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Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Day Parade

It may be because I was born on Thanksgiving, but I have always had a small obsession with the Macy's Day Parade!  That's why I want to take a close look at Caldecott Honor, Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Day Parade, by Melissa Sweet.

I was born on Thanksgiving, so I may be partial to all things Thanksgiving related, but I just love the tradition of the Macy's Day Parade.  No... not the lip synching debacle (I try to ignore that as best I can!)  I love the celebration of different cultures, the master puppetry of the balloons, the music (the bands!), the dancing and the pure celebration.

This book gives a wonderful history of the Macy's Day Parade, while examining it's chief designer, Tony Sarg.  Did you know that Macy's originally created the parade for their their employees?  Many were immigrants and missed their own holiday traditions, music and dance, so Macy's agreed to host a parade for them.

While sharing the history of this 88-year tradition, it also looks at the creative mind of Tony Sarg.  He was a self-taught master puppeteer, with a knack for creative problem-solving.  When the animals from the local zoo proved too scary to children, he began to create large puppets to replace them.  He went through many versions over the years, but finally ended up with an upside-down puppet filled with air- The Ballon Puppets!

This story isn't only great to discuss creative problem solving, and allowing students to experiment with their own float/balloon designs.  I also love using this story to  practice mapping skills and learn the Macy's Day Parade Route.  I created a student-friendly map of Lower Manhattan, and a little scavenger hunt to help them find the route. (Click on the Image to grab download!)

I typically have students use a pencil first, and highlight the route after they have double checked their work.  It can also be fun to have students compare this new route to the original route (down Broadway).

My students always come back from Thanksgiving Break with stories of watching the Macy's Day Parade with their family and watching them turn onto each street they highlighted.  I love the connections they are able to make, the creative-problem solving the story models, and the author's homage to art and artists.

You can pick up your copy of Balloons Over Broadway by clicking {HERE}


  1. Do you have the mapping activity on TPT or somewhere where I can buy it? :-) this is an awesome tie into maps!

    1. Hi Meg! You should be able to click on the images above and it will take you to the Google doc! Enjoy the Freebie!

  2. Thanks for the awesome freebie Jillian! This will be an exciting new addition to my collection. Love the back story you shared about the Macy's Day Parade...I had no clue.
    Laura Santos
    Core Inspiration by Laura Santos