The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is known for its megalithic balloons floats. For many years, we've seen giant, inflated versions of our favorite cartoon characters floating through the streets. The most iconic one — and the one most people identify closely with the parade — is Snoopy the beagle.
However, a little digging shows that Snoopy isn't the character to appear most often in the parade. The character who did make the most appearances might be a bit of a surprise.
Snoopy checks in with 21 parade appearances since 1987, making him the runner up. At 24 parade appearances in thirty years, the reigning champion is: Ronald McDonald.
It makes sense that a corporation with the resources and power of McDonald's would make their presence known at an event like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The company is as American as apple pie — in fact, they're probably the easiest place to get apple pie year-round in America.
Yet what's really strange about Ronald McDonald's consistent appearances in the parade is that, if you think about it, he's not a consistent part of McDonalds' branding. The burger-selling clown comes and goes from advertisements and decorations within the restaurant, at times disappearing altogether.
In recent years, McDonald's has leaned much more heavily on the simple yellow smile in a red field, comprised of two simply rendered French fries. Their TV commercials depict happy, smiling people eating burgers, with no red-haired clowns in sight.
Still, Ronald McDonald is undeniably a big part of American culture, and it's fitting that he stand amongst giants in our yearly parade.