Officials had high hopes that blustery winds wouldn’t stop 16 balloons from participating in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. It literally came down to the wire -- the New York Police Dept. asked balloon handlers to fly the balloons five feet lower than normal -- but in the end, all of the lovable blowups got their moment in the spotlight.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a little bit of mayhem along the way. Spider-Man, for one, was speared by a tree in Central Park and spent much of the parade with a deflated left arm -- but most of his floating friends escaped the unseasonably cold and windy weather unharmed.
Parade officials lined the route with wind gauges to ensure that no section had sustained winds in excess of 23 mph or gusts exceeding 34 mph. These limits stem from a 1997 incident when a Cat in the Hat balloon got caught in a strong breeze, hit a lamppost and rained debris on the crowd, fracturing a woman’s skull and leaving her in a coma for more than three weeks. Police famously stabbed a giant Barney balloon into a pile of purple rubber that same year after Barney also imperiled spectators in winds that exceeded 40 mph.
These days, some 100 handlers accompanied by an NYPD escort march each inflatable from 77th Street and Central Park West to Macy’s at Herald Square. In 2013, 30 floats, 1,600 cheerleaders and dancers, 900 clowns, and 11 marching bands joined them on the spectacular 2.5-mile promenade through New York City. The star-studded event, now in its 87th year, also boasted the likes of Joan Jett, Carrie Underwood, Jimmy Fallon and Kristin Chenoweth.
As has been the case every year since parade officials swapped real animals for blowups in 1927, the cherished balloons stole the show. The balloons were three to five stories tall and more than 30 feet wide, and the suspense of not knowing if the giant, helium-filled characters would be show up made them all the more spectacular. Have a look below: