Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons Take Flight

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Macy’s announced Thursday that some of the biggest stars of its famous Thanksgiving Day Parade won’t be sitting on the sidelines.

Bad weather Wednesday had threatened to bring big gusts in the city and take the air right out of the parade’s famous balloons. The National Weather Service at one point this week said New York could see winds of up to 37 mph Thursday.

Every Thanksgiving morning, more than 50 million people tune in to watch New York’s famous parade as helium-filled versions of America’s favorite characters make the trek through Manhattan.

High winds have made navigating balloons down Broadway risky business. They become unstable and are prohibited in winds above 23 mph or gusts of 34 mph.

Macy’s began taking extra precautions to secure balloons after a 1997 incident involving The Cat in the Hat.

Forty-three mph winds blew the inflated feline into a lamppost. Parts of it seriously injured a woman below.

In 2005, two sisters were caught in a similar incident. Today, each balloon is walked by about 100 handlers, accompanied by one NYPD sergeant. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said officers are prepared.

“We’ve done a lot of training on this. We have experience doing it. We have a sergeant assigned to each balloon,” said Kelly.

This will be the parade’s 89th march. The only other time the balloons didn’t fly was in 1971 because of torrential rains.

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