Thanksgiving Day parade balloons in jeopardy with strong winds in forecast

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(CBS) — Every year, right before turkey time, millions gather to watch New York’s iconic Thanksgiving Day parade. But Americans who tune in for the celebrity performances, Broadway stars and signature balloons may be facing disappointment this year as the event could be without one of its most popular elements.

Strong winds and gusts threaten to ground SpongeBob, Snoopy and more than a dozen other giant character balloons that feature in the parade. 

During the 1997 parade, strong winds caused the Cat in the Hat balloon to knock down a lamppost, injuring four spectators. After that, regulations were put in place to avoid future weather-related injuries. City rules now state that the balloons can’t fly if sustained winds exceed 23 mph or if wind gusts are over 34 mph.

CBS News weather contributor Jeff Berardelli reports that this year there could be wind gusts of 40 mph on Thursday, which would exceed the regulations.

This wouldn’t be the first time the balloons are forced to stay on the ground. In 1971, the balloons were not able to fly due to inclement weather.

There were similar concerns about wind ahead of last year’s parade, but in the end the balloons were permitted to fly.

First published on November 25, 2019 / 12:30 PM

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