Sure, there are performers, and marching bands and cheerleaders and elaborate floats, but honestly? The real stars of the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are the balloons. I mean, those things basically defy the laws of physics. They are huge! Not to mention that they take six to nine months to construct and need an entire team of people to control during the parade that consist of a pilot, two co-pilots, one captain, two assistant captains, on top of the team that controls the vehicle the balloon is tied to. And all of those people coordinate their outfits to match the design of the balloon. Not to mention it take an incredible amount of helium to keep those things afloat (the equivalent of approximately 500,000 Mylar balloons), and...there is a helium shortage. As the parade is one of the largest consumers of helium in the country, organizers tried to work around it by taking helium out of the balloons and re-pressurizing it (science!).
But balloon geekery aside, they’re just pretty freaking cool to watch, which makes them a big hit for kids and adults alike. There are 60 balloons of different sizes featured in this year’s parade, but here are some of the most notable, ranked by increasing awesomeness.
Paddington is an old fave, and stands 60 feet tall and needs 70 handlers to operate. And, uh, his suitcase is as big as a two-car garage. For real! (But where is his marmalade sandwich?!)
Surprisingly, Pokeman’s Pikachu has been a pretty long-standing fixture in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: this year marks his 15th consecutive parade appearance.
The only square balloon in the entire parade, which already gives it an edge over the regular balloons. And also, it’s SpongeBob. Who doesn’t like SpongeBob?
Red From Angry Birds
A GIANT ANGRY BIRD. A 7-feet-wide Angry Birds balloon. How can you not love his angry scowl?
Thomas The Tank Engine
Happy Thanksgiving from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Did you know it takes 90 people to hold Thomas' balloon? pic.twitter.com/ugmttdYYK1— Thomas & Friends (@ThomasFriends) November 26, 2015
If you have kids, it’s basically required that you adore Thomas. So it’s particularly exciting to see that smiling very useful engine hanging out in the sky. Also, it is 450lbs, which makes it the heaviest balloon in the entire parade (how does it fly?? HOW DOES IT FLY???).
Skratt From Ice Age
One of this year’s new balloons, Skratt from Ice Age is hilarious and cute. Also winning him extra points? The people on Twitter wondering if he was #pizzarat.
Dino is a balloon that is returning for the first time of 40 years in honor of Sinclair Oil Corporation’s 100th anniversary next year. But that’s not the cool part. This balloon is 72 feet long, 24 feet wide, 36 feet tall — which are the exact measurements of a real, life-size apatosaurus (now, that is pretty cool).
The Red Power Ranger
The Power Ranger balloon had to make the list, not only for the 90s nostalgia factor, but because it is the largest balloon in the entire parade, measuring 78-feet long (each of his arms is as big as a school bus!).
Snoopy has to win, because Snoopy. Snoopy is synonymous with the Macy’s parade, having appeared in more parades than any other balloon. This year will be Snoopy’s 39th run.
Main image: Brad Barket/Getty Images Entertainment