Macy’s Balloons Fly After Pre-Thanksgiving Storm Grounds Planes

The winter storm along the U.S. East Coast that disrupted holiday travel plans failed to ground the trademark balloons in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which began with the blessings of the New York Police Department.

Winds were calm enough for 16 inflatables, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Spiderman and Sonic the Hedgehog, to take their places above the streets of Manhattan today.

Flights were grounded yesterday as wind-swept rain hit cities including Boston and New York. Delays of about an hour were reported at New York area airports and almost two hours in Philadelphia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. Today, flight delays were no more than 15 minutes throughout the U.S., according to the FAA.

The balloons would have been grounded if sustained winds exceeded 23 miles (37 kilometers) per hour and gusts topped 34 mph, according to city rules devised after a Cat in the Hat balloon toppled a street light and injured a spectator in 1997, according to the Associated Press. The balloons were grounded once in the parade’s 87-year history, in 1971, the AP reported.

The low temperature today in New York will be 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celsius), AccuWeather said on its website. The southern U.S. is facing the coldest Thanksgiving in almost 30 years with some unprotected fruits and vegetables at risk, according to AccuWeather. A high of 65 degrees is predicted for Tampa, Florida, below the 67 degrees on Nov. 28, 2002, and 68 degrees on Nov. 23, 2000, the only times since 1985 it has failed to reach 70.

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