We came to Universal Studios today because we got a flyer from them about the Macy’s day parade that happens there. We didn’t know this, but they take the balloons from the parade in NY and bring them to Universal and do the parade over again throughout December. What’s cool, though, is that you can sign up to be a balloon handler, so you get to walk the parade carrying one of the balloons. I got Charlie the Elf, which was one of the mid sized balloons. (I picked it because I got a picture of Charlene with the elf at the front of the park and that gives you an idea of their size.) It was definitely memorable, but it was a lot of work. you spend about an hour ahead of time getting ready with training on the proper way to handle a balloon and what the various hand signals are because the pilot will be walking in front of you directing you around obstacles and such. Our pilot, Joe, was a great guy and kept us entertained in the back with stories about the parade and things like that to make the time go faster. I was one of the last balloons in the parade, so Charlene had to wait a long time by the parade route to see me, but she took pictures of everything as it went by since I didn’t get to see any of the floats ‘live’. (Granted, it was funny to see the characters in back with their heads off and stuff before they went ‘live’ and had to be in character.)
All in all, if you get the chance to be a balloon handler, do it. It’s a lot of fun.