The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons for 2019 have almost never flown

Huge character balloons became an integral part of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in 1927, when silent cartoon cat Felix the Cat conquered the skies over New York’s west side for the first time. These days, floating replicas of everyone, from Snoopy to Goku to Pillsbury Doughboy, pop up between the poses and musical Broadway pop-ups.

But this year the fleet was almost on the ground. Just a few hours before the show, the Thanksgiving 2019 parade, broadcast on NBC at 9:00 am EST, was held without a single balloon.

The potential rain on this year’s parade was actually a wind problem. Macy’s Thanksgiving balloons are about 30 to 70 meters long. The Smokey the Bear is the shortest balloon with a height of 30 meters. Due to their size, the New York City Guidelines prevent the department store chain from flying the balloons in continuous wind conditions in excess of 37 km / h and gusts exceeding 40 km / h on the line.

Christmas Balloon (1940) Courtesy of Macy

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service reported wind speeds of around 23 km / h and gusts of 40 km / h, which allowed the parade organizers to hoist gigantic versions of the Red Power Ranger and the Aflac Duck on 6th Avenue. For safety reasons, most balloons hover about 15 to 20 feet in the air, according to NYPD.

A balloonless parade is a rare opportunity. The celebration in 2019 would have been the first time that Macy’s set the balloons on earth since 1971, when a Northern European people ravaged the festivities (and travel plans) along the East Coast. Macy’s canceled the parade between 1942 and 1944 due to lack of rubber and helium during the Second World War. The company would go so far as to scrap the balloons and donate over 650 pounds of gum for the war effort.

Since an incident in 1997, when winds knocked a cat and hat off course and four people were injured, the authorities took no chances. Despite early predictions about the grounding of the balloons, a representative of Macy said that the call would not be made until Thursday morning by NYPD and the officials of the business.

“Each (balloon) is designed to fly at different heights and angles, depending on the shape and scale and the exact wind conditions along the route,” the representative told Polygon. “We have a number of weather operations, including continuous on-site monitoring by an approved meteorologist who is also in direct contact with the National Meteorological Service. There are several wind measurement stations along the parade route. In addition, the assistant of each giant balloon carries an anemometer, which is also monitored by a NYPD representative. “

The parade of 2019 brings a handful of new balloons in addition to the classic cast. Attractions included a twofer from SpongeBob and Gary the Snail; a swimmer born of Netflix’s new, animated Dr. Seuss series Green Eggs and Ham was inspired; Astronaut Snoopy, the eighth version of the character seen in the parade (in honor of the 1969 moon landing and, in secret, the Apple TV Plus character Snoopy in Space); and “Love Flies Up In The Sky,” a giant solar balloon designed by legendary artist Yayoi Kusama and adorned with 300 hand-painted dots.

All Thanksgiving parade balloons from Macy take part in test flights and give viewers the opportunity to see their fame in the weeks leading up to the big day. Whether or not they attended the parade in 2019, thanks to the on-site photographers, balloon fans could see the newbies very closely.

Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.

Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.

Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.

Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for Macy’s Inc.

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