NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A winter storm system heading towards the Tri-State area is causing concern for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The wet weather will be wrapped up by Thursday, but the winds will still be whipping.
According to New York City’s guidelines, no giant character balloons will be operated when there are sustained winds exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts in excess of 34 mph.
Thursday’s winds will be dangerously close to that threshold, meaning the big balloons may have to be grounded for the first time since 1971, CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported.
The city revised parade protocols after two balloon accidents.
In 1997, a Manhattan mom spent 23 days in a coma after the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a light pole at 72nd Street and Central Park West – sending part of the lamppost crashing down and injuring four people in all.
In 2005, two sisters visiting from Albany were injured in a similar accident near Times Square, involving the M&M’s balloon.
Now on a windy day, the character balloons have to be lowered or grounded to ensure people’s safety.
Some parade goers said they aren’t concerned either way.
“There are tens of thousands of people who practice and sing and dance and march and do all of these things so the parade itself is a lot bigger than the balloons,” Upper West Side resident Brian Sands said.
Others say they’ll have their fingers crossed.
“It’d be disappointing because it is tradition, you see it every year,” tourist Nikki Meek said.
Inflation of the giant balloons will start as planned at noon Wednesday.
People will be able to see the balloons up close from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue in spite of the stormy weather.
Their status in the parade will be determined on Thursday morning.
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