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Despite wind, balloons fly at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

Updated : 2018-11-23 08:03:18

Frigid weather and blustery winds didn't chill the enthusiasm at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, where spectators bundled up in blankets and sleeping bags and the giant character balloons flew lower than usual.

SpongeBob, Charlie Brown, the Grinch and other big balloons were cleared for takeoff just before Thursday's parade, although some floated at noticeably lower-than-usual heights above the people holding their tethers, like the outstretched hand of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" balloon that appeared to hit some of his handlers on their wool cap-covered heads.

The 21 degrees (minus 6 Celsius) at the start made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades, and the temperature warmed only a few degrees as the parade rolled along.

Officials had been ready to order the 16 helium-filled balloons to a lower altitude or removed entirely if sustained winds exceeded 23 mph (37 kph) and gusts exceeded 34 mph (54 kph). There have been mishaps and injuries in the past when gusts blew them off course.

Bystanders refused to let the cold put a damper on watching the parade, breaking out blankets and sleeping bags to watch the balloons, bands and floats go by.

The parade runs 46 blocks from the west side of Central Park to Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan.

The event features about 8,000 marchers, including high school bands from across the country, and two dozen floats, culminating with the arrival of Santa Claus.

The Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo, and Hugg balloons make their way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
The Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo, and Hugg balloons make their way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Maria Kent, foreground, makes her way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Maria Kent, foreground, makes her way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
The Goku balloon makes its way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
The Goku balloon makes its way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
People watch as the
People watch as the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Clowns wave to the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Clowns wave to the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A performer salutes the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A performer salutes the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Performers cheer in front of Macy's Tom Turkey float as they take part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Performers cheer in front of Macy's Tom Turkey float as they take part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
People try to stay warm as they wait for the start of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. The 21 degrees (-6 Celsius) at the start of the parade made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
People try to stay warm as they wait for the start of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. The 21 degrees (-6 Celsius) at the start of the parade made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
A nutcracker soldier balloon floats down 6th Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A nutcracker soldier balloon floats down 6th Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
People watch from their balconies as the Pillsbury Doughboy floats across Central Park South during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
People watch from their balconies as the Pillsbury Doughboy floats across Central Park South during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
People watch the floats from a balcony during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
People watch the floats from a balcony during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
The Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
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