How a Sponge Becomes a (Really Big!) Balloon

Ever wonder how the balloons are made? What keeps SpongeBob’s float afloat? We’ve got you covered.

It’s almost time for SpongeBob and his friends to make their way through the New York City skies! Now on their 96th Parade (hey, isn’t that how old your great uncle Bert is?) the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® is known for its dazzling musical numbers, dancers, keeping you and your great uncle entertained before turkey time, and of course, its iconic giant balloons! Ahead, learn how a Sponge becomes a Balloon!

SpongeBob SquarePants Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon

Much like DoodleBob himself, every big balloon starts as a drawing. Sketches are drawn, and redrawn, and then crumpled up into a ball and erased with a big magic eraser and drawn again! Once the shape is perfect and everyone is satisfied, then that doodle goes into production.

SpongeBob SquarePants Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon

Before SpongeBob gets super-sized, a small-scale model is made to help the folks who are building the balloon understand the structure before they build the big balloon! Kinda like a 3-D rough draft, or how your Uncle Bert dresses his mini-Bert model up in an outfit every night before bed to decide what he’ll wear the next day. 

Think of it like building a sculpture! Every nook and cranny of the final sketch has to go from 2D to 3D, including SpongeBob’s arms, legs, elbows, shoes, and pockets of spongey goodness. It’s all built small to start, then produced as big as it needs to be for the final balloon, and from there sewn into a beautiful, inflatable creation!

SpongeBob SquarePants Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon handlers.

The Parade balloons aren’t like regular balloons you’d blow up for a birthday party. Imagine whoopee cushion material, only a GILLION TIMES THICKER, and that’s basically how you get Parade balloons.

Unlike regular balloons, these giant balloons can’t be super fragile. They need to be thick enough to hold all the extra air inside of them and not pop if they brush up against a tree branch, your school bus, or your great uncle Bert’s elbow.

What’s inside the balloons, you ask? Excellent question, it’s farts. Just kidding (that’d be way too stinky and time-consuming. We’ve got to think smarter, not stinkier.) The balloons are full of helium, a special type of gas that’s lighter than the air we breathe. That’s why some balloons float, and the ones you blow up by yourself sink. You’re not doing anything wrong – the balloons that float are just filled up by the pros at the party store, or the makers of giant sponge balloons!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade SpongeBob SquarePants balloon handlers.

How do we keep the balloons from floating away? The handlers, of course! They may be Plankton-size compared to the gigantic SpongeBob, but these folks are very important. They keep Spongebob and his friends tethered to the ground, and help them move across the city (since no one wants a Spongezilla stomping around.)

This year’s Parade will be here faster than your great uncle Bert scrambling to explain himself when you catch him meowing back to Gary on TV! Before you cut into your turkey (or tofurkey, or turkey tacos, or turkey tuna salad) check out what’s up (in the air!)