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Science, Engineering… and Balloons?

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by Jazzy Elliott

If you’re like us at PTL, you spend Thanksgiving eating delicious food, watching football, and enjoying time with friends and family. You may have even been entertained by the world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Have you ever thought about the science and engineering it takes to pull off this event?

Here are some cool facts about balloons featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Many people don’t know, but when the parade started in 1924, live animals were the main feature of the parade! Over time, the animals were replaced with the incredible balloons we all know and love. The first helium filled balloons were designed by Goodyear Tire and had address labels in them so that when they were deflated, they could be returned to the rightful owner.

Things have really progressed since then. Now, a team of around 30 people conceive and designs the huge balloons from start to finish. They begin by making clay models to scale. From here, using water displacement, they estimate how much helium will be needed to hold the real balloon aloft in the sky. Once made of rubber, balloons are now crafted from various fabrics coated in polyurethane to make the balloons flexible and durable enough for the parade. The most important feature of the material is that it is leak resistant, of course!

In order to fly through the sky on Thanksgiving Day, the average balloon requires roughly 12,000 cubic feet of helium! Because of this, each balloon demands an average of 90 handlers during the parade. Balloon handlers must weigh at least 120 pounds and have a clean bill of health to do the job!

As you can tell, it takes a mind for math, science, physics, and engineering to make the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a success. The same can be said for all of the exciting projects we work on every day here at PTL! To learn more about the many services we offer, visit our website, or contact us! Whether your project is large or small, we have the right team members and equipment for the job!

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