Thanksgiving Parade: Balloons Come To Life Despite Uncertainty Of Flight

November 21, 2018 - 7:01 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — It’s an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons come alive the night before.

It was cold and windy Wednesday, but thousands of people gathered on the Upper West Side to see the spectacle.

“I from California so this is my first time and it’s pretty awesome,” one kid told WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg.

People come out every year to see crews bring to life classic favorites like Charlie Brown, the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Spongebob.

“It is really cool and I've only really ever seen on TV and I live here,” one viewer said of the tradition.

As Rosenberg said, it’s still unclear if the balloons will float. If winds reach 23 mph, some of the balloons will not be able to fly as high as they normally do. Some may even be completely grounded, which hasn’t happened since 1971.

“We need everybody New York City to think positive and keep those wind speeds down so we get those balloons up as high as they're supposed to be,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Flight guidelines put in place after the "Cat in the Hat" balloon crashed into a light pole onto spectators over two decades ago restrict flying if sustained winds are over 23 mph or if there are gusts over 30 mph. WCBS 880's Craig Allen says it could be a close call Thursday.

The show will go on no matter what Mother Nature bring with a new Tom Turkey kicking things off in grand fashion, says parade executive producer Susan Tercero.

"There's going to be a huge spectacle at the beginning of the parade so he's leading the charge for Thanksgiving this year. There's going to be a whole pyrotechnic display, cheerleaders, dancers all around him," Tercero said.

Anemometers along the parade route will continue to measure the wind speed into Thursday morning and only one thing will be certain: this could be the coldest Thanksgiving in a century.

Temperatures will be in the lower to mid-20s during the parade, which kicks off at 9 a.m., though the wind could make it more uncomfortable.

This year’s balloons included old classics and some new favorites such as Olaf from the movie “Frozen” and the pups from “Paw Patrol.”

Lucky viewers even got to see the new elves from Netflix’s “The Christmas Chronicles” and Goku from the “Dragon Ball Z” anime and manga series come to life.

Security was tight for the balloon inflations and will be even stricter during the parade Thursday morning.