The True Stars Of The Famed Parade Inflated, Ready For ActionBy Elise Finch

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) — Kermit, Snoopy, the Kool-Aid man … they’re all there and ready to go.

Chopper 2 HD was over the Upper West Side where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons were inflated and on standby for Thursday’s big event.

Thousands of people were on hand getting a first look at the true stars of the parade. Organizers showed CBS 2’s Elise Finch and Lonnie Quinn how they get the elaborate creations to rise to the big occasion.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade One-Stop Shopping:

Guide To The Parade

Parade Through The Years

Parade Traffic & Transit

WCBS 880 Reporter Peter Haskell is on the Upper West Side

1010 WINS Reporter Kathleen Maloney talks with the biggest fans of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the kids

Spider-Man and Shrek are just a few of the high flying balloons that make the Thanksgiving Day Parade so much fun to watch.

“My favorite is the main character from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and my second favorite is “Hello Kitty,” one little girl told Finch.

“This is really down to an art and a science with us and we really capture these characters. I think they are the signature of the parade and in a funny way they are the source of fame of the parade,” said Robin Hall, who has run the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2001.

Each of the 48 balloons starts out as a colorful but flat piece of plastic-coated nylon. Finch watched as Spider-Man was worked on by a large crew. It takes 12,000 cubic feet of compressed helium before he can shoot his spider webs.

“With a crew of 160 people, broken into six teams, working on two streets, inflating all at the same time, so … pop, pop, pop, pop … four balloons up in one and a half hours,” Parade Studio VP John Piper told Finch.

Even the big kids have a favorite. Shelley Nieweg traveled to New York City from Missouri so she could share the experience with her two young daughters.

“I’ve watched these for years since I was a little. I still say my favorite is probably Spider-Man,” Nieweg said.

Added Upper West Side resident Ben Jacobs: “It’s a view of New York City that you don’t get to see very often. Everybody is walking around and enjoying themselves and not in a rush to go anywhere.”

And just in case you’re worried about the expected winds Thursday preventing the balloons from flying at their normal heights, the CBS 2 Weather Team is forecasting gusts of less than 15 mph, well below the threshold.

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