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Macy's parade: Good ol' Snoopy, Tim Burton's B. wow the crowd

November 24, 2011 | 10:48 am

Tim Burton's B.

Snoopy, that stalwart of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, floated again at the 85th annual event, but he was joined by a stitched-up creation from Tim Burton and a monkey with a jet pack named Julius, by Paul Frank.

The balloon from filmmaker Burton, known for his creepy yet engaging animation, had been particularly anticipated.

New York's Gothamist website said those behind the parade had been seeking a contribution from Burton for years and finally nabbed him.  The backstory of his character, B., the site says, is that he was "created Frankenstein's-monster style, from the leftover balloons used in children's parties.... Forbidden from playing with other children because of his jagged teeth and crazy-quilt stitching, B. retreated to a basement lair," where he dreamed of flying someday.

PHOTOS: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Cryptic story, but the balloon -- red, white and blue -- floated jauntily Thursday against a bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine as the weather cooperated for the big event.

According to Macy's, 3.5 million people were expected to line the route, craning their necks to see the balloons, of which there were about 40.  In addition, stars were on hand, such as Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne, and the Muppets -- and there were 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders, not to mention that parade staple: marching bands.

"Those kids, they play good music and they really put on a good show," Wilfred Denk of Munich, Germany, told the Boston Globe, of the bands. He and wife Bethina had made the parade part of their honeymoon trip to New York.

Dipping back into Macy's parade history, the first balloon used in the parade is said to be Felix the Cat.  The first parade was in 1924, was organized by the department store's employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo, according to Macy's.  It wasn't until 1927 that character balloons filled with helium debuted. From then until 1933, the big balloons were untethered at the end of the parade and allowed to float away. Those who found and returned them received an unspecified reward.

And Snoopy holds pride of place as the parade character with the most balloons in Macy's parade history.

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-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featured Tim Burton's B., among other creations. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press

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