NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of volunteers took giant balloons on test flights Saturday at Citi Field in preparation for the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“I am so excited. I love Balloonfest. I really just feed off of all of the volunteers’ excitement,” production director Kathleen Wright said.

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Teams at the annual Balloonfest make sure the giant characters can withstand wind and other conditions before parade day.

“Winds obviously are something that we need to consider on the day. So we’ll work through it, we’ll see how the balloon reacts, and we’ll also create some non-traditional weather experiences just to push it to the limit to see how it reacts,” the parade’s executive producer Will Cross told CBS2’s John Elliott.

“We have someone that’s measuring the wind along the parade route. So they make sure they’re, in real time, checking what the wind speeds are,” Wright said.

The test run also helps first-time balloon handlers get the hang of things.

“Balloon-handling is not easy work, so these people got to make sure that they know how to do it, so we make sure we get them trained here today and know how to march these balloons down the route on Thanksgiving morning,” Wright said.

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About 200 volunteers arrived to help fly the balloons.

“I just love the atmosphere of being with all these kids when they are out watching the balloons, and they’re going ‘ooh’ and ‘aah.’ It’s just so much fun,” volunteer Linda Smigen said.

Balloonfest is all about learning how to control and manipulate the balloons in the wind, but it’s also very important for all of the volunteers to learn how to work together as a team.

“It’s just exciting. It’s like being a kid again,” volunteer Michelle Nickerson said.

They were testing six new balloons, including Ada Twist, Baby Yoda, Ronald McDonald, Pikachu and Eevee, Toni the Bandleader Bear and Tiptoe.

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Before they’re filled, they can weigh over 300 pounds. Of course, when they’re filled with helium, they’re lighter than air.

John Elliott