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Decision for balloons at Macy's Thanksgiving parade coming Thursday

By Clyde Hughes
Workers inflate the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid balloon as they prepare for the 93rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- New York City officials said they'll have to wait until Thursday to make a "game day" decision about whether the iconic, traditional balloons of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will fly this year.

The New York Police Department said the decision will depend on the wind gusts and forecast in the hours before the parade begins Thursday.

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Organizers have feared for days that strong winds might keep the balloons on the ground this year, but the prospect of such a safety move is nothing new.

"We had the same concerns last year," NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said. "It's going to be a game day decision.

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"We have supervisors assigned to each one of the 16 character balloons that are trained. We have seven anemometers throughout the route that will determine the wind gusts regarding the height of each one of the balloons."

Macy's said none of the large balloons will fly if sustained winds top 23 mph and gusts 34 mph.

"We are always attuned to weather conditions for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," the department store said. "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. The parade takes place rain or shine."

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Macy added that the balloons are designed to operate at different heights, so those in the parade route could change shortly before the event.

"The decision ... takes into account the weather data along the entire parade route and information from nearby weather stations."

New safety guidelines were introduced after incidents at the 1997 and 2005 parades.

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