November 28, 2013 in Nation/World

Macy’s parade balloons will likely fly

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

The Macy’s parade Snoopy balloon is partially inflated on Wednesday. The characters won’t be allowed to lift off if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts top 34 mph.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – The weather was looking up Wednesday for Snoopy, Spidey and the rest of the giant balloons that take to the skies for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The New York Police Department official who decides whether the balloons are allowed to fly said Wednesday he was optimistic that nasty weather will clear up in time for the iconic inflatables to get airborne, though a final determination will be made this morning.

“It looks good,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol James Hall, attending an inspection of the 16 large balloons including Snoopy, Spider-Man and SpongeBob SquarePants that are a hallmark of the annual parade. “It looks very good.”

A storm bringing the East Coast a messy mix of snow, rain and wind could still ground the giant balloons. The iconic characters that soar between the Manhattan skyscrapers every year cannot lift off today if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, according to city rules enacted after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a woman spectator.

Current forecasts call for sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts of 36 mph.

Hall said each balloon will be manned today by between 30 and 60 handlers who train throughout the year in large parking lots throughout New York and New Jersey.

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