Strong with this one, the anticipation is.
Grogu — better known as “Baby Yoda,” the adorable alien at the center of Disney’s megahit Star Wars spinoff “The Mandalorian,” — made his debut Saturday morning at Macy’s Balloonfest at Citi Field.
The event is a test flight for the giant balloons that became a signature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. A few hundred handlers take the balloons out for an outdoor trial run through the ballpark’s parking lot, to get experience flying the freshman class of the inflated creations, which range from 39- to 51-feet tall.
“It’s sort of our last stage in the balloon development process,” said Will Coss, executive producer of the parade. “This is our opportunity to bring all those new balloons out, work with our expert flight team and select balloon handlers to ensure that we understand how the balloon flies and how it reacts in certain weather conditions.”
“We put it through certain series of paces to understand all aspects of the balloon in its natural environment as it will fly on Thanksgiving Day,” he explained, adding that they monitor the weather up until the last minute to make sure it’s safe to fly.
Over the years, wayward balloons have injured workers and spectators. The city enacted strict rules after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a woman.
The 41-foot-tall, 29-foot long Baby Yoda balloon, whose design was inspired by Funko Pops, the super-popular collectible bobble-head like dolls, has an ear span of 37 feet. As he flies, “The Child” is reaching out for the knob from the Mandolorian’s ship, Razor Crest, that he plays with in the series.
“It goes without saying that our giant character balloons are an iconic element of our show and we are really excited to bring Baby Yoda Grogu to life,” Cass said. “The goal is really to have all of our characters be these larger than life spectacles in the air that should be surprising and delighting through out the entire parade route.”
The character is not the only new balloon that will fly in the 95th annual parade.
When it returns to its full route from Central Park West to 6th Avenue and 34th Street on Nov. 25, the parade will feature six new giant character balloons. The 2020 “parade” was a truncated, made-for-TV version with no real crowds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also debuting are Netflix’s Ada Twist, Scientist, a new Ronald McDonald, Pokemon’s Pikachu & Eevee, and Tony the Bandleader Bear, a character from Macy’s named for a pioneer of the parade, Tony Sarg.
In addition, “Tiptoe,” a reindeer that Macy’s will feature throughout the holidays, will appear as the first ever “balloon puppet,” whose head bobs and legs move.
The new 68-foot long, 40-foot tall Ronald McDonald — the clown’s fifth design since he joined the parade in 1987 – replaces one that was dragged from the parade in 2019 when it partially deflated.