cloudyn.png
Thursday December 12th, 2019 10:18PM

Wind could ground big balloons at NYC’s Thanksgiving parade

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Smokey Bear might feel like he’s battling Santa Ana winds — if he even gets a chance to fly.

New York City’s big Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place Thursday amid strong winds that could potentially ground the giant character balloons, which have caused mishaps and injuries in the past when gusts have blown them off course.

The New York City Police Department is monitoring wind gauges along the 2.5-mile (3.2-kilometer) parade route and will order the 16 helium-filled balloons to a lower altitude or have them removed entirely if wind speeds reach dangerous levels.

That’s only happened once, in 1971.

The National Weather Service is projecting sustained winds of up to 24 mph (39 kph) with gusts to 40 mph (64 kph) during the parade.

The iconic characters that soar between Manhattan skyscrapers will be grounded if sustained winds exceed 23 mph (37 kph) and gusts exceed 34 mph (54.7 kph) under city rules implemented after wind blew a “Cat in the Hat” balloon into a lamp post near Central Park in 1997, critically injuring a woman.

“It’ll be a game-day decision on what we’re going to do with the balloons,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at a Wednesday briefing on the police department's parade safety measures.

If they’re allowed to fly this year, the intensity of the wind will determine how high they soar. Each balloon has a distinct risk profile, which factors in its size and weight and details the optimal altitude for a given wind speed.

The character balloons can go as high as 55 feet (16 meters) off the ground and as low as 10 feet (3 meters), said Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison, who has the final say on whether the balloons fly.

If the wind picks up and handlers struggle to keep control of a balloon, potentially putting spectators in harm’s way, Harrison said it will be taken to a side street off the parade route and safely deflated.

“At the end of the day, public safety is paramount, and we want everybody to enjoy the event,” he said.

Strong winds were also a concern last year, but they ended up staying calm enough to let the balloons fly — albeit some at noticeably lower-than-usual heights. The outstretched hand of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” balloon, for one, was so low it appeared to hit some of his handlers on their wool cap-covered heads.

One bright spot in this year’s forecast: the temperature is expected to hit a high of about 53 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius).

Last year was one of the city’s coldest Thanksgivings in decades. A temperature of 21 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 degrees Celsius) at the start of the parade prompted spectators to bundle up in blankets and sleeping bags.

In addition to giant balloons of Snoopy, Spongebob, anti-wildfire warrior Smokey and others, the parade features about 8,000 marchers, performances from bands and singers such as Idina Menzel of “Frozen” fame, Kelly Rowland and Chicago, two-dozen floats and a finale with Santa Claus.

The NYPD will have thousands of officers stationed along the parade route. They include counterterrorism teams with long guns, plainclothes officers mixed in with the crowd and about three dozen explosive detection K-9s. The department also plans to fly a drone to monitor the parade route.

All spectators will be screened with metal detectors at security checkpoints. Certain areas near the start and finish are off-limits or will have space taken up by staging for NBC's live broadcast.

Police cars and sand-filled sanitation trucks are being positioned to stop vehicles from driving into the crowd and technology is being used to detect drones, which are illegal to fly over crowds in New York City.

Counterterrorism Chief James Waters said the technology detected several drones flying in the vicinity of the United Nations General Assembly gathering in September. They were all non-hostile, he said.

There are no known, credible threats to the city, police said.

A threat posted over the weekend on Reddit threatening to bomb Times Square was deemed not credible, the police department said, though it did increase counterterrorism deployments to the area out of what it said was an abundance of caution.

Big crowds are expected to line the parade route, which runs 46 blocks from the outskirts of Central Park to Macy’s flagship store in midtown Manhattan.

In the past, spectators have lined up as many as 15 deep in some places. In 2017, four activists briefly disrupted things when they jumped over barriers and sat down in the street to protest changes in U.S. immigration policy.

In recent years, though, wind has been the biggest threat.

In 2005, eight years after the “Cat and the Hat” went off course, an M&Ms balloon smacked into a lamp post 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.

__

Follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
5 dead, 3 hospitalized after fire at Minneapolis high-rise
Minneapolis fire officials say five people have died and three others are hospitalized after a fire swept through a high-rise apartment building
10:39AM ( 2 minutes ago )
US Marshals: Marine deserter charged in murder case captured
A U.S. marshal says a Marine deserter wanted in a fatal shooting has been arrested in Virginia after a lengthy search
10:23AM ( 19 minutes ago )
No more menthol cigarettes: New ban on tobacco, vape flavors
The governor of Massachusetts has signed into law a groundbreaking ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes
10:17AM ( 24 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Judiciary Committee set to take over Trump impeachment probe
House Judiciary Committee intends to bring in legal experts to examine the constitutional grounds for President Trump’s impeachment
10:24AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Klinsmann hired by Hertha Berlin 3 years after US dismissal
Jürgen Klinsmann is back in coaching for the first time since he was fired by the United States in 2016
10:20AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Massachusetts is first state to ban tobacco, vape flavors
The governor of Massachusetts has signed into law a groundbreaking ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes
10:13AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US economy grew at a moderate 2.1% annual rate last quarter
US economy grew at a moderate 2.1% annual rate in Q3, but slowdown is expected this quarter
9:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
Iran supreme leader claims protests a US-backed ‘conspiracy’
Iran’s supreme leader is claiming without evidence that recent protests across the Islamic Republic over government-set gasoline prices rising were part of a “conspiracy” involving the U.S.
9:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
Overnight clashes in Lebanon injure dozens as tensions rise
The Lebanese Red Cross says dozens of people were injured in overnight confrontations between supporters and opponents of the country’s president
8:42AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Stephen F. Austin stuns No. 1 Duke, 85-83 in OT
Nathan Bain hit a breakaway layup at the overtime buzzer and Stephen F. Austin stunned No. 1 Duke 85-83, ending the Blue Devils’ 150-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents
3:41AM ( 7 hours ago )
Albania death toll reaches 25 in quake aftermath
The death toll from a powerful earthquake in Albania has risen to 25 overnight as local and international rescue crews continue to search collapsed buildings for survivors
3:23AM ( 7 hours ago )
US criticizes China for abuses revealed by leaked cables
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a cache of leaked documents proves that Chinese authorities are engaged in massive and systemic repression of Muslims
2:50AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
No cash? Salvation Army now accepting mobile donations
Cashless shoppers have a new option to give to The Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign this year using their smartphone
12:33AM ( 10 hours ago )
One-two punch of storms threatens Thanksgiving travel in US
A one-two punch of storms is threatening Thanksgiving travel across a wide swath of the United States
9:28PM ( 13 hours ago )
Most people who fled California wildfire allowed to go home
Most of the thousands of people who fled a raging California wildfire in the mountains north of Santa Barbara were told they could return home as an approaching storm offered hope the flames would be doused
8:34PM ( 14 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
5 dead, 3 hospitalized after fire at Minneapolis high-rise
Minneapolis fire officials say five people have died and three others are hospitalized after a fire swept through a high-rise apartment building
10:39AM ( 2 minutes ago )
US Marshals: Marine deserter charged in murder case captured
A U.S. marshal says a Marine deserter wanted in a fatal shooting has been arrested in Virginia after a lengthy search
10:23AM ( 19 minutes ago )
No more menthol cigarettes: New ban on tobacco, vape flavors
The governor of Massachusetts has signed into law a groundbreaking ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes
10:17AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Marshals capture Marine deserter charged in murder case
A U.S. marshal says a Marine deserter wanted in a fatal shooting has been arrested in Virginia after a lengthy search
9:57AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Hawaii suspect faces hearing in cyberstalking of Utah family
U.S. prosecutors say a Hawaii man tormented a Utah family for over a year by sending more than 500 people to their house for unwanted services, including plumbers and prostitutes
9:53AM ( 48 minutes ago )