November 29, 2013 in Nation/World

Balloons take flight at Macy’s parade despite wind

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A giant Uncle Sam balloon is marched down Sixth Avenue during the 87th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Revelers at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gave thanks for the giant balloons that flew above the city streets Thursday after a blustery storm accompanied by high winds nearly grounded them for only the second time in the parade’s 87-year history.

“The balloons are the best part,” 11-year-old Matthew Ragbe said as he watched them leave their launch pads on 77th Street and turn the corner to face the crowds of parade-goers, many of whom waited hours to secure a good viewing spot.

The tens of thousands of people lining the parade route were not disheartened by freezing temperatures or the drama over whether Spider-Man, Julius, Snoopy and SpongeBob SquarePants would make their scheduled appearances along with a dozen other puffed-up sky-bound creatures.

“We thought they’d find a way to pull it off,” said parade-goer John Mispagel, of San Jose, Calif.

Dozens of balloon handlers kept a tight grip on their inflated characters, keeping them close to the ground to fight winds that reached the mid-20 mph range.

Caution was necessary to prevent a recurrence of the kind of high-wind accident that crashed a Cat in the Hat balloon into a light pole in 1997, seriously injuring a spectator.

This year’s parade largely went off without a hitch, though Sonic the Hedgehog got briefly hung up in the branches of a tree and a spinning dreidel balloon became temporarily deflated on a float meant to mark the start of Hanukkah, which fell on Thanksgiving for the first time in centuries.

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