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Gusty winds could ground Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons

Frigid temperatures to invade Northeast

(Brad Barket/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – While Central Florida can expect some beautiful and mild weather this Thanksgiving, some other parts of the country will be in a deep freeze.

Some cities in the Northeast -- including Boston, Philadelphia and New York City --will see their coldest Thanksgiving on record, which would cause problems for an iconic holiday tradition celebrated by many Americans.

Cities from Maine to Pennsylvania are expected to stay below freezing for much of Thanksgiving Day, just in time for New York's 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Although the frigid temperatures are not ideal for the 3.5 million parade spectators, the gusty winds could be an issue for one very large part of the parade: the balloons.

On a quiet calm day, each of the show-stopping characters requires about 90 handlers to control as they float about 50 feet in the air. With winds accompanying a strong cold front, some of the balloons might not be able to fly this Thanksgiving.

If wind speeds are determined to be too high, the iconic giant balloons will not be included in the parade because of safety concerns. Sustained winds need to remain below 23 mph and gusts less than 34 mph for the balloons to fly.

Some might think the tall buildings in the city could help block some of the wind, but the issue is between the buildings. Small wind tunnels could spin up between skyscrapers, increasing winds even further than forecast.

If the winds pass the threshold during the two and half mile parade route, the balloons may have to be pulled down close to the pavement to prevent injuries to those along the route.

In 1997, winds caused a major issue during the parade. The Barney balloon hit a wind tunnel and became difficult to control, prompting NYPD officers to stab it and pull it out of the parade.

Hopefully, Mother Nature will be kind to the balloons this year, and the annual Thanksgiving traditions will go without a hitch.


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