It turned out to be a very happy Thanksgiving after all on the streets of Manhattan.
Despite down-to-the-wire concerns, whipping winds were not enough to stop the balloons from flying for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thousands braved cold and windy conditions to catch a glimpse of them.
Winds were clocked at 26 mph, so handlers hung on extra tight to watch Spider-Man, SpongeBob Squarepants, and other balloons both old and new. In all, the crowd was treated to 16 giant balloons.
The 87th annual parade officially got under way at 9 a.m. EST, when parade executive producer Amy Kule cut the ribbon, 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer reported. Celebration clowns on roller skates with balloons in their hands kept the crowd entertained, while the James Madison University marching band performed “My Favorite Things.”
Confetti flew as the crowd roared. At 76th Street, the crowd was five deep, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
And the balloons did not disappoint. Spider-Man got his arm slashed in the parade, but still flew high, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Among the new additions to the parade this year was a giant “Wizard of Oz” balloon, a 47-foot creation to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the movie.
Many balloons were monitored intersection by intersection for safety purposes, Haskell reported. But the handler for the Snoopy balloon told Lehpamer she was thrilled to be a part of the parade.
“It is so cool to watch people’s reactions from the parade and seeing them watching the parade – it’s such a great feeling. The little kids’ faces are awesome,” she said.
Many were thrilled at the opportunity to watch the parade – whether they were longtime veteran spectators or first-timers.
“I’ve been coming to this parade since I was born,” said Sarah Baglio of the Bronx. “It’s my favorite holiday, and my favorite day of the year to bring the kids to the parade.”
“Doing awesome,” added Sarah Clamp of Atlanta. “A little cold.”
The parade also featured the East Coast Marine Corps Composite Band, dazzling dancers, members of the Oneida Nation in full headdress, and giant clumps of seaweed strolling down Central Park West.
“Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve wanted to come see it live,” said Cindy Tschosik of Chicago.
The parade performers included Ariana Grande, Kellie Pickler, Richard Simmons, Cher Lloyd, and Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri – a native of Syracuse.
And of course, Santa Claus concluded the parade.
Officials said earlier that the inflatable creatures would not soar if sustained winds topped 23 mph and gusts exceeded 34 mph. That is because of city rules enacted after a Cat in the Hat balloon toppled into a light pole and seriously injured a spectator in 1997.
But police and parade officials gave the go-ahead for the balloons to fly around 8 a.m.
Balloons have only been grounded once in the history of the parade, in 1971.