One of the challenges on staging this is that the area they have for blowing up the balloons is outside of "the loop" (of transit tracks), and the inflated figures need to be carefully pulled under the elevated tracks to get them into the actual parade route on State St., north of Van Buren.
Well, today, something went badly for the Tasmanian Devil which evidently had a hole ripped into it on its way under the El tracks ... by the time it got up to us (a few blocks up at Monroe), it was already quite worse for wear. As you can see in this picture, Taz's right arm is hanging limp, and when it passed us the facial details (tongue, teeth, etc.) were already deflated. We were about half way up the route, and I wonder if the balloon made it up to Randolph (on the north side of The Store Formerly Known as Marshall Fields) where they deflate them.
The Wife and Daughter #2 bailed early, wimping out on the cold, leaving #1 and me to get ourselves home. I hadn't "done the math" that most places weren't going to be open on Thanksgiving, and thought we'd just pop in and grab some soup at (TSFKAM) Fields, but they weren't opening until 8pm tonight (at which point they'd be open for a 24-hour run). We then went a few blocks over to try Panera, but they were closed, and we even tried the Wabash McDonalds, but that was closed as well. At that point we figured we'd just head over to the 22/36 bus stop, where the Randolph & Dearborn McD's was open (with no line for the mens room!).
On the way over there, we passed the aforementioned area where they deflate the character balloons, and I was amazed that those collapse down to a 3'x 3' cube. They also have a very low-tech way of getting the last bits of air out ... we saw one balloon, wadded into about the size of a couch, with three guys lying on top of it, rolling around to press out the air.
I don't know what I was thinking in regards to places being open ... I was bummed that neither Office Depot nor Staples were open (again, until 8pm!), as I figured I'd pick up a few things "while I was downtown", but I guess I shouldn't have expected that office supply places would have been open on Turkey day.