The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York has a long (and creepy) history of featuring giant, crowd-pleasing balloons. But not this year, maybe, if the winds from an East Coast storm get too gusty. Officials won't make the call until the last minute, but the weather forecast puts the iconic parade right in the danger zone.
After a 1997 balloon crash on a windy parade day left one woman seriously injured, the city enacted a rule barring balloons from the parade if sustained winds reach 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. Current forecasts predict sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts of 36 mph. Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras told the AP that parade officials won't make a decision on the balloons until tomorrow morning: "On Thanksgiving morning, Macy's works closely with the NYPD, who, based on real time weather data and the official regulations, determine if the balloons will fly and at what heights," he said.
Even if the winds are too gusty for the larger balloons waiting in the wings of this year's parade, the event might not be completely balloon-free. As NBC New York explains, there are larger and smaller balloons in the Macy's parade, and the smaller ones might be able to go ahead and float down the route anyway. Officials might also allow some larger balloons to fly at a lower height than originally planned.
Parade workers inflate the balloons on Wednesday evening in preparation for the Thanksgiving parade. If officials end up grounding them, it'd be for just the second time in the parade's history: bad weather created a balloon-less event in 1971.
Thanksgiving Morning Update: Parade organizers announced on Thursday morning that they have been given the go-ahead to float the balloons, although at a limited height. The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. ET.