NEW YORK CITY — The city will decide Thursday morning if rains and gusting winds are too strong for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, a spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management said.
The balloons will not fly if the sustained winds are stronger than 23 miles-per-hour and the gusts are more than 34 miles-per-hour, OEM spokeswoman Nancy Greco said.
The National Weather Service is forecasting breezes of up to 38 mph, but Greco said they will base their decision on the real-time readings Thursday morning.
The NYPD is equipped with special devices that measure the real-time crosswind that sometimes comes down side streets, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday during an unrelated press conference.
“I believe we are very much on top of that as a city, particularly after we had the events a few years ago when it knocked over a lamp and two people were injured,” the police commissioner said Monday.
Kelly, who held the rope on a turkey balloon when he was a 17-year-old stock boy for the department store, said it was easy for things to get out of hand.
"You really had to hold on," he said. "It was a lot of fun. Also, in those days what happened is you're holding onto the rope and then some people let it go, it got out of their hands because of the upward pressure. So at the end there would just be a few people holding onto the balloon running back and forth across the street. Now, it's much more professional, obviously, much more scientific, but it was a lot of fun."
Kelly said that there are NYPD sergeants with wind-speed instruments assigned to each balloon and that the heights of the balloons can be adjusted for better control.
In 2005, high winds drove a giant M&M’s balloon into a light pole, hurting two people, according to reports.