NEW YORK—The beloved balloons flew, but lower than usual this year. New York’s annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolled on after an anxious weather watch.
The strong winds threatened to ground the giant inflated characters. But officials announced, less than an hour before parade start time, that the balloons could fly, providing they are kept low.
“It’s so fun and exciting to see all the floats,” said Joanna, 12.
Although challenging, the excited crowd’s cheers seemed to help the balloons make it through.
“[They’re] working so hard to carry the floats, because of the wind and they’re doing such a good job,” added Joanna.
The parade balloons may have been lowered, but the audience’s spirits were not. “This is a dream come true. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing,” said Jodi Tesoriero from Brooklyn.
Spectators lined up a half-dozen deep along the route on this gusty fall day, some even had been waiting since 5:30 a.m.
A “Green Eggs and Ham” balloon joined the lineup. Smokey the Bear returned for the first time since 1993, and spectators got to see new versions of favorites like Snoopy and SpongeBob SquarePants.
This year’s Snoopy celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
A smaller, new balloon from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s, “Love Flies Up to the Sky,” and two star-shaped balloons ultimately didn’t make the lineup because of tears and stress from the inflation process before the parade, Macy’s said. A giant Ronald McDonald balloon also tore before the parade and had to be pulled out of the parade midway through, the company said. The McDonald’s character had a visibly deflated leg.
The parade, a tradition that began in the 1920s with its marching bands, clowns, and performances was expected to draw large crowds in New York City and millions of television viewers across the country.
For some this is the first time, for others, watching the parade is a family tradition.
Across three generations, one family has been coming to the parade for 30 years.. The rain and cold weather didn’t stop them, and the wind could not either.
Macy’s spokesman Orlando Veras called the parade “a fantastic event despite these minor challenges.”
During the middle of the parade, the wind was 13 mph with gusts up to 32 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
City regulations require balloons to remain grounded if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. The balloons have been grounded only once for weather-related reasons, that was in 1971.
On Thursday, in a windy spot near the start of the 2.5-mile route, a Nutcracker balloon knocked into a handler, who fell down, but was able to recover and continued along. A Grinch balloon touched some trees as it passed a corner, drawing an “ooh!” from the crowd.
It was a first-time experience for Jodi and her family, for her it was all about sharing the moment with her daughter.
“My favorite is just being here with my daughter. That’s the best thing ever. This is the greatest Thanksgiving ever,” she said.
“A nice time to spend with our family,” Jodi added. “And it’s making great memories and just really enjoying being a New Yorker because we have the most amazing Thanksgiving in New York.”
The parade, one of the city’s most popular events, features about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, entertainers and marching bands, ending with an appearance from Santa Claus.
The character balloons can go as high as 55 feet off the ground and be as low as 10 feet.
The rules requiring them to be grounded in high winds came after a mishap with a “Cat in the Hat” balloon that blew into a lamppost near Central Park in 1997, critically injuring a woman.
In 2005, an M&M’s balloon smacked into a lamppost in Times Square, causing cuts and bruises to a woman in a wheelchair and her 11-year-old sister.
In 2017, a gust on an otherwise calm day sent a smaller balloon into a tree branch. That one popped and fell harmlessly onto the crowd.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From NTD News