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the Happy Hippo!

posted Nov 25, 2015, 10:23 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Nov 25, 2015, 10:25 AM ]
Once again as our nation gathers to give thanks with family and friends, millions of people will watch the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade®. I’ve been one of the 8,000 volunteers that make the famous 2½ mile march for seventeen years now! I’m a balloon pilot who walks backward (yes, backward!) about half a block ahead of my team, monitoring the balloons flight through wind and tree branches, using hand gestures much like an orchestra conductor does, to cue the balloon handlers.

I’m piloting the Happy Hippo, who first appeared in 1940, so this year marks the 75
th anniversary of her debut; her diamond jubilee! Back then she was considered part of the “big balloon” lineup, but not anymore, compared to the modern giant balloons. Amy Kule, executive producer of the parade, says “She’s brighter than she was back then. She’s got very elegant, elongated eyelashes. We changed her decoration around her waist… she’s wearing a really beautiful bow that looks more like a poinsettia.”

John Rox composed a Christmas novelty song I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, which 10-year-old Gayla Peevey performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in October, 1953. By December, the song hit #24 on Billboard magazine’s pop chart, and Peevy’s hometown of Oklahoma City was so proud of her, they actually presented her with a baby hippo named Matilda on Christmas Day! She donated this happy hippo to the city zoo, where Matilda lived for nearly 50 years!

If you’d like to “parade”, consider joining our staff and cuori BELLissimi! as we go caroling on Wednesday afternoons to the homebound! We’ll gather in the Good Shepherd each Wednesday at 3:45
PM, then as long as it’s not raining, (we can’t let our bells and chime get wet!) immediately set out for a 45-minute parade of Christmas carols within our neighborhood! Join us!