At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight). Sweet runs through the various problems Sarg had to solve before his behemoths could fly: “He would have to make much larger puppets in order for them to be seen in the parade. And how could he make them strong enough to hold up in bad weather yet light enough to move up and down the streets?” (He hired a blimp manufacturer in Ohio to create his designs out of rubberized silk.) His biggest concern was that the balloons seem animated, that they move like puppets, so he came up with the idea to control them like marionettes, only with the control strings on the bottom instead of the top. Thus, thanks to Tony Sarg, SpongeBob soars. An author’s note and source list are appended.
From the November/December 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.