With less than two weeks left until Thanksgiving Day, you can bet the team behind Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade is hard at work ensuring every float and balloon is ready to make its grand appearance on November 25. While fans can expect to see countless familiar faces and beloved characters as they take the windy stroll down Manhattan’s 6th avenue, the big news this year is Macy’s newest addition to their parade balloon line-up: beloved Mandalorian‘s character Grogu (aka Baby Yoda).
As part of a collaboration between Macy’s, Star Wars’ production company Lucasfilm, and, oddly enough, collectible manufacturer Funko, the various companies have banded together to construct a balloon version of the hit Grogu Funko Pop! figurine. At 41-feet high, 29-feet long, and 37-feet wide, the balloon is a massive size increase for the little green guy that quickly became a fan favorite upon making his big debut in the hit 2019 Disney+ series The Mandalorian, but is every bit as cute. According to Funko creative director Reis O’Brien (via Decider), “cuteness” was actually Funko’s primary objective when helping to construct the balloon. While it fell about Lucasfilm to ensure they kept the “Grogu-ness” of the float, Funko was focused on making sure the giant-sized baby was certifiably adorable. Luckily, O’Brien said, the character already has a whole lot of adorableness to work with.
“Grogu as a character is… concentrated uncut cuteness, so he kind of does a lot of the heavy lifting just by his general look and feel anyway.”
According to O’Brien, a lot of focus went into making sure Grogu’s “nose, upper lip, and brow” all conveyed the right expression for maximum cute-ness. To help aide the cause, the team also spent a lot of time crafting his signature silver ball he is constantly chasing in the series in order to place the little guy in an adorable situation and show off his lil’ baby Yoda feet.
“When I first saw this balloon in person, I saw the feet dangle in the back and I was like, it’s so cute from behind,” Ben Butcher, senior vice president of creative for Funko recalled. “We’re going to win any cute awards for this show.”
However, cuteness wasn’t the only deciding factor that led to Grogu joining the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to Brian Mariotti, CEO of Funko, Grogu is first-and-foremost one of the biggest pop culture icons of the last few years, and almost represents a sort of resilience, considering recent events. After all, even in the midst of a pandemic, the Star Wars spinoff series’ succeeded in reaching cultural significance, and acted as one of a few media properties that kept pop culture lovers everywhere bonded. Ultimately, Mariotti said, creating a Grogu balloon felt like the obvious choice:
“How do we find something that’s so relevant in pop culture, but also feels like it’s fun?” Mariotti recalled. “And so you start going around and… You’re in the pandemic. There’s not a lot of new… Very little movies, very little new TV shows coming out. And the one piece of content that was kind of like our cowbell for the entire time has been Mandalorian.”
Luckily for the Funko team, Lucasfilm and Macy’s were both completely on board with the idea and gave the team the greenlight. Will Coss, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, said he also believed Grogu felt right at home in the parade, as he embodies all the qualities that have made the event great for the past 95 years.
“Our goal is to create opportunities, to surprise and delight our fans of the parade, in person and at home. So we really try to seek partnerships that create that opportunity,” Coss said. “For at a moment’s notice, at a glance up in the sky, you see something, you feel something. And Grogu is a perfect testament to that character, who embodies all the things that the parade does, and in its long history of the parade, has done for 95 years.”
You can catch Grogu, and the rest of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, on starting at 9 AM ET on Thursday, November 25 on NBC. Perhaps even more excitingly, you can also catch Star Wars next spinoff series, The Book of Boba Fett, when it premieres on December 29 on Disney+.