Balloons Fly at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Despite Concerns Over Wind Gusts

November 28, 2019 Updated: November 28, 2019

Balloons were flying at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Nov. 28 despite concerns about heavy gusts of wind.

The parade started at 9 a.m.

The NYPD said in a statement shortly after 7 a.m. that the balloons would fly, and the start of the parade featured a variety of balloons.

Astronaut Snoopy, a new version of a longtime parade favorite, was among the giant inflated characters leading the lineup.

“Let’s hope the wind stays calm,” police said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told followers on Twitter that the winds weren’t getting too bad. “Good News, New York City: the winds are holding,” he wrote, sharing a photograph that said, “The balloons will fly!”

Macy’s Vice President Susan Tercero confirmed about 30 minutes before the parade started that the balloons would fly, albeit at a lower level.

If wind speeds had reached dangerous levels, the 16 helium balloons—including Smokey Bear and Snoopy—could still have been taken out of the parade. The balloons have only been grounded once for weather-related reasons, in 1971.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Wimpy Kid balloon stands inflated in New York on Nov. 27, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The National Weather Service had projected sustained winds of up to 24 miles per hour with gusts to 40 miles per hour during the parade. City rules require balloons to be grounded if sustained winds exceed 23 miles per hour and gusts exceed 34 miles per hour.

The character balloons can go as high as 55 feet off the ground or as low as 10 feet.

The rules requiring them to be grounded in high-wind conditions came after a “Cat in the Hat” balloon was blown into a lamppost near Central Park in 1997, critically injuring a woman.

Revelers get ready before the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Nov. 28, 2019. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

According to Rakuten, the cost of the parade tops $10.4 million. The annual spectacle features roughly 1,000 clowns, 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers, a dozen marching bands, a slew of celebrities and musical groups, and Broadway performers.

As for the balloons, each uses 300,000 to 700,000 cubic feet of helium, making Macy’s the second-largest consumer of helium in the world behind the U.S. government.

Each balloon requires 50 to 90 volunteer handlers. They’re constructed at Macy’s Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey. The deflated balloons are transported into New York City and inflated before the parade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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