The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a long-standing holiday tradition in New York City. For 93 years, it has marched rain or shine. Nevertheless, the weather has affected the event several times over the years.
Famous for its giant character balloons, high winds are the main weather challenge for the parade. According to city guidelines, the multi-story balloons cannot fly if there are sustained winds in excess of 23 mph or gusts higher than 34 mph. These regulations were put in place following a 1997 incident where gusty winds sent the “Cat in the Hat” balloon careening into a light post, which caused debris to fall on and injure spectators.
The only time the balloons were grounded for the entire parade was in 1971, when torrential rain swept across the city. In 1989, a snowstorm brought the Big Apple a white Thanksgiving and the “Snoopy” and “Bugs Bunny” balloons had to be pulled from the parade because of damage from high winds.
This year, the wind could potentially be a problem again. Gusts are forecast to be between 30 and 40 mph during the parade hours. City officials say they will wait to see what conditions are actually like on the day before they make any decisions about grounding or limiting the balloons.
Marching from West 77th Street to West 34th Street in Manhattan, the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is scheduled to begin at 9 AM on Thursday morning.