The Thanksgiving Day Parade's In Trouble

by Krystie Lee Yandoli

The balloons for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade will be inflated Wednesday evening in preparation for the big event, but — not so fast, Spongebob. Severe winds might end up preventing the parade from going all-out this year. The forecast currently expects winds of 20 mph and gusts of 36 miles per hour on Thursday. If that ends up being the case, everyone’s favorite balloons will stay grounded.

“At this time, it is too early to make any determinations on the flight of the giant balloons," said Orlando Veras, a Macy's spokesman. "On Thanksgiving morning, Macy's works closely with the NYPD, who, based on real time weather data and the official regulations, determine if the balloons will fly and at what heights."

Regardless of how disappointing the possibility of not watching balloons in the parade would be, we’re not all that surprised, considering the weather forecasts we’ve reported this week:

Weather reports this week originally suggested that the entire East Coast would have to watch out for bad weather on Thanksgiving. Now, it turns out Thursday’s forecast shouldn’t be all that bad — it’s Wednesday we all have to watch out for. On one of the busiest travel days of the year, wind, snow, and rain, storms are expected to delay flights and make traveling across the country a lot more difficult than usual. An estimated 44 million people will be traveling this year — 39 million people by car and 3 million people by plane — but the days leading up to Thanksgiving are not making it easy for friends and family to get to their final destinations.

According to predictions by AAA, 37 percent of all travelers will be on the road and in the air on Wednesday, and the company estimates they’ll have to help out more than 320,000 travelers due to weather conditions.

Back in 1997, a Cat in the Hat balloon toppled a light pole and severely injured a spectator in the crowd because of intense winds. After that incident, new city rules were enacted to make sure no one else is endangered or hurt. In all of the 87 years that the Thanksgiving Day Parade has existed, balloons have only been kept on the ground because of weather once, in 1971.

But this year, organizers might want to be extra careful. After all, as Bustle noted last week, the parade is already ensnared in a bit of controversy this year:

2013 should be the year [of] SeaWorld's first appearance at next week's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. All fun and games, right? Not so much. The SeaWorld float will feature a killer whale swimming blithely with its friends — and SeaWorld's famous killer whales, captured from their ocean pods decades ago and now bred by the park, have been implicated in a number of deaths...

Faced with decreased attendance and furious criticism from PETA and animal-rights activists (and, um, Alec Baldwin) SeaWorld decided it was high time to, um, participate in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade with a float of happy killer whales. The park chain says that the float celebrates SeaWorld's 50th anniversary, and, no, it's not a desperate PR move. PETA fired back, saying that there's nil to celebrate, and threatened to stage a protest. Macy's, for its part, released a statement saying that it plays absolutely no part in activism one way or another. Translation: We're staying the hell out of this, guys.