Frigid temperatures and blustery winds were no match for holiday cheer as giant character balloons took to the skies, and performers on floats and marching bands made their way through New York City's streets on Thursday for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. SpongeBob, Charlie Brown, the Grinch and other big balloons were cleared for takeoff just before the parade, although some of them floated at noticeably lower heights above the people holding their tethers, like the outstretched hand of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" balloon that appeared to hit some of his handlers on their wool cap-covered heads, the AP reports.
The 21 degrees at the start made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades. Forecasts called for sustained winds of up to 20mph and gusts to 30mph. Officials had been ready to order the 16 helium-filled balloons to a lower altitude or removed entirely if sustained winds exceed 23mph and gusts exceed 34mph. There have been mishaps and injuries in the past when gusts blew them off course. Bystanders refused to let cold temperatures put a damper on watching the parade. Tony Stout camped out with his extended family since 2am. to make sure they got a good view of his son, who was in the parade with the Ohio State University marching band. They traveled from Columbus, Ohio, for the parade. "Ohhh, I'm freezing and numb, but excited," he said. (Some unusual dogs helped protect the parade.)