Thanksgiving Day Balloon Parade Jeopardized by High Wind Conditions

Image: Thanksgiving Day Balloon Parade Jeopardized by High Wind Conditions

Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013 09:22 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Predicted high winds during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade could ground the balloons, forcing SpongeBob, Snoopy, and Spider-Man to sit on the sidelines for the 87th annual event.

Parade officials told The New York Times that the big helium balloons will be grounded if the wind blows at 23 mph or more and gusts reach 34 mph. The guidelines were put in place after high winds caused a 1997 incident when a Cat in the Hat balloon hit a lamp post at West 72nd Street and Central Park West, knocking a portion down and injuring four spectators.

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After an investigation into the incident, officials established the wind stipulations for the large balloons.

The bad news is that the National Weather Service is predicting winds of at least 23 mph and gusts up to 45 mph, well above the parade's maximum limit. However, officials told the Times the final decision on the balloons will not be made until Thursday morning just hours before the parade starts.

New York City police Commissioner Ray Kelly told ABC News that there are things that can be done to limit the balloons' exposure to high winds, but parade officials simply will not know until they see the conditions Thanksgiving morning.

"We've done a lot of training on this," Kelly, who manned a turkey balloon at the parade during his teen years, told ABC. "The balloons as you know can be lowered to various heights. They can be lowered all the way down or they can be eliminated, not brought out at all."

If they can fly, Parade magazine said four new balloons are expected to join the Thanksgiving celebration, two of them familiar characters. Parade said SpongeBob and Snoopy were both getting makeovers. SpongeBob will be clutching a Santa Claus cap while Snoopy will have his best friend Woodstock piggybacking a ride with him.

Snoopy has had the longest Thanksgiving Day ride of all the balloon characters, appearing in the Macy's parade 37 times beginning in 1968. The Snoopy/Woodstock balloon would be the seventh rendition of the Peanuts character to make the event.

The two new balloon characters joining the parade, depending on wind conditions, will be Toothless from the movie "How to Train Your Dragon," and Fin and Jake from the Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time," Parade said.

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