Strong winds could ground largest Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons
November 28, 2013 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as much a holiday tradition as turkey, football and dinner table debates, celebrates its 87th anniversary with a host of new floats and balloons that will begin to make their way down New York City streets Thanksgiving morning. Finn & Jake from the popular Cartoon Network show "Adventure Time" will appear this year. The balloon is three stories tall and requires 90 balloon handlers. Take a look back at the other star-studded balloons that have included more than 100 of the worlds most famous characters.
Finn & Jake: 2013
Felix the Cat: 1927
Mickey Mouse: 1934
Officer SOS 13: 1937
Eddie Cantor: 1940
Uncle Sam: 1940
Elf gnome: 1947
Mighty Mouse: 1951
Donald Duck: 1962
Sinclair Oil Dinosaur: 1963
Aviator Snoopy: 1968
Kermit the Frog: 1977
Woody Woodpecker: 1982
Bugs Bunny: 1989
Bart Simpson: 1990
Izzy the 1996 Atlanta Olympics mascot: 1993
Blues Clues: 1999
Ask Jeeves: 2000
SpongeBob SquarePants: 2004
Scooby Doo: 2005
Buzz Lightyear: 2008
Pillsbury Doughboy: 2009
Tim Burton's "B": 2011
Elf on the Shelf: 2012
Toothless from "How to train your dragon": 2013
- NEW: The official who decides whether the balloons will fly is optimistic they will
- High winds could force the largest balloons out of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Past incidents in high winds have caused injury when balloons hit lamposts
(CNN) -- A blustery Thursday could mean more than canceled flights and frustrated travelers -- it could result in the grounding of the biggest attractions at the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
Winds greater than 23 mph and gusts of 34 mph would keep SpongeBob, Snoopy, Pikachu and the rest of Macy's helium-packed behemoths firmly on the ground.
New York officials set guidelines on balloon size and wind speeds after a Cat in the Hat balloon struck a lamp post on Central Park West in 1997, knocking loose a piece and injuring four people, including a woman who spent more than three weeks in a coma. In 2005, an M&M balloon knocked a light pole on two sisters.
"Winds are going to be critical," said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.
Weather threatens to ground parade
Parade coming with a side of controversy
Thursday's forecast calls for northwest winds in the 14 to 24 mph range, with gusts up to 40 mph, said Vaccaro.
But at least one official was optimistic the balloons would be allowed to fly.
"It looks good. It looks very good," said New York Police Department Patrol Chief James Hall, who will make the call.
The decision on floating the 16 giant balloons will be made early Thursday, according to a statement from Macy's: "A determination is made on their inclusion based on real-time weather data on parade morning and not forecasts, so it's not helpful to discuss it now."
Others -- from New York's police commissioner to travelers visiting the city for the parade -- were discussing it.
"We came all the way from Puerto Rico to see the parade," Jose Ramirez, standing with his sons on the parade route, told CNN. "It would be a disappointment if we can't see the balloons."
One holiday tradition related to the Thanksgiving Day Parade will go on as planned -- the parade-eve inflating of balloons in the vicinity of the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
"The balloons aren't about Thanksgiving," said Michellian Findley. "It's about fellowship, family and just being thankful."
Only in New York would each giant parade balloon be assigned a police sergeant as an escort to measure wind speed and conditions.
"We've had several meetings," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "We have instruments that give us the crosswind measurements. We've done a lot of training on this."
Messy Thanksgiving travel
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
My mother, brother, cousin and I gathered in my 87-year-old grandmother's room at the nursing home. We knew it would be one of the last times we would see her alive.
November 28, 2013 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Jamie Ordonez is one of the lucky retail employees who will enjoy Thanksgiving Day without having to rush to work. But a brother-in-law isn't as lucky.
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Everything you need to know about this November holiday.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 0742 GMT (1542 HKT)
This Thanksgiving, a battle is brewing. A life-and-death contest orchestrated at the highest levels of power.
November 14, 2013 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year, with tens of millions expected to hit the road over the extended four-day weekend.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 0534 GMT (1334 HKT)
Along a pastoral lane at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate sits a sizable wooden pen built specifically to house the two turkeys that will be "pardoned" at the White House on Wednesday.
We're sharing our time-tested Thanksgiving hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love.
November 21, 2012 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Find out what celebrities are doing this Thanksgiving.
November 21, 2012 -- Updated 1705 GMT (0105 HKT)
Real Simple asked three creative geniuses to come up with beautiful, unusual displays that anyone can successfully replicate.
November 21, 2013 -- Updated 1351 GMT (2151 HKT)
Martha Stewart lends some great ideas for the center of your Thanksgiving table.
November 21, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The dining room has had a difficult few decades. Here are some top tips for setting the scene and the table for your biggest feast of the year.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Here's some background information about Thanksgiving Day, celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.
November 21, 2012 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
On a clear dry day, driving 55 mph, it takes long-haul trucker Camille Pask the length of three football fields to stop her fully loaded rig.
November 22, 2012 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
Judy Warzenski didn't realize how bad her father, Donald's, memory had gotten until he turned to her sister Joyce and asked, "Where's the girl who was sitting next to you?"
November 19, 2012 -- Updated 1110 GMT (1910 HKT)
These clever strategies will help you handle Thanksgiving with less stress and more sanity.
November 19, 2012 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
What topics do you avoid over dinner? How do you coordinate visiting all of your relatives? Real Simple breaks it down.
Gratitude is the watchword, and it's incredibly easy to lose sight of that while you're bogged down in the details of serving a dinner that packs a certain amount of expectation. So how about giving yourself a break?