NEW YORK -- As preparations are underway for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, organizers will keep a close eye on the forecast to determine whether Mother Nature will impact some of the crowd’s favorite spectacles.
The parade is expected to feature 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, an array of musical stars, and Santa Claus, but organizers say whether the crowd will see all the slated thrills will depend on how windy conditions are on November 25.
A series of incidents involving some of the parade’s largest balloons has forced officials over the years to add restrictions on when the giant inflatables have to be removed from the route.
"Should sustained wind speeds exceed 23 mph and wind gusts exceed 34 mph, on the route, then the giant balloons would not join the parade," Orlando Veras, a spokesperson for Macy’s, said in a statement.
The retailer says they have a licensed meteorologist and several weather monitoring stations on the route that give organizers the conditions on what participants will experience.
Orlando said, on the morning of the parade, Macy’s and the New York Police Department will make the final call as to which of the balloons can take part in the 2 1/2-mile route through Manhattan.
Despite possible changes to the lineup, the majority of the parade has marched through rain, snow, sleet and ice since the tradition began in 1924.
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Accidents of the past
Temperatures on a typical parade day usually start out in the upper 30s, and highs make it to around 50 degrees, but due to the jet stream’s constantly changing pattern, meteorologists say it’s not uncommon to see a storm system bring rain, snow and even wind into the Big Apple.
Despite varying impacts from the weather, organizers say it’s the winds that play havoc with the giant helium-filled balloons.
There have been at least three Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, where handlers lost control of the massive inflatables, injuring spectators.
Back in 1993, winds caused Sonic the Hedgehog to veer off course and crash into a lamppost. The Associated Press reported debris injured an off-duty police officer and a 10-year-old girl.
The most notable wind event in the parade’s recent history happened in 1997. Many of the parade’s giant balloons were damaged or destroyed by winds gusts of 40 mph along the parade route. At least four people were injured when The Cat in the Hat balloon crashed into a light pole, sending it falling into a group of paradegoers, the AP reported.
The most recent case of a balloon going off-course was back in 2005. According to FOX News, the famous "M&M’s Chocolate Candies" balloon became entangled with a light pole, causing part of it to fall, injuring a woman and a child.
2021 lineup announced
Macy’s says some of the pre-pandemic traditions are returning to the 95th annual parade.
Spectators will once again be allowed along the parade route to cheer on their favorite spectacles.
Organizers say there will be several new balloons for both paradegoers and viewers at home to be on the lookout for.
A few of the new giant balloons include Ada Twist, Ronald McDonald, Baby Yoda and Pokémon characters.
"For our 95th celebration, Macy’s has created a spectacle to remember featuring a dazzling array of high-flying balloons, animated floats and incredible performers," said Will Coss, executive producer of the parade.
New floats to be on the lookout include the Celebration Gator by Louisiana Office of Tourism; Gravy Pirates by HEINZ; and Magic Meets the Sea by Disney Cruise Line.
The balloons and floats will be joined by more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands and a host of musical stars.
Come rain or shine, the 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off at 9:00 A.M on November 25.