NPR : News

Filed Under:

Fly On, Snoopy (And Friends): Macy's Parade Balloons Get All-Clear

Updated at 9:06 a.m. ET on Nov. 28.

The show will go on, giant balloons and all: Snoopy, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and 12 other massive balloons will fly in the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York police say.

Forecasts had called for winds close to the maximum that New York City will allow for the balloons — some as tall as a five-story building — to fly over the parade route.

The parade began at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West. Some 3 million spectators are braving the wintry weather to watch the event, which is being televised on NBC.

Our original post continues:

Based on past experience (which includes a near fatal 1997 Cat in the Hat incident), the city set limits – 23 mph sustained winds, or gusts of 34 mph – above which the balloons can't fly. "New York City could see sustained winds between 15 and 25 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph," said weather.com meteorologist Alan Raymond.

Only once in the annual parade's nearly nine decades, in 1971, have winds and bad weather grounded the balloons.

But that doesn't mean there haven't been other close calls, the kind that come with helium-filled behemoths each requiring dozens of rope-holding handlers to wrestle them along the 2.65-mile-long Manhattan parade route.

As The New York Times recounts: "Felix the Cat once caught fire. Bullwinkle sprung a leak, spewing a blast of helium from his nose yards from the finish line. And giant M&Ms, Sonic the Hedgehog and SpongeBob SquarePants have all crashed into objects on the street."

The most serious incident was in 1997, when the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a light pole in winds gusting above 40 mph. As The Times wrote back then:

"Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday that he had directed top aides and police officials to investigate whether tighter regulations should be applied to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, after an accident in which a six-story-high Cat in the Hat balloon knocked down part of a lamppost, injuring four spectators."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Biography Of Your Cubicle: How This Became The Modern Workplace

The office has long been seen as a symbol of boredom: It's a killer of spirits, a destroyer of spontaneity. But reviewer Rosecrans Baldwin says a new book brings out its entertaining side.
NPR

California Farmers Finagle A Fig For All Seasons

Two growers are competing to harvest fresh figs earlier and earlier in hopes of transforming the industry for year-round production. But some fig lovers say they can hold out for summer fruit.
WAMU 88.5

On National Mall, Native Americans Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Native Americans from across the country are visiting Washington this week to protest the construction of a controversial pipeline in the Midwest.
NPR

Life Outside The Fast Lane: Startups Wary Of Web Traffic Plan

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal would let Web companies pay for faster access. But entrepreneurs, like Reddit's co-founder, are wondering how they would have fared with such rules.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.