The Cat, Back Out of the Bag

How did huge inflatable balloons become such a cherished part of Thanksgiving week? Don’t wait on us for a clear answer — we’re still trying to suss out what bunnies and plastic grass have to do with the resurrection of Jesus — but Americans have clearly latched onto it, and at this point, a 75-foot Cat in the Hat seems like a pretty harmless tradition.

In Springfield, The Cat has plenty of company (Macy’s, eat your heart out): Daniel the Tiger, Butterscotch the Elf, Honey Bee, American Flag, Wintery Strawberry Shortcake, and Burgundy Nutcracker. The balloons tower over Main Street as they float from block to block, backed up by families, neighborhood groups, bands, tourists, and motorized contingents. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, so you’re encouraged to come early, park at Tower Square, and find a good spot for parade viewing. Then afterward, find some fun (and free) family entertainment inside Tower Square’s Holiday Open House.


Parade of the Big Balloons: Friday at 11 a.m. Tower Square and Main Street from Lyman down to Locust, Springfield. (413) 733-3800,


— Hunter Styles