Balloons Over Broadway

balloons over broadwayBalloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet is one of my favorite books to read around Thanksgiving. It delves into the fascinating history behind the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

This biographical picture book tells the story of Tony Sarg (1880-1942), who is considered by many to be the father of American puppetry. As a child living in Germany, Tony loved to create things that moved. As an adult, he lived and worked in New York, where his renowned marionettes performed on Broadway. In 1924 Macy’s department store hired Tony to produce costumes and floats for a spectacular holiday parade for their employees. Many of Macy’s employees were immigrants who missed the holiday tradition of lively street festivals. The parade grew bigger and more popular every year. When people complained that the live animals in the parade frightened the children, Macy’s asked Tony to create larger-than-life puppets to replace them.


This incredible true story is entertaining, illuminating, and inspiring. As a huge fan of the parade myself, I enjoyed learning more about its history. Melissa Sweet deftly layers mixed-media elements to create the stunning illustrations. She incorporates papier-mâché puppets, found objects, and handmade toys into her impressive collages, which beautifully accent the watercolor paintings. An original advertisement for the parade from a 1933 issue of The New York Times is reprinted inside the back cover. This is just one of many thoughtful details to be found throughout this book.

Balloons Over Broadway is perfect for any junior historian, an aspiring inventor, or anyone who has watched and enjoyed the fabulous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! In short, this book is well written, delightfully illustrated, and absolutely should not be missed. I recommend this book for ages 5+.

Before you go, be sure to check out these fantastic Picture Books about Thanksgiving!

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