Will SpongeBob Soar? NYC Parade Waits on Winds
NEW YORK -- The fate of Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and Snoopy rests in the hands of the New York Police Department.
The 16 giant balloons that fly between Manhattan skyscrapers during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may be grounded if windy conditions from a storm that snarled holiday travel along the East Coast pick up Thursday morning - and the final determination will be made by the NYPD.
The iconic characters cannot lift off if sustained winds top 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, according to city rules enacted after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a spectator. Balloons have only been grounded once in the parade’s 87-year history, when bad weather kept them from flying in 1971.
On Wednesday, NYPD Chief of Patrol James Hall said the latest weather reports looked good for takeoff, stressing that balloon handlers were trained in maneuvering, lowering and deflating wayward inflatables if need be.
"If there’s something I see that I don’t like, I can say lower the balloon and I can say remove the balloon but, you know, I think really at the latest reports that we’ve gotten from the National Weather Service, I think we’re going to be in good shape tomorrow," he said.
Amy Kule, the parade’s executive producer, said the 3.5 million spectators who gather to watch the annual affair would see a parade that includes floats, 900 clowns and 40 smaller balloons, no matter what happens with the weather.