The Cat in the Hat is Back -- and Floating Through Springfield

November 23, 2017 GMT

SPRINGFIELD -- If you still want to enjoy Thanksgiving festivities this Black Friday, look no further than Springfield for giant, colorful balloons floating down its streets.

“We kind of refer to it as our own mini Macy’s Day Parade -- our balloons are just as big as the ones at Macy’s,” said Amy Barron-Burke, Spirit of Springfield vice president.

Spirit of Springfield has been putting on the annual parade since 1991, but the tradition goes back decades through multiple groups. This year it is sponsored by Tower Square and the group is expecting about 60,000 people to flock the parade route down Main Street from Lyman Street to Locust Street at 11 a.m. Friday.

There will be eight balloons filled with about 30,000-cubic feet of helium, said Barron-Burke. Floating down the street will be Peppa the Pig, Cailou dressed as a drum major, Strawberry Shortcake, the MGM Lion, Twinkles the Snowman, Santa holding an ornament and the American flag.

However, the most special to Springfield is the Spirit of Springfield’s own Cat in the Hat balloon.

“The Cat in the Hat balloon will only fly in Springfield,” said Barron-Burke. “We were given permission by Dr. Seuss’ widow, and the year after we created the balloon we got a request a request to fly it at a big football tournament and she denied it.”

She added it is special to be able to keep the balloon in just Springfield’s parade because the city is the birthplace of the prolific children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known from his pseudonym Dr. Seuss.

The organization gets all the balloons from StarBound Entertainment in New Castle, Pennsylvania and will have around 200 volunteers to lead them safely down the street.

The parade will also feature an array of musical, motorized and marching contingents, including the Springfield Shriners, Marquis of Granby, Springfield and Chicopee St. Patrick’s Day Committees, Miss Latina Western Mass, Springfield Boys & Girls Club, JROTC’s from Putnam High School and Springfield Central High School and many more entries.

“The community comes out with their holiday best and brings out their singing groups and dancing groups and it’s a good time,” said Barron-Burke.

She added the “star of the show,” will of course be Santa Claus himself, finishing off the parade sitting high above the crowd on the Springfield Fire Department’s Ladder #1. The Springfield Police Department will be represented by the color guard, the tactical response vehicle, motorcycles and more.

Leading the parade as this year’s Parade Marshal will be Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri.

“I am looking forward to even better years to come, working toward continued success in making Springfield a great place to live, work, be entertained and invest in economic development,” said Barbieri. “I cannot wait to see everyone on Friday, Nov. 24.”

Barbieri has served Springfield for nearly 30 years as a patrolman, officer and commissioner.

“We just wanted to thank him and honor him for giving 30 years to this city,” said Barron-Burke.

She added if you haven’t seen the parade before, you should expect “lots of big, colorful balloons and a friendly crowd.”

Following the parade, everyone is invited to Tower Square, 1500 Main St., for its annual Holiday Open House from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be an array of performances and activities, including photos and gifts with Santa for $5 per photo, carolers and special appearances by a Minion, Olaf the Snowman and Princesses Anna and Elsa from the animated movie “Frozen.”

“They have a great marionette show, Santa’s there and the Boys & Girls Club opens up their festival of trees. There’s entertainment all around the mall -- it’s packed,” said Barron-Burke.

For more information about the Parade of the Big Balloons and Tower Square’s Holiday Open House, visit spiritofspringfield.org .

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