SBA Interior Designer Serves as Balloon Handler for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
On Thanksgiving Day 2014, SBA Interior Designer Mary Witt and friend Brendan Ross were not simply watching the parade on television—they were guiding the Adventure Time Balloon through the three mile parade route!
Their day started at 5:30 a.m. when balloon handlers gathered in the Hammerstein Ballroom dressing area to receive coveralls and pinnys. After getting dressed, an entertainer’s bus took people to 81st street to meet up with their balloon handling teams and to do warm-up exercises.
As a balloon handler, your job is to hold onto the “bone,” the device which helps steer the balloon. Then you follow the direction of the flight management team. A giant balloon typically takes about 90 people to fly down the parade route.
Once the denetting crew comes and takes the net off the balloon, it begins to fly. “I could feel the weight of the balloon pulling up on the bone. It’s a little work, but manageable,” explained Mary. “We were the balloon right behind Kiss!”
Of course, when you guide a balloon through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you get a lot of attention. “Walking past all of the viewers was overwhelming at first but then very fun. Everyone is cheering, chanting, screaming and the amount of people there was absolutely mind blowing!”
The parade has more than 3 million in-person viewers. “The sidewalks were full; the windows of the buildings were full! It was crazy,” said Mary. “It was so much fun!” Once the balloon was announced, the balloon handlers turn down a side street and deflate the balloon.