Speed Reads

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This is what happens when a balloon goes out of control at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

For nearly a century, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has endured as one of America's most recognizable Thanksgiving traditions. But over the years, the parade's iconic inflatable floats have also caused plenty of problems. What happens when a balloon goes haywire? In 1997, one parade-goer managed to capture the moment that strong winds sent the Barney the Purple Dinosaur balloon careening out of control over 51st Street, where it was finally stabbed and pulled out of commission by the NYPD:

It's a bizarre and fascinating thing to watch, but in the wrong conditions, wayward parade balloons really can pose a danger to attendees. Following the 1997 parade, The New York Times reported that the wind had reached a speed of up to 43 miles per hour, and one parade-goer was seriously injured when a six-story Cat in the Hat balloon knocked over a lamppost.

Since 1997, New York City has imposed stricter safety limitations on the parade, including smaller balloons, much more extensive training for volunteers, and an ordinance requiring the balloons to be pulled if the wind speed exceeds 23 miles per hour. In 2013, the balloons were nearly grounded before the wind died down in time for the parade to begin as planned.