Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloons approved for takeoff, must fly low, NYPD says


NYC, New York (ABC NEWS/WTNH) — With gusty winds forecast for New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, it was unclear whether Astronaut Snoopy, Smokey Bear, Olaf and the other 13 character balloons would be able to take flight during the Macy’s 93rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Wednesday morning, NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said, “We’re going to call a lot of audibles [Thursday].”

Depending on conditions, it is possible that some of balloons will get the OK to fly, while others will not. For example, SpongeBob, being the largest, would get a different consideration than one of the smaller balloons.

But when Thursday morning came, the NYPD took to Twitter to say the balloons were clear to fly.

During the parade, sustained winds up to 25 mph and wind gusts up to 40 mph are possible between the buildings in New York City.

A specially-trained police sergeant is assigned to each of the 16 giant character balloons with an anemometer to help determine the safest course in real-time.

At full height, the balloons fly at 55 feet. They can be lowered to 10 feet if the winds are too strong.

Bad weather has only kept the Macy’s balloons from flying once — in 1971.

Thousands of police officers will be on duty for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, despite the absence of a credible threat.

“There is no specific, credible threat to public safety at this time,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Wednesday as he outlined a security plan that includes heavily armed officers, explosive detection dogs, radiation detectors and drone interdiction.

Millions of spectators who line the route can “rest assured” they will be safe, Chief of Department Terrance Monahan said.

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