Harold Returns to the Macy's Parade

On Thanksgiving Day in 1946, one of the six balloons featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was Harold the Baseball Player. The parade was not televised back then, but among the crowd of people watching that day were several units of a Hollywood film crew shooting a movie that was to be 1947's Miracle on 34th Street. People outside of New York City got their first view of the annual parade in that movie, albeit in black and white.

Early in the movie, Susan is watching the parade from a West 77th Street apartment window, not a projection of the parade shot months earlier by a second unit, but the actual November 1946 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

When Fred Gailey (John Payne), Susan's neighbor and her mother's love interest, comments that the balloon handlers appear to be having trouble with the baseball player, Susan remarks that it was a clown last year. That wasn’t movie magic. Harold the Baseball Player had been Harold the Clown at the real parade the year before and Harold the Fireman the year before that.

So 8-year-old Natalie Wood had to nail her lines the first time in that scene, because they couldn't call the balloon back to shoot a second take. Impressive. Harold the Baseball Player will make a return to the 2017 parade. The three-story balloon has been built, this time in black and white (and shades of gray). The original Harold was made in color, but since more people saw him in the black-and-white movie than in person, this new monochrome balloon is a tribute to Miracle on 34th Street. You have to admire the idea of a black-and-white balloon in a parade broadcast in color in reference to a full-color balloon shown on black-and-white film. Read about the return of Harold, and see a video, at Mashable.


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