Not that many good reasons to spend expensive time in dirty, unruly New York City these days. Bring back the rule of Rudy Giuliani. But one of the remaining reasons is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Television is nice and certainly keeps you warmer.
But you simply cannot get a true sense of the gargantuan scale of those immense balloons slowly wandering down Broadway from Central Park West unless you’re there in person on the sidewalk looking straight up and feeling the sun blotted out as balloon after balloon pass by.
Controlled might be the wrong word. But these iconic cartoon creatures are held down by dozens of handlers each, clinging to cables attached to parts of the stunning creatures drifting above.
They’re trying to coordinate their movements on the pavement from where they need to go down the street against sometimes where the balloons want to go. The last thing anyone wants is for a four-story Charlie Brown to drift off over New Jersey.
Balloon-handling could be a real problem tomorrow in what is predicted to be the coldest Macy’s parade on record.
Worse, the winds are also predicted to approach the maximum strength allowed for safety as the gigantic balloons pass by scores of apartment building and hundreds of street lights above thousands of people close beneath. If one of those babies gets punctured, it will fall with a whole lot more weight than your popped circus balloon. And likely bring debris with it.
The parade actually starts forming on West Side streets by midnight tonight with the time-consuming inflating of so many large balloons.
But here’s the problem: Winds for Thursday morning are predicted to be 22 miles an hour with gusts up to 33. Have you ever tried to walk down Broadway with high winds whirling around and between tall buildings? Don’t.
So, 22 mph up to 33 mph predicted. Parade limits are 23 mph up to 34 mph. Anything above that grounds the balloons. That hasn’t happened since 1971.
Which leaves parade fans (and TV viewers) left to watch a whole bunch of earnest high school and municipal bands, floats with waving people and those annoying troupes of performers promoting their Broadway show by dancing in front of the NBC reviewing stand and holding up the entire parade to lip-sync songs from their shows. Whoopee-doo. Move along, please.
Oh, and the predicted Thanksgiving morning temperature for New York is 22 degrees. With the winds, that falls to five.
Of course, without the balloons looming above, New Yorkers will be able to look up at the sky and see the thick haze that’s inhabited Gotham the last few days, thanks to California exporting massive smoke plumes from its deadly wildfires.