Seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on my bucket list. It is now in its 88th year as a parade, but in 1924 it was called Macy’s Christmas Parade complete with animals from the Central Park Zoo. If one does the math, 2014 minus 1924 equals 90 years. In 1942, the rubber used for the balloons was need for the war effort and the parade was suspended for two years.
The famous balloons began as early as 1927 with Felix the Cat, and continues today with Snoopy having the most appearances. I thought it quaint, but in 1929 makers of the balloons installed slow release valves for the helium. This allowed the balloons to float free for a couple of days gradually returning to earth. A return label was sewn into the rubber for finders to mail the character back to Macy’s in exchange for a small gift.
“Ankle Soup” by Maureen Sullivan is the story of a French bulldog named Carlos and his special day at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As one can guess, he spends most of the day not viewing the balloons above but the brightly colored socks, hose, and tights of the many people who attend or participate in the event.
He begins his day with his owner, whom he refers to as “mistress,” lodged in a vibrant red carrying case. “I never know what my mistress is doing. She has a routine that she’s always pooh-poohing. The way things change make me jumpy and nervous. Could it be she’s an agent? F. B. I? Secret Service?”
On the next page, readers will see a big yellow taxi with Carlos on the lap of mistress in the backseat. In the skyscape, parade balloons bob up and down with Kermit in the lead followed by three red and white Macy’s stars. The famous clump of circus balls announces Chloe the Clown next followed by Clifford the Big Red Dog who sticks his nose out from around a building.
Carlos continues, “So let me describe what happened one day. It was fall in New York, the parade underway. My mistress and I rushed out the door, and jumped in a cab fearing soon it might pour.”
Sullivan has written three picture books featuring her real pet, Carlos. They all share a rhythmic pace as mistress takes Carlos on adventures around New York City. All three books are illustrated by Alison Josephs whose style is bright colors like Mississippi artist Wyatt Waters. This book is a fun and unique way to see the famous parade.