The big balloons were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after all, but they stayed low

Nov 28, 2019, 11:00 AM
We're hoping Wednesday won't be the last time we see Snoopy this Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Timoth...
We're hoping Wednesday won't be the last time we see Snoopy this Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK CITY (CNN) — It was a close call, Charlie Brown. But Astronaut Snoopy and friends took flight — even if they were a little low.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off Thursday morning with handlers keeping close reins on the giant character balloons along the Manhattan route, despite concerns that high winds might have grounded them.

Handlers kept the giant balloons near the ground, making them more manageable in the wind.

One of the longest — a red Power Ranger — was held so low early in the parade that a leg scraped the street, and two workers carried a dangling hand to keep it from doing the same.

At least one of the 30 giant or novelty balloons — a polka-dotted and tentacled entry called “Love Flies Up to the Sky” — was pulled out of the lineup, NBC reported during its broadcast of the event. It wasn’t immediately clear why it was withdrawn.

High winds in New York City had put the balloons’ inclusion in doubt. They generally aren’t supposed to be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, according to city regulations.

The winds got close to that, as gusts of 32 mph were recorded in Central Park shortly before the event. As officials kept a close eye on the speeds, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced about 40 minutes before the parade’s start that the balloons were good to go.

Contingency plans

Contingency plans were in place. If the winds got too strong, workers could have diverted the balloons down side streets and deflated them, NYPD Chief Terence Monahan said.

Wind speeds could have been higher in some parts of the city because of what’s known as Bernoulli’s principle, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

“As air gets compressed between buildings, it goes faster,” he said.

Officials stayed hopeful

The parade balloons have only been grounded once, Monahan said. That was in 1971, Macy’s spokesman Orlando Veras said, when there was “extreme wind.”

Officials were trying not to have a repeat of 1997, when the Cat in the Hat balloon injured four people after intense winds forced it astray.

Balloons or no balloons, the 2019 parade was always slated to go on, with floats, bands and other performance groups.


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The big balloons were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after all, but they stayed low