Skip to comments.Gusty wind threatens Macy's balloons
Posted on 11/22/2006 4:39:09 PM PST by NormsRevenge
NEW YORK - As the giant Snoopy and Big Bird balloons began to inflate Wednesday, forecasts for powerful wind gusts threatened to keep them grounded during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade instead of floating through the corridors of Manhattan.
City guidelines, established after a woman was seriously injured by a wayward balloon in 1997, call for the event's trademark inflatable characters to be grounded if winds reach 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph.
The National Weather Service said wind gusts could reach 35 mph Thursday, and rain and temperatures in the 40s were forecast.
Seven newly installed wind-measuring devices along the parade route will help city officials decide before the parade starts at 9 a.m. whether conditions are safe enough for the balloons to fly.
"We are able to check every location and it will allow us to adjust how high or low to fly the balloons," said Jarrod Bernstein, a spokesman for the New York City Office of Emergency Management. "I'm extremely confident that we have done a lot of work to make this parade as safe as it possibly can be."
If the weather does not cooperate, parade organizers have some flexibility in flying the balloons. Some of the balloons could be tethered to vehicles and essentially act as floats. The parade will also have a handful of "balloonicles" balloons powered by motorized vehicles that are less susceptible to wind conditions.
The balloons have had a few accidents. Nine years ago, 45 mph winds sent a Cat in the Hat balloon careening into a metal pole during the parade, leaving a woman in a coma.
During last year's event, two sisters, ages 11 and 26, were hurt by debris when a giant M&M's balloon snagged a streetlight. A city report said the mishap was not caused by the weather, but rather discrepancies between parade guidelines and actual conditions along the route.
Organizers say the Macy's balloons were grounded only once in the parade's history in 1973 because of severe weather conditions.
Thirty-three floats, almost a dozen marching bands from across the country, and celebrities including Barry Manilow, Gloria Estefan and Ciara will participate in the parade, regardless of the weather.
John Piper, who directs the Macy's studio where they make the balloons and floats, said he is most excited for people to see a hot-air balloon created for this year's event, inspired by "Around the World in 80 Days"
"I think it's going to be just amazing," said Piper, who has been a part of the event for 26 years.
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Workers inflate a giant Snoopy balloon for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, November 22, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)
Peter Kagey works underneath the 'Energizer Bunny' balloon in preparation for the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006 in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Contestants eat turkeys in the Thanksgiving Invitational Turkey-Eating Championship in New York. While millions of Americans will sit down Thursday to enjoy a traditional turkey roast, eight self-confessed gluttons instead set out eat an entire 12-pound turkey as fast as possible.(AFP/Stan Honda)
There's no reason to watch unless the Balloons of Death are unleashed.
I wouldn't watch NASCAR except for the wrecks.
Keep us posted.
Each year, on the Friday following thanksgiving, they bring the Macy's parade baloons up to Springfield, Ma. AS dew years back, it was cold & gusty that Friday. Springfields route is not as well prepared, and several of the balloons tore on street lights and traffic lights.
If tomorrow is as gusty as it was today, I imagine they will have an exceedingly difficult time controlling the balloons.
I heard on a radio report that the woman who was put into a coma by the balloon in 1997, lived in the very apartment hit by Cory Liddles' plane earlier this year, just minutes before she got home. Just weird.
Balloons make thier way down Broadway during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, November 23, 2006. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)
Participants march during the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York November 23, 2006. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES)
Balloons make their way down Broadway during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, November 23, 2006. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)