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Wind & The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

25 Nov 2013, 11:29 am

Think about it for a moment:  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  What do you picture?  Probably floats for some of them – but mainly giant balloons.


Feeling turkey-like on Thanksgiving?


There can be issues with that, however, and those are typically due to wind.

Why do we bring that up?  Well, there is a big storm headed toward the Northeast currently.  It’s a storm that will likely vacate New York City by kickoff for the Macy’s parade, but it will still likely leave some wind in its wake.

Looking online, I found the following quote on CBS’ website:


“Based on the city’s guidelines, no giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts exceeding 34 mph,” Macy’s said in a statement. “At this time, it is too early to make any determinations on the flight of the giant balloons.”


So there you go.  That clarifies things a bit, gives us a goal on our “hunt” for desirable forecast conditions.  We need to make sure there aren’t winds that are sustained at 23mph or greater.  Let’s begin…

Here is a look at forecasted winds for parade start time (9am eastern time):



That is certainly a large variance between coastal and inland winds, and just wind in general.  10mph is good – 25mph is bad.  High winds just seem to meander about.

The final verdict?  Keep tabs on the winds, and keep your fingers crossed!  It’d be sad to see a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with no balloons!


Forecast For Macy's Parade
Forecast For Macy's Parade


Here are some other interesting events that have happened at the Macy’s Parade.  You can click here to see the original website I’m quoting from:

1. Kathleen Caronna might want to think about buying a lucky horseshoe or something. First, in 1997, she was the victim of the infamous Cat in the Hat incident. When the Cat balloon got swept astray of the parade route by high winds, it ran into a lamp post and knocked it down – right in to Ms. Caronna, who was in a coma for a month afterward. She sued the city, Macy’s, and the lamp post manufacturer for $395 million and settled for an undisclosed amount. But that’s not all. In 2006, a plane carrying Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor crashed into the Belaire Apartments building. Caronna’s apartment was one of the ones hit, although she wasn’t home at the time. Still: weird.

2. In 1986, there were two incidents: a 61-year-old bagpiper had a fatal heart attack while marching in the parade, and a spectator fell out the fourth story window he was watching from and landed on someone below.

3. In 1942, the parade was cancelled and the balloons were reduced to rubber for the war efforts. The Red Cross War Fund of Greater New York received a check for $12 for the 650 pounds of rubber.

4. In 1957, a downpour caused the hat on the Popeye balloon to fill up with rain. The added weight made the balloon veer off course, and eventually the cap could hold no more water and dumped gallons and gallons on surprised spectators. I think it’s rather fitting for a man of the sea, myself.

5. In 1963, the parade was nearly cancelled because of JFK’s extremely recent death. It ended up carrying on, but all of the flags in the parade were adorned with seven-foot black streamers. Lyndon B. Johnson actually encouraged the company to go ahead with the show in an effort to try to help Americans through their grief.

6. In 1993, the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon hit a lamppost (dang lampposts) and basically exploded. Part of the lamppost fixture fell and broke the shoulder of an off-duty policeman standing below.

7. In 2006, two sisters were attacked by M&Ms. The ropes of the 515-pound balloon promoting the tasty chocolate morsels got caught up on – yes – a lamppost. Neither of the girls were hurt too badly – just some minor scrapes and bruises. In exchange for their ordeal, they received V.I.P. seats in the grandstand and a lifetime supply of M&Ms (that’s 384 packets every year, in case you’re curious).

8. In 1936, the Father Diedrich Knickerbocker balloon deflated when his nose sprung a leak.

9. In 1956, the parade was a total bust. Every single balloon (there were only three that year due to a helium shortage) got flattened by high winds.

10. Finally, 1995 was not the best year the parade ever had. A woman who was seven months pregnant was injured when a float knocked a traffic light into her. (Luckily, her injuries were minor.) Another lady fell through a subway grate. And a group of anti-fur protesters stripped down to nothing but Santa hats and tried to join the parade. They were arrested for public lewdness and indecent exposure.


We’ll be talking about it more on WeatherNation in the coming days, so stay tuned.

WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV

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