The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons will fly, mayor says

Posted at 9:23 AM, Nov 28, 2019

It looks like Astronaut Snoopy will fly after all.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 9 a.m. ET Thursday, and leading up to that moment, there'd been a question about whether the 16 giant character balloons would be a part of the annual procession through Manhattan.

High winds have been blowing through New York City. The balloons cannot be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, according to city regulations.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to put the question to rest.

"Good News, New York City: The winds are holding and the ... balloons will FLY!" the mayor tweeted Thursday morning.

A day earlier, NYPD Chief Terence Monahan had said it would be a "game day decision."

Strong wind gusts

Wind gusts could reach up to around 40 mph on Thursday in New York City, according to the National Weather Service.

Sustained wind speed is expected to be around 20 mph, though it could be higher in parts of the city because of what's known as Bernoulli's principle, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

"As air gets compressed between buildings, it goes faster," he said.

Officials stayed hopeful

Macy's had planned to work Thursday morning with the NYPD to determine whether the balloons would fly, company spokesman Orlando Veras said. The parade balloons have only been grounded once, Monahan said. That was in 1971, Veras said, when there was "extreme wind."

Officials are trying not to have a repeat of 1997, when the Cat in the Hat balloon injured four people after intense winds forced it astray.

De Blasio was staying positive Wednesday.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed, I'm asking everyone -- keep the City of New York in your thoughts and prayers so the wind will stay calm and we will be able to let these balloons fly," he said during the balloon inflation.

To parade or not to parade

Wind or no wind, the parade was always slated to go on -- even if some of the larger balloons weren't in it.

"We absolutely encourage everybody to come out and enjoy what, without a doubt, is one of New York City's greatest family oriented traditions," outgoing NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said.

"We're going to have another great and very safe Thanksgiving in New York City," he said.