Forget the food. Will the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons fly?
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 the giant character balloons in tow 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.
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.
The Ronald McDonald balloon was pulled from the route because of a tear
Not all of the balloons completed the parade.
The Ronald McDonald balloon was pulled from the route because of a tear that deflated a leg and foot, Macy’s said.
“We pulled Ronald for aesthetic reasons, not due to an emergency or weather issue,” Macy’s spokesman Orlando Veras said.
“With a deflated leg and foot it was not representing the character appropriately. However, the balloon was fully capable of flying for the remainder of the parade.”
A few other, smaller balloons, including a tentacled, polka-dotted entry called “Love Flies Up to the Sky” from acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama, didn’t make it out of the staging area. The retailer said the balloons suffered stress and tears during overnight inflation efforts.
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.
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.
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia, Miguel Marquez, Julia Jones and Evan Simko-Bednarski contributed to this report.