The 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are at risk of being grounded due to dangerously high winds. The NYPD will be monitoring the wind speed to determine if they need to pull the plug on the large balloons.
The Daily Mail says that the NYPD will be using seven anemometers measuring wind speed all throughout the parade route to alert officials when there are gusts of 23 mph, at which time they will have to lower the large balloons. At 34 mph, the cartoon balloons will be grounded.
The New York City forecast currently calls for 30 mph winds and temperatures in the low to mid-20s.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison shared the safety plans in a press conference on Wednesday.
“If we have to call an audible on the day of and make an adjustment, we’ll do so. Thirty-four mile per hour wind gusts is when we say, ‘OK, we gotta bring it all the way down to the ground.”’
Each balloon has different grounding requirements based on size and surface area, and how high it can fly depending on the wind speed. At this time 16 balloons are supposed to fly throughout the parade route as long as the wind speed stays under control.
New York City in for a frigid Thanksgiving with gusty winds for iconic Macy's Parade – NY Daily News https://t.co/l5XZ6V93uF
— Eddie Vega (@VegaWire) November 22, 2018
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been held since 1924, and the large balloons have been the stars of the parade since 1931. Only once since 1931 have the balloons been grounded, and that was in 1971 when the winds topped out at 45 mph.
But 1997 was the year that most people remember as disaster struck. It was a windy day, and so the NYPD had the balloons lowered, but even still, the Cat In The Hat balloon knocked down a lamppost at 36th street along the parade route. A spectator was knocked to the ground and suffered a fractured skull, leaving her in a coma for a month.
Authorities say that high winds can also tear the balloons, causing them to deflate rapidly.
“Elsewhere on the 1997 parade route, Barney The Purple Dinosaur went rogue, weaving erratically over the crowd and striking a lamp post, ripping a hole in the balloon.”
Police were able to help those carrying Barney maneuver the half-inflated balloon to the ground, but the children along the parade route were traumatized by the seemingly half-dead dinosaur.
The parade, which will be televised live on NBC, will feature several new balloons this year including Fleck, Bjorn, JoJo, and Hugg, four elves from the Netflix film The Christmas Chronicles.