UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — The NYPD has officially said the famous giant balloons will be flying in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade today, despite forecasted strong winds.
Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison made the announcement on the PIX11 Morning News just minutes after the NYPD tweeted, "Hey Astronaut Snoopy, we are clear for take-off!"
Parade officials and the New York Police Department will continue keeping an eye on wind gauges along the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) parade route that snakes through Manhattan, and adjust the heights of balloons as needed.
If wind speeds reach dangerous levels, the 16 helium balloons — including Smokey Bear and Snoopy — could be brought down to float at a lower level or taken out of the parade.
The National Weather Service projected sustained winds of up to 24 mph (39 kph) with gusts to 40 mph (64 kph) during the parade.
City rules require balloons to be grounded if sustained winds exceed 23 mph (37 kph) and gusts exceed 34 mph (55 kph).
The parade, one of the city’s most popular events, features about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, and marching bands, ending with an appearance from Santa Claus.
Among the performers scheduled for this year are actor Billy Porter of “Pose,” and singers Celine Dion, Ciara, Kelly Rowland and Idina Menzel.
The character balloons can go as high as 55 feet (16 meters) off the ground and as low as 10 feet (3 meters).
The rules requiring them to be grounded in high-wind conditions came after wind blew a “Cat in the Hat” balloon into a lamppost near Central Park in 1997, critically injuring a woman.
In 2005, eight years after the “Cat and the Hat” went off course, an M&M’s balloon smacked into a lamppost in Times Square, causing cuts and bruises to a woman in a wheelchair and her 11-year-old sister.
In 2017, a gust on an otherwise calm day sent a smaller balloon into a tree branch. That one popped and fell harmlessly onto the crowd.