Drizzle Doesn't Dampen Thanksgiving Eve Inflation Party

Macy's Thanksgiving Eve Inflation Party, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, drew thousands, despite the chilly constant drizzle, to witness this traditional pre-holiday celebration where the real stars of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Macy’s Balloons, are given the royal treatment by dedicated volunteers.

Spider Man ready to move.

Before the flotilla of animations favorite characters delight millions of fans of all ages and even before they are called by the Parade Master to “Join The Parade,” the Macy’s balloons are a part of an Upper West Side custom, an institution for New Yorker’s, who annually brave the elements for the chance to see their favorite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon before it sails high over the treetops of Central Park West and this year onto Seventh Avenue before ending at Macy’s Herald Square.

The Energizer Bunny, a balloon on wheels, and a netted Abby Cadabby.

Fun for the kids, friends and visiting relatives, this year’s inflation party was no different, even the weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands who braved the long lines, barricaded conditions and a intermittent chilly drizzling rain for a opportunity to be part of the 83rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The constant drizzle couldn't dampen spirits.

Approximately 100,000 people, including New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg and NYPD Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly showed up to the pay tribute to a tradition that has made New York City a Thanksgiving Holiday destination for thousands.

New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, and NYPD Police Commission, Ray Kelly.

The tony apartments that line the Museum block were decorated for the usual pre-thanksgiving holiday party an envious perch for the thousands who walked the corralled viewing pathway, in the rain, that circled the Museum of Natural History.

A netted SpongeBob SquarePants eyes a way out.

The inflation party begins in the afternoon with street closures from 77th Street to 81st Street and Central Park West to Columbus Avenue as the volunteers from Macy’s Department Stores and the students from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, where the balloons are conceptualized, designed, created, brought to module life and remade to full parade size, converge for the final run through before the Parade.

Pumpkins and Kermit the Frog.

The streets are lined with tarp and the airless balloons are filled with helium and netted. The teams of volunteers, approximately 4,000 volunteers from Macy’s Department Stores, prepare to guide the balloons safely past the millions of spectators. Wind Sleeves are positioned along Central Park West  as the balloons, for the safety of the millions who line the parade route, are grounded should the wind become boisterous.

Macy's stars shine even in inclement weather.

As the parade like the show, goes on no matter the elements, the regulations for wind control changed after high winds, in 1997, drove the Cat in the Hat balloon into a lamppost which broke and caused the debris to fall into the crowd.  The same year, the unusually high winds, forced the NYPD into decisive action, chasing down the Pink Panther and Barney Balloons, and stabbing them until they were permanently deflated.

Shrek, netted, with Rubik’s Cube.

Other unusual balloon happenings in 1957, in a drenching downpour, the Popeye hat filled with gallons of water causing him to veer off course and dump water on surprised parade spectators.  The parades most decorated veteran with the most appearances in six different characters goes to Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Snoopy.

The Stars Of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The first parade, in 1924 when trolleys, and not subways, were the fastest form of New York City travel,  the signature balloons were still flying high over the city streets only not so high and the balloons were replicated from the animals at the Central Park Zoo

Circus balls line 77th Street.

This year, the 83rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, began at the traditional starting point, 77th and Central Park West where Dora The Explorer, the Energizer Bunny, Abby Cadabby, Pikachu, Ronald McDonald, Shrek, Buzz Lightyear, SpongeBob Squarepants, Beethoven  and Kermit the Frog wowed the approximate three million spectators that lined the two and a half  mile trek past Manhattan’s Central Park to Seventh Avenue ending at Macy’s flagship Herald Square Department Store.

One of the older Balloon's: The Pirate.

All Macy’s Department Stores are closed for Thanksgiving Day and will reopen with spectacular Black Friday savings on Friday, November 27.

The Real Stars.

All photos by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc.

For more information on Pulse Point Productions, Inc.: www.pulsepointproductionsinc.com

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