From historical to horrific to humorous, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is iconic
#3: High winds cause havoc, balloon-stabbings, 1997
Like the Sonic balloon mishap from four years earlier, strong winds sent the Cat in the Hat balloon careening into a lamppost. But this time the aftermath was much worse.
Falling debris struck Kathleen Caronna, a 33-year-old new mom, in the head, fracturing her skull and putting her in a coma for nearly a month. New York City Police brutally stabbed and stomped down Barney the Dinosaur and the Pink Panther to prevent any further incidents that year, and the tragedy led to new size regulations on parade balloons.
Caronna sued Macy's and the City of New York for $395 million and reached an undisclosed settlement in 2001. Her bizarre bad-luck streak continued, however, when a Yankee relief pitcher crashed his plane into her high-rise Manhattan apartment. Fortunately, Caronna and her family were not home at the time.
#2: Helium shortage causes panic, 2006
A worldwide helium shortage threatened to make the 80th Thanksgiving parade a re-run of 1971, causing panic among holiday enthusiasts. In the end, rising prices and global demand posed a major obstacle for smaller balloon operators, but wasn't enough to derail Macy's, which apparently has stockpiles of the stuff. While fewer balloons flew that year, the tradition remained intact.