Macy’s 2012 Thanksgiving Parade – Po from Kung Fu Panda

For years I have wanted to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons inflation but never made it.

This year I decided to be a dictator and announced earlier in the year that we, the whole family, were having Thanksgiving in New York City and we are attending the inflating of the balloons. Giving family members sufficient time to schedule vacation days and secure airline tickets.

Arrived at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue at around 3:30 p.m on Wednesday, 11/21. A crowd had already assembled but it was not too bad, still could move about easily. An hour later it was a different story, could hardly move about.

When we arrived I was surprised to see most of balloons have been inflated except for Julius the Monkey and Kung Fu Panda. We were able to secure a spot to see the unrolling of Kung Fu Panda. Fascinating. It was very well orchestrated and every little detail was attended to. Amazing to see how smoothly the whole process was executed.

Kung Fu Panda was one of the 16 giant character balloons in this year’s parade

This is how Kung Fu Panda arrived on 77th Street.
He is in the crate (folded, rolled up and wrapped in blue tarp) waiting patiently to join the other giant character balloons.

Kung Fu Panda is released from the crate unwrapped and unrolled

Unfolding Kung Fu Panda – face down and head pointing towards Central Park

Undoing handling lines (black and white “H” by the worker’s feet) and unrolling them away from the balloon

Netting the flat balloon

The netted and inflated Kung Fu Panda will be weighed down with sandbags to prevent it from escaping during the night

It takes 90 minutes to inflate one of the giant balloons so we decided to view the other balloons then go back to take photos of the inflated panda.

Unfortunately it soon got very crowded and was impossible to return to the site of Kung Fu Panda (we would be going against traffic).

No photo of the face down, netted, sandbagged and anchored inflated panda. But below are photos of the fully inflated Kung Fu Panda at the parade.

“Look out, here I come!” shouted Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda delivering his signature martial art moves at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 57th Street

….. and away he goes

At the end of the parade, Kung Fu Panda will be deflated; carted back to Macy’s Parade Studio in New Jersey; repaired, cleaned, folded, rolled, wrapped and returned to his crate. He will hibernate at Macy’s balloons storage facility in NJ until next year’s parade.

Facts about Kung Fu Panda
His name is Po
He is 42-feet tall, 46-feet long, and 34-feet wide
Made with more than ½ mile of fabric
Covered with 17 gallons of paint
Requires 16,000 cubic feet of helium to fully inflate


It was a lovely and memorable family get together. The weather was just perfect (sunny, calm and slightly above normal) during our 3-day stay in NYC.

I would do this back stage event again as a day trip (do-able on Metro North train from Poughkeepsie) and get to the site early to observe the very beginning. Imagine what an awesome sight and experience it would be to see the flat balloons, one by one, slowly transforming into various characters.

The biggest block party and a magical event indeed!!!!!

All the photos above were taken by my daughter, Kathy. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing.

To be continued tomorrow

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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40 Responses to Macy’s 2012 Thanksgiving Parade – Po from Kung Fu Panda

  1. Pat says:

    Wow! Thank you Norma and Kathy for the pictures. I went to the Thanksgiving parade in 1993 when my youngest was a year old. I remember having a wonderful time and would love to see the balloons inflated. You have put an idea in my head for next year. I am glad you had a great day. Looking forward to working with you at Sunset sensations!

  2. Great photos! It was a good day as it was not windy or terribly cold.

  3. Beautifully captured Norma.
    🙂 Mandy

  4. Looks like a real fun day, Norma. Ciao Carina

  5. Patsy says:

    I’m glad you had such a good time! The weather was perfect too! You know, my son has lived in NYC for about 15 years and he has never bothered to go see that parade! I think it would be such fun!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Patsy,
      Do you visit your son in NYC? If you do visit during Thanksgiving be sure to see the balloons inflation. I have seen the parade from a window overlooking the parade route, and if I had to choose, I would choose the balloons inflation and watch the parade on TV.

  6. Norma, you think of the funnest things to do!

  7. cecilia says:

    WOW! That is amazing, esp the images of his going through town.. c

  8. Sophie33 says:

    Lovely pics & I love Kung Fu Panda! Ha!

  9. Katie says:

    Half a mile of fabric covered with paint, wow! I never knew these were so big having only seen them on tv. So interesting!

  10. Eva Taylor says:

    How cool is that? What a wonderful way to spend thanksgiving with your loved ones. I hope you’ll share what you ate and where you stayed too.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      You really should plan a Thanksgiving trip to NYC, you would love it. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera and my daughter did not bring her battery charger so no food photo. You will love the next 2 posts- tomorrow and Sunday.
      Hope you are fully recovered.

  11. Kim says:

    Looks so interesting, a great way to spend time with adult children :0)
    I look forward to the next installment of your adventure in NYC.

    Happy Gardeniing

  12. I’m glad you made sure you got to experience this.. it looks like so much fun. Sometimes people just have to be told and then afterwards they recognize how cool it was to be there? This makes me want to go now!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Barbara,
      Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get what you want. You would enjoy the experience. I find the inflating of the balloons much more interesting that the parade which I can watch on TV.

  13. Adorable photos my friend must have been a brilliant parade 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. Maureen says:

    I really miss the parades for Thanksgiving and New Year’s day. Not on tv here unfortunately. I love how you told everyone ahead of time that they would attend. LOL

  15. What fun! I’ve never seen any of those Thanksgiving Parade balloons in person, but to watch it go from flat to fully inflated must be very cool. I have seen hot air balloons inflated out in a park, which was fun. What amazes me is that they can do these character balloons in the heart of the city and not pop them. Sounds like you had a really fun holiday!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Betsy,
      I think this is similar to observing the inflating of hot air balloons except that hot air balloons are inflated the day of while the Macy’s balloons can be inflated the day before.

  16. Hotly Spiced says:

    Good on you for organising a great family day out. I have always wanted to attend a parade in NYC – we hear so much about them here. xx

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    Thank you so much, Norma, you dictator, you! 🙂
    I had no idea how the balloons were inflated or anything about them, for that matter. This stuff is fascinating to me and I really enjoyed this post. Too bad, though, that so many other families had dictators, too, creating a crowd so large that it hampered movement. I’m not a big fan of large crowds. I might make an exception, though, if I could watch a balloon or two get inflated. 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      I find this behind-the-scene event more interesting (educational too) than the parade. I don’t mind large crowd, and NYC would not be the same without crowd, this was just insanely huge.
      Hope you enjoy today’s (and tomorrow’s) post too.

  18. Kristy says:

    You were right Norma! Miss A is sitting with me as I read this and she can’t believe how small of a crate Po came out of! Neither can I. I love the shots of him coming into the street and disappearing behind the next building. I have always wanted to go to the Macy’s T-day parade. It’s on my list of things to do someday. I’m so glad you shared. 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Kristy,
      If you make it to NYC at Thanksgiving be sure to attend the inflating of the balloons and get to the site early to view the very beginning. When you decide, drop me a note, would love to meet you. Miss A is going to love tomorrow’s post.

  19. What an amazing experience. It really is a lot of hard work and prep to get these balloons off the ground. Of course I am kind of partial to the Kung Fu Panda. Did you stay to the end of the parade and sit on Santas lap and tell him what you want for Christmas? (Maybe some new gardening tools? )Take care, BAM

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