In Brief

Yayoi Kusama Designs a Balloon for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

A giant sun will be the Japanese contemporary artist’s contribution to this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

“Love Flies Up to the Sky” by Yayoi Kusama is unveiled in East Rutherford, NJ, and it will be part of the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.)

On Thursday, November 28, 2019, Kusama’s “Love Flies Up to the Sky” balloon will take part in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is expected to draw more than 3.5 million spectators and more than 50 million viewers nationwide. Kusama’s design is the latest in the Parade’s Blue Sky Gallery series, which invites contemporary artists to create balloons in their distinctive styles — Kusama is the first woman to receive the commission.

“Love Flies Up to the Sky” uses the language of her My Eternal Soul series of paintings, which is a body of work she began in 2009, along with her ubiquitous dots, which has has been using since the 1960s.

“This year the world’s most popular living female artist, the iconic Yayoi Kusama joins the Parade’s acclaimed Blue Sky Gallery series of balloons making these creations a collection of high-flying art worthy of museums around the world. We can’t wait for millions to enjoy the hypnotic, colorful and whimsical beauty of ‘Love Flies Up to the Sky’ this Thanksgiving,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

All this will depends on whether the city decides to ground the balloons this year after weather reports suggest high winds could cause problems during Thursday’s event.

Also, did you know in the late 1920s, Macy’s began releasing its balloons into the sky after the festivities while offering a monetary reward for their return? That “tradition” ended in 1932 after one balloon hit a plane, sending it on a 5,000-foot plunge. Thankfully no one was hurt.

“Love Flies Up to the Sky” by Yayoi Kusama (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.)
“Love Flies up to the Sky” by Yayoi Kusama (graphic courtesy Macy’s Inc.)

Update, 12/2/2019, 2:43pm EST: After much fanfare, visitors to this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade noticed one artist-designed balloon didn’t make it through the streets of Manhattan. Yayoi Kusama’s sun-like red balloon was grounded because of weather conditions, so Hyperallergic reached out to Macy’s, which provided us with the following statement about the decision:

“The 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade once again brought the nation incredible entertainment kicking off the holiday season with a grand spectacle. While ultimately the wind conditions allowed our signature balloons to join the lineup, some of the balloons suffered stress and tears during the overnight inflation which resulted in the Ronald McDonald giant balloon being pulled midway through the Parade. Three smaller balloons including two stars and the Yayoi Kusama designed art balloon never left the balloon staging area. All of the extensive planning and safety protocols in place for the Parade helped to prepare the team to execute a fantastic event despite these minor challenges.”

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