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Stamford Balloons Soar To New Heights, Kick Off Holiday Season

Kung Fu Panda kicks things off as he makes his debut in Stamford's UBS Parade Spectacular on Sunday afternoon. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street on Sunday afternoon. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
One of the giant balloons says hello to the crowd. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Tens of thousands line the streets of Stamford for Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Mr. Potato Head in Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Clifford the Big Red Dog in Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Lots of smiling faces watch Sunday's Thanksgiving Parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A group of clowns poses for a photo. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The crowd gets into the spirit of the parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Stamford Parade makes its way down Atlantic Street. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The review stand at Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Stamford Mayor David Martin waves to the crowd. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Motorcycle police from neighboring cities at Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Shrek gives a kiss to members of the crowd. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
MC Alan Kalter cheers a balloon in the parade, next to Mayor David R. Martin. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Two girls watch the parade and stay warm in fuzzy hats. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The Make-A-Wish float in Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Fred Flintstone greets the crowd at the Stamford Parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A clown plays with a young child at Sunday's Stamford Parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A group of Santa dancers performs for the judging stand at Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Santa's Elves at Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Santa greets the crowd at the close of Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Balloons are deflated at the end of Sunday's parade. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The end of the show, as balloons are deflated and rolled up. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

STAMFORD, Conn. — One of the country's largest helium parades steps off every year in Stamford on the Sunday before Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season. 

This year, a balloon of Kung Fu Panda made its debut, kicking off a new tradition in the event. This was the 22nd year the parade stepped off, with the giant balloons winding through the city's downtown. 

The event is the largest all year in Fairfield County, with crowds estimated in the tens of thousands. Spectators love the chance to get up-close views along the streets. 

Over 1,500 volunteers take part in the event, working as balloon handlers, clowns, crowd wranglers and more.

This year, it featured bands and floats as well as the 14 big balloons, including Shrek, Mr. Potato Head, Elmo and Clifford The Big Red Dog. Daniel Tiger of PBS Kids fame also made his debut this year.

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