NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The big balloons featured every year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade could be grounded this year.
Parade officials are keeping a close eye on the forecast. Specifically, the wind.
The balloons have been a staple in the annual parade since 1927.
Sixteen character balloons are set to fly this year.
Balloons are grounded when sustained winds hit 23 mph with gusts of 34 mph.
“We had the same concerns last year, it’s going to be a game day decision,” NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said.
Parade officials will decide Thanksgiving morning if they’ll be pulled from the lineup. If they are, it will be only the second times the balloons were grounded. The only other time it has happened was back in 1971 because of bad weather.
The NYPD has a big say in the matter and says weather instruments placed strategically along the route will help them and Macy’s officials figure it out.
“We have supervisors assigned to each one of the 16 character balloons that are trained, we have seven anemometers throughout the route that will determine the wind gusts regarding the height of each one of the balloons.”
In 1997, four people were hurt when the cat in the hat balloon whipped around and snapped a light pole. One woman spent a month in a coma.
In 2005, an M&M balloon also snagged a pole, the pieces fell on top of two sisters visiting from Albany.
2006 was another windy year, “Barney” never made it to Herald Square. Instead, it was taken out by the NYPD when the cords got wrapped around light posts and the balloon threatened to take off.
Ahead of this year’s parade, the newest balloons like “Astronaut Snoopy” had a test run at the Meadowlands, giving balloon crews the chance to feel out any flaws.
“So that gives the pilot an opportunity to see, depending on what the wind pattern would be, where they need to place their handlers or have them raise up or pull down in order to keep him flying in the parade route and looking great,” John Piper, vice president of production for Macy’s parade studio said.