OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
All right everybody. It's time for a new segment we're calling Meet The Expert. Please welcome to the ASK ME ANOTHER stage the executive producer of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Amy Kule.
AMY KULE: It is great to be here. I'm so used to your voice echoing over all the speakers in my house, but seeing you live, this is awesome.
EISENBERG: Aw. Amy, how many years have you been working at the parade as the executive producer?
KULE: As executive producer, this is my seventh year. But actually, this is my 20th parade.
KULE: Started when I was 7.
EISENBERG: Yeah, I was going to say.
KULE: I want to fit in with everybody here.
EISENBERG: And you are the first person out. Like, you start the parade.
KULE: I start the parade. Al and I cut the ribbon, and then we walk straight on down to Macy's Herald Square.
KULE: Yeah, but I do it in heels. Al, not so much.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) You do the whole thing in heels?
KULE: I do the whole thing in heels. I start at 5 a.m. in heels and go to about 3 or 4. It's painful.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Oh.
EISENBERG: Nope. That is not painful. That is a hero.
KULE: Oh, very good. Very good.
EISENBERG: The balloons change a lot.
KULE: They do.
EISENBERG: And what are you favorite new ones?
KULE: You know, every year, we have new balloons. Every year, we have four or five ones. We've got a bunch of new floats. But when we have new characters that enter the parade, like Red from "Angry Birds," I get very happy.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.
KULE: Scrat from "Ice Age" will be joining the parade this year. So, yeah. And he's going to be chasing his acorn. He'll never get it, but he'll be chasing it down the parade route. So I love seeing those new balloons come to life.
EISENBERG: That's great. And obviously the balloons have changed over the years. Do you miss any retired ones?
KULE: I do. You know, there are balloons that people believe are still flying in the parade. And in, you know, in 1965 - we're talking 50 years ago - we had Underdog in the parade. And truly, it's a classic, right? Truly, if you ask people now, they'll be, like, Underdog is my favorite balloon.
KULE: And he's so not there.
EISENBERG: Oh, can we bring him back?
KULE: I would love to bring him back. I'd love to bring Felix the Cat back. He was the first character balloon we ever had in the parade, 1927. That was my first year. I feel great.
EISENBERG: Wow. Yeah.
EISENBERG: So you're about to help us with a game about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And our contestant is actually on the line.
Hello, you're on ASK ME ANOTHER.
FRAN DEMUSZ: Hi, I'm Francesca DeMusz. I'm calling in from Cape May, N.J.
EISENBERG: Yes, nice to meet you.
EISENBERG: Francesca, can I call you Fran?
DEMUSZ: You can call me Fran.
EISENBERG: Is that OK?
EISENBERG: Who would you like to see as the grand marshal of a Macy's parade?
DEMUSZ: I think Ellen would be a good grand marshal.
EISENBERG: Amy would like that very much.
KULE: Make a phone call, please.
EISENBERG: Yeah, she just asks that...
DEMUSZ: I'll dial her right now.
EISENBERG: Yeah, just right after you get off the phone with us. Just let her know. So Fran, we're going to ask you a few questions about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Amy will tell us if you're right or wrong. And if you get enough right, you will win an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube. OK, so here we go. Over 1,500 people volunteer each year to be a balloon handler and walk these wonderful balloons down the parade route. Which is a requirement of the job? Either, A - you must be over 5 feet tall, B - you must weigh at least 125 pounds, or C - you must be a high school graduate?
DEMUSZ: B - the weight requirement.
EISENBERG: The weight requirement. Amy?
KULE: She is absolutely right.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.
DEMUSZ: Yes (laughter).
KULE: Fran, how much do you weigh? Could you do it?
DEMUSZ: I weight 140 pounds, I think. I don't know. So I could do it.
KULE: Awesome. You got it. You're in.
EISENBERG: There was just a lot of honesty that I wasn't anticipating.
KULE: I'm not clear I would have answered that correctly.
EISENBERG: I think that's amazing.
KULE: When the parade first started with helium balloons, we used to let the balloons go. And we used to get the helium balloons to down Herald Square, and we simply would let them go. And they would have a tag at the bottom of each balloon, and if you found it in your backyard and brought that tag to Macy's, you'd get a special gift from Macy's.
CECIL BALDWIN, BYLINE: Why do we not still do this?
DEMUSZ: It sounds so surreal.
KULE: The advent of small aircraft has prevented us from continuing that tradition.
BALDWIN: Could you imagine somebody who was, like, on a cross-country flight in LA is like, I've got the tag.
EISENBERG: All right, Fran, what cartoon character will make its 39th appearance in the parade this year as a balloon, more than any character? Is it A - Mickey Mouse, B - Snoopy or C - Superman?
DEMUSZ: It has to be Snoopy, right? Is it Snoopy?
KULE: It has to be Snoopy because it's Snoopy. I think that's...
KULE: I'd have to say yes to that.
DEMUSZ: (Laughter) I love Snoopy.
EISENBERG: All right, this is your final question. Six hundred tension lines help shape what animated character's balloon to help him look square?
DEMUSZ: Is it SpongeBob? SpongeBob? He's square.
DEMUSZ: SpongeBob SquarePants. Is that...
KULE: SpongeBob SquarePants.
KULE: You know, the thing about balloons and helium balloons is, basically, they want to be round.
EISENBERG: Sure, they're balloons, right?
KULE: Yeah, most balloons are in fact round. And when you want to create square balloon, not easy, not easy. And all those lines in the balloon help it keep its shape. And it is...
EISENBERG: Six hundred?
KULE: Yeah. If you opened it up, you would be deeply frightened.
KULE: It's the worst spider web that you could ever imagine. And when you look inside, it is truly a massive web of lines going back and forth from corner to corner in order to keep that square shape. And then you've got his appendages just kind of flipping off to the side.
EISENBERG: So that is the most intricate one within the parade?
KULE: That and Thomas the Tank Engine were very, very difficult engineering feats.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah 'cause that has lots of squares.
KULE: A lot of squares, yeah.
DEMUSZ: Many shapes, yeah.
EISENBERG: Fran, well done.
DEMUSZ: Yes. Thank you.
KULE: Fran rocked it.
EISENBERG: Yeah, you did amazing.
DEMUSZ: Thank you.
EISENBERG: You win an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube. Thank you so much for playing.
DEMUSZ: Thanks for having me.
EISENBERG: And thanks for the amazing facts, all kinds of things I did not know and am fascinated by, by the executive producer, our Meet The Expert of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Amy Kule.
KULE: Thank you very much. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.
EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll find out what shocks Peter Sarsgaard and then we'll see if he can earn all those A's in his name. So stay tuned. This is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.