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Macy's And NYPD Will Make Down-To-The-Wire Decision On Fate Of Big Thanksgiving Parade Balloons

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon being inflated in 2016
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The Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon being inflated in 2016 Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Here we are, Thanksgiving Eve, and the whole world is wondering: Will the big Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons be able to fly, as forecasts suggest powerful winds that would force organizers to ground the Elf on the Shelf and Chase from Paw Patrol? The answer is... we won't know until Thursday morning, so the balloon inflation fun will go on!

"We are always attuned to weather conditions for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We monitor the weather on a regular basis, but at this time, it is too early to make any determinations regarding the flight of the Parade's giant balloons, as we use on-the-scene data versus forecasts," Macy's spokesperson Orlando Veras said on Tuesday.

He also noted that Macy's has a licensed meteorologist on site, "who is also in direction communication with the National Weather Service," plus there are wind monitoring stations along the route.

The 16 big character balloons will be grounded if there are sustained winds of over 23 mph and wind gusts over 34 mph along the route. The current wind forecast isn't looking good:

The rule was put in place after four people were injured by an errant Cat in the Hat balloon that crashed into a Central Park West streetlamp during the 1997 parade; one woman was in a month-long coma. Macy's works with the NYPD to determine how the balloons fly (in some cases, handlers may keep balloons lower to the ground or they may devise strategies on how to cross intersections, which can be like wind tunnels).

NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison told the NY Times that the giant balloons' appearance will be a "game-day decision."

In other police news about the inflation and parade, there's "no specific, credible threat to public safety at this time," according to the NYPD. Outgoing Police Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement, "The annual balloon inflation and Thanksgiving Day Parade are among our city’s finest tradition. Thousands of highly-trained members of the NYPD – from patrol to our many specialized units – will be strategically deployed to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators. And while there are no specific, credible threats directed at these events, or at New York City in general, we're reminding everyone that public safety is a shared responsibility. If anyone sees or hears anything that makes them uncomfortable, they should tell a police officer, call 911, or contact our toll-free counterterrorism hotline at 888-NYC-SAFE.”

A team inflates a balloon for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
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Some notes about the balloon inflation from the police: "The balloon inflation will take place on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Spectators may enter the queue at West 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue. Large backpacks, coolers, alcoholic beverages, chairs and umbrellas are expressly prohibited and participants will be screened prior to entering the viewing route. Once screened, spectators will enter the inflation viewing area at West 74th Street and Central Park West. The balloon viewing path flows around the American Museum of Natural History. Spectators exit the viewing area at West 81st Street and Central Park West."

Here's a handy map of where to go! And don't worry about the helium shortage at all.

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