Plastic Spectacle in NYC II

I’ve been looking in more detail at the event and dissecting the elements of its lifespan. What I’ve recently found out is the two major setbacks of the parade; in 1929 the stock market crashed and New York was in an economic crisis that halted many businesses. Many people went jobless and with the parade, people did not know whether it was still being held or not. Surprisingly Macy’s announced that the parade will still be taking place on Thanksgiving Day. To many people this seemed strange as the country was in a very bad financial state. The parade took place as planned and was even bigger than the previous years with 10 balloons being released instead of 5 from the previous year. Macy’s even increased the prize money for the balloons from $100 to $500. This could be part of the flipside to the parade, the political innuendo behind the event and the company’s role within Manhattan.

The second major setback was during World War II. Macy’s announced that they will be donating all the balloon components and scrap rubber parts from floats and other parade elements to the government due to the shortage of rubber and steel in the war. The parade was held off for 3 years (1942-1944).


I am working on the main timeline drawing and adding these into it, alongside the other drawings I am finishing up as well. Here is a snapshot of the progress:

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I’ve found this video on the making process of the balloons and will be documenting this (maybe in a set of drawings) for the portfolio ( ). It is really interesting and is pretty similar to how I’ve been making models before this.

As for contacting the Macy’s Parade Studio in New Jersey, I am still finding the proper contact to email or call them (there is none online, only the address for the warehouse). If I can’t find any I might make a visit nonetheless to the studio, apparently many people did before, as seen on their Facebook page ( ). I’m looking into other avenues to explore the context of my project; looking at exploring Tony Sarg (first designer of the gigantic balloons), seeing how I can look into his working methods in more detail.

One thought on “Plastic Spectacle in NYC II

  1. That youtube video is gold – the explanation of how the balloons are made would make a terrific drawing for your exploration study! And you could start making mini balloons, falloons and balloonicles of your own! Your other discoveries are also fascinating – it would be good to show in a drawing the excess f the parade during the Wall Street Crash – Macy’s stock goes up as New York’s plummets, and then the donation of materials to the war effort in WWII is interesting to think about the embedded data within those materials that could have been balloons but ended up being tools for warfare – could be an interesting material lifecycle drawing?
    Your youtube link led me to this on about the inflation of some of the balloons and its interesting to see them lying under nets and slowly growing:
    Also in terms of who to contact there’s this interview with the creative director of the Macy’s parade – while some of his answers are cheesy, it would be worth trying to contact him or his office? He does talk about the logistics of planning the event etc, which might help:
    In addition to the spectacle of the parade, there’s also the additional layer of the physical architecture it passes en route – something more about the embedded data of the route could be revealed:
    And finally, to go beyond Tschumi and look at what inspired him to make the Manhattan Transcripts this is one of Moholy-Nagy’s sketches for a film – the stage directions, use of repetition, text and layout are quite dynamic so might be helpful for your project:
    Can’t wait to see how this develops on Tuesday. Don’t forget to format your exploration study as well and make more of the balloon process and how this relates to your earlier object tests. Great work!

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