Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: 7 Times the Iconic Show Went Wrong

7:00 AM 11/21/2017

by Kirsten Chuba

Throughout 90 years, the world's largest parade has had a few mishaps.

Santa Claus Macys Parade - H - 2016

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924, and in that time has become an American staple for the holiday season. The world's largest parade, it has been broadcast on NBC since 1952 and includes giant balloons, floats, musical performances and marching bands. 

The parade started with Macy's employees marching to the store's first location at Herald Square, dressed in costume and accompanied by floats, bands and live animals. This first parade also started the tradition of closing out the show with an appearance by Santa Claus, which continues to this day. It has run every year since 1924 except for 1942-44, when it was suspended due to the World War II need for helium and rubber. 

Throughout the 90 years of the parade, there were bound to be some problems, and from balloon malfunctions to lip sync screw-ups, that has definitely been the case. Check out the videos below of some of the show's most memorable mishaps. 

  • Superman Loses an Arm

    Superman was one of the first parade balloons to meet an unfortunate end in 1985. One of his arms got caught on a tree branch, ripping it off and causing him to go limp on one side. Luckily, no one but the Man of Steel was harmed. 

  • Rex the Dinosaur and Sonic the Hedgehog Crash Into NYC Lampposts

    The 1993 parade saw two balloons go down, both crashing into lampposts and immediately starting to deflate. Sonic collapsed on an off-duty police officer, causing minor injuries, and wouldn't return to the parade until 2011. 

  • Barney Faces Brutal Death

    The explosion of the Barney balloon in 1997 is definitely the most memorable of any Thanksgiving Day parade incident, and likely the most scarring to the purple dinosaur's young fans. This year's parade was held on a very windy day, with the balloon's handlers clearly struggling to hold onto it. Eventually the wind overpowered and the Barney violently ripped apart, with crews immediately coming in to deflate and remove him. 

  • Cat in the Hat Puts Woman Into a Coma

    Barney wasn't the only one taken down in the winds of the 1997 parade. Another beloved character, Cat in the Hat, struck a lamppost, knocking it down into the crowd below. The post fractured the skull of one woman, sending her into a coma for a month and forcing Macy's to implement new rules on how big balloons could be. 

  • Scotty McCreery Misses His Cue

    After winning season 10 of American Idol, McCreery appeared in the 2011 parade to sing his hit "The Trouble With Girls." While most performers lip sync during the parade, the country singer made it very obvious he was not singing live by missing his cue and starting to "sing" after the song had already begun. 

  • Spider-Man Wounded on Parade Route

    The most recent of any of these balloon incidents, Spider-Man ran into a tree in 2013, ripping open his arm. Luckily the superhero was able to continue his journey through New York City without too much trouble. 

  • American Authors Start Performing Mid-Song

    Set to sing their song "Best Day of My Life" in the 2014 parade, band American Authors seemed unaware of when they were supposed to start performing. The song begins to play while band members wave to the crowd and are clearly not singing. The camera cuts away and then returns to American Authors a few seconds later, where the lead singer starts "singing" several lines into the song.