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Balloons cleared to fly in iconic NYC Thanksgiving Day parade

Astronaut Snoopy balloon hovers above the crowd during the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan,New York, U.S., November 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

(Reuters) – Thanksgiving Day in New York City started with something many New Yorkers and visitors will be grateful for: the giant balloons in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade were given the all clear to fly after fears strong winds could ground them.

“Good News, New York City: the winds are holding and the #MacysThanksgivingDayParade balloons will FLY!,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet early on Thursday.

Concerns had been mounting earlier in the week over a forecast of strong winds on Thanksgiving Day.

City regulations that were put in place after a Cat in the Hat balloon knocked down a lamp post in 1997, injuring four spectators, say the inflatable characters must be kept out of the sky sustained winds top 23 miles per hour (37 km per hour), and gusts exceed 34 mph (54 kph).

Many of the massive helium-inflated balloons require up to 90 handlers and can be challenging to maneuver even in calm weather.

The giant balloons, including a 49-feet (15-m) tall Snoopy beagle decked out in astronaut gear to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, and numerous floats will parade down Manhattan’s 6th Avenue during the iconic celebration that began in the 1920s.

Thousands of onlookers lined the city streets to watch the 93rd parade with its marching bands, clowns and performances expected to attract millions of viewers across the country.

In Philadelphia, local media reported early Thursday morning that high winds had forced authorities to ground balloons for the city’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Marguerita Choy