I'm sorry, but I couldn't include Rainbow Brite's entire appearance in the video clip. You're only getting a sampling, because her ridiculous song lasted for roughly seven hundred minutes, and to the best of my math, only had three lines repeated over and over again. I have nothing against Rainbow Brite and all that she's done for the community, but without fail, every time there's a costumed version of the character, it's scary as Hell and absolutely makes me want to find the rare and elusive duckbilled platypus just so I have something interesting to gouge my eyes out with.
Though the clip is only twenty-second long, you should be able to notice the pathetic attempt to make Rainbow Brite hip. Techno beats and rockin' swingin' arm movements. Brite is seconded by two idiots wearing spray-painted tin foil, who seem to serve no purpose other than making sure the stilt-wearing beanpole stuck inside that monstrously huge costume doesn't fall down and die.
Oh look, it's the Monopoly Train! I'm pretty sure this was the train's only appearance in a Macy's Parade, probably because, at heart, it just wasn't all that interesting. The only thing remotely "Monopolyly" about it is the game's logo stamped across the train. I guess you could argue that Uncle Moneybags' appearance gave it more of an official feel, but if Sajak didn't tell me that he was Uncle Moneybags, I never would've guessed.
Also of note: while the train was passing, a live band played on top of it, with some famous clarinet player -- so famous that I can't remember any part of his name. Apparently, even the live music isn't really live at these things -- the clarinet player doesn't just miss his cue to play along, he actually puts the instrument down and opts on waving to the cameras instead. I haven't included a clip of this one, because I might've been lying about that clarinet incident and I don't want anyone calling me on it.
Popeye had the honor of leading Olive Oyl's balloon through the streets -- it's a pretty good costume, to be honest. Looks like Popeye. Looks like Popeye riding a giant lobster. Wha?
I guess, after pulling all of those pranks on Stepfanie, one of the producers got addicted to trouble and couldn't resist erasing "spinach" and putting "rides lobsters" in on the character trait sheets. Popeye didn't look too upset about the mix-up, probably because he was more concerned with having been inappropriately fit into a pair of Levi bell bottoms.
And there's the Olive Oyl balloon -- a completely different one than we saw in 1984. This time, she's carrying "Sweet Pea," that grotesque demonspawn. I totally forgot about that thing. I'm assuming it was Olive and Popeye's kid, but maybe they pulled one of those cliche cartoon adoption deals, where the babies get dropped off by way of stork or some other such nonsense? I really hope not. I always attributed Popeye's massive forearms to vicious fucking rather than spinach. It helps me not feel so bad when I pick that shit out of wonton soup and hide it in napkins.
Once again, there were plenty of floats patterned after the hottest kiddy trends. Some were obvious choices, others were there for a very specific promotional mission. In "Alvin & The Chipmunks" case, they needed to get the word out about that damned "The Chipmunk Adventure" movie -- the only cartoon in history to show an honest to goodness box of Honey Nut Cheerios. It could've been argued that a lot of ticket sales were riding on how well received this parade float was, so they really cranked up the volume. We get an incredibly obnoxious song, with all three Chipmunks doing Egyptian dances before Alvin hops in a hot air balloon and starts doing something that might be "waving" but looks more like an attempt to put an unseen fire out.
Still, they looked cute. Theodore was appropriately fat, Simon was appropriately four-eyed, and Alvin was appropriately fitted with furry gloves on the wrong hands. Shit. All would've been perfect, but you're forgetting the ill-fated chosen selling point of "The Chipmunk Adventure" -- an equal sharing of screen time between the beloved Chipmunks and the less desirable "Chipettes."
See, the deal with the Chipettes was simple. They were the female versions of each Chipmunk, arriving during a time when most of the franchise's stock was firmly placed in the old cartoon show. The dolls and music albums and shit were way secondary -- the cartoon came first, and to keep the show fresh, the Chipettes' womanly touch sought to breathe in new life and perhaps seek out some new female viewers. Additionally, the Chipettes looked more humanoid than their male counterparts, mostly because outright animal schemes would've looked a little creepier on Chipmunks with breasts. It worked on the show and in the movie, but definitely not here.
Instead of looking like purdy Chipmunk gals, the Chipettes appear to be regular ugly girls with marbleized skin, trying to hold all of their bile within their cheeks so as not to ruin this special Macy's moment. The cameramen quickly realize the girls to be too beastly for morning television, and will willingly show close-ups of Simon's elbow just to make sure America isn't forced into manic fits because a whole new world of ugly just walked into their holiday.
Also from 1986, here's Barbie...and the Rockers! Barbie...and the Rockers! I never understood the dramatic pause, but they always said it like that, so I guess I...should too. Barbie appeared at several parades, and though the outfits and song numbers changed through the years, she was always played by a generic blondie flanked by a couple of other girls who seem to have been hired sheerly on the basis of being uglier than her. The trio of terror's float/stage looks like a giant alarm clock. Just thought you should know.
Anyway, the girls sing a song, and that's fine, but I was way more interested in the troop of blue freaks who climbed out from underneath the float...
It's the Smurfs! For no reason, by God, it's the Smurfs! You know what the real pisser is? Barbie's float was the only attraction in either the '85 or '86 parade that looked to be going off without a hitch. No problems whatsoever -- the girls knew how to lip-sync realistically, the outfits were fun, and the song was actually kind of catchy. They were so close to being the first act in Macy's Parade history without any sort of glaring error or other source of embarrassment, but it was all ruined when the Smurfs appeared just as the producers stuck the "Barbie and the Rockers" nametag up on the bottom of the screen. Somebody lost money on that one, I know it.
The Smurfs are the last vestige of that insane Scooby Doo float from '84. Scooby's gone, as is Fred Flintstone, and even the Snorks have disappeared. The Smurfs themselves only get a two-second token appearance. Blue on the outside, and now, blue on the inside. Those poor Smurfs. All they got to do was run around Barbie's float for five seconds as if someone accidentally left a cage door open. Once they were rounded up, we never saw or heard from them again. Have you ever seen Papa Smurf cry? Not pretty. Looks like an Astro-Pop left out in the sun. It's something we should actively avoid.
Rue McClanahan got to play some kind of princess chick -- this was right at the beginning of her "Golden Girls" years. The newly christened "Blanche" is barely recognizable in the wig, but I'd know that chin anywhere. In tribute to the sexpot character she played on television, Rue's song was adequately trampy and, as far as I can tell, primarily about getting fucked up the ass with pool sticks. As Rue sings about "finding her prince," she starts looking around the crowd for him. At the song's climax, we meet the prince -- it's Richard Moll! "Bull" from "Night Court!" Hey, I loved 100% of the people onscreen at this point, so I was happy. Rue, on the other hand...
Bull moves in for a quick kiss, which is brutally refused by Rue -- but in such an ill-defined way that it couldn't have been part of the act. Seems like Bull was going into business for himself there, and Rue McBlanchaBlanche wasn't having it. I don't know, I could be wrong. It's always tough to predict what a person is going to do when Richard Moll lunges at them, tongue-first. I can't really say what I'd do. I haven't been in that position. Yet.
This skit was from '85, and for the record, neither Rue nor Richard was invited back for the '86 parade. One must wonder what those two did at the afterparty to get themselves blacklisted. Actually, scratch "wonder." Make that "draw an interpretation of." Send 'em in, folks. Make sure they're doing something splooshy.
"Robot Man" had a float, with some help from the musical greats collectively known as "New Edition." I don't know enough about either entity to make any jokes without someone e-mailing in to tell me how wrong I am. So I won't. Here's the video.