessing Superman 10,000 times larger than normal and flying over NYC is a sight to behold. If you don't believe me, Bryant Gumbel will tell you so in the clip, over and over again.
Nope, Popeye didn't have a balloon in 1984 -- just his galpal. I know, I know -- she's not the greatest balloon, but the clip is worth watching anyway. It's kind of cut off, but you'll hear everything from Bryant Gumble cursing the script to a child narrating the action using a dialect understood only by those who've purchased Star Trek: Ferengi translation books.
As the hosts mention, the Donald Duck balloon had been previously retired, only to be brought back for his big 50th birthday bash. Some of you might remember a Disney TV special that celebrated the same occasion in ways so strange that I refuse to ever speak of them. The whole "retirement" bit makes sense, too -- Donald's balloon certainly looks older than the rest of the pack. As we'll see later in the review, this wasn't the only tribute to everyone's favorite duck. Well, except for Daffy. And Howard. And Jon Cryer. And the one from "Friends."
Still, being the world's fifth favorite duck ain't nothing to cry about. Especially on your 50th birthday.
There's another pic of Garfield's balloon. I just felt like it, okay?
The parades are childlike at heart, and there's been parades more targetted towards boys than girls, or vice versa. I think we had a little more girl power than guy power this time around, and it's never been more evident than with what you'll see on page three...