This is new to me.

From the article:

From 1928 until 1932, the giant character balloons were released at the end of the parade route. A New York Times article from 1928 noted how Sarg was on hand to direct the release of the balloons as they sailed off into the sky with “peculiar gyrations and almost life-like expressions.” A report from 1931 describes a blue hippopotamus being swept away “within inches of the Empire State Building” before heading west toward Brooklyn. A dragon balloon was spotted “sailing merrily over the Battery in the direction of Governors Island.” A release valve was added to the balloons to allow for a slow leak of air, allowing them to stay aloft for up to a week after the parade. In 1928, a character balloon was found in Greenville, Connecticut, nearly 160 miles from where it was originally released.