FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG RELEASES RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE SAFETY TASK FORCE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today released the recommendations of the Thanksgiving Day Parade Safety Task Force which call for the creation and implementation of an enhanced Parade Safety Protocol expanding upon improvements in parade safety made in 1998. The Task Force, co-chaired by Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph Bruno, was created last November after two parade-goers at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were injured when ropes attached to one of the large parade balloons became entangled on a street light pole arm. The Task Force included representatives from the Police Department, Department of Transportation, Department of Parks & Recreation, Law Department and OEM.
“The creation of this Safety Protocol will reinforce our commitment to making public safety priority number one at one of the world’s greatest parades,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We want everyone to enjoy the sights and sounds of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and these recommendations ensure that we have the communications and decision making structure in place to help prevent any future accidents. I thank Corporation Counsel Cardozo and Commissioner Bruno for their work on the Task Force and Macy’s for their cooperation and assistance to ensure that the Thanksgiving Day Parade marches on – more safely than ever before.”
The new Safety Protocol includes a streamlined structure of communication between the City and Macy’s from the beginning of parade preparation through post-parade review; an enhanced wind-testing system to provide real or near-real time wind measurements at major intersections along the parade route; a step-by-step procedure for parade preparation including review and approval of a parade route map showing all modifications of street lights and other “street furniture”; approval of all large balloons and their maximum flying heights; enhanced training of all parade personnel; parade day implementation of communication and decision-making procedure grounded in the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS); and yearly post-parade reviews coordinated by OEM.
“Macy’s is pleased with the City’s efforts to create an enhanced safety protocol for the Parade and appreciates that the City shares Macy’s commitment to continuing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition, including the flight of Macy’s legendary large balloons,” said Macy’s spokesperson Elina Kazan.
“The Task Force spent the last year carefully evaluating parade specifications to ensure that safety procedures have been streamlined,” said Corporation Counsel Cardozo. “We feel the resulting report, a product of much thought and study, will help enable a safer parade for all involved.”
“Making sure that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goes forward for all New Yorkers in the safest and most secure manner is everyone’s goal,” said Commissioner Bruno. “Working with City agencies and Macy’s, we have outlined procedures to ensure that this wonderful holiday tradition will go on for years to come.”
“The New York City Police Department is committed to making this Thanksgiving tradition as safe as possible for all,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. “Police officers will still accompany each float and order its deflation if wind conditions warrant, and police along the route will re-direct traffic and take all the usual precautions to protect participants and observers alike.”
Last November 2005, an accident occurred on Broadway between West 43rd and West 44th Streets when ropes attached to one of the large balloons became entangled on the arm of a street light on the parade route. The lamp head was pulled off and subsequently landed among the spectators below. Two individuals were taken to the hospital, but were not seriously injured. Among its findings, the Task Force determined that the 2005 accident was caused primarily by a discrepancy between parade guidelines and the reality of parade conditions. Specifically, while these guidelines assumed a parade “envelope” (the passageway for balloon flight) of 62 feet, the actual envelope where the accident occurred was only 39 feet. The implementation of the enhanced Safety Protocol would reconcile these discrepancies and assure a clear organizational structure governing parade preparation and execution with a set of technological innovations to improve balloon flight safety.
Members of the Task Force also included Department of Parks and Recreation First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, Department of Transportation First Deputy Commissioner Judith Bergtraum and NYPD Inspector Jay Kopstein. The Task Force received the full cooperation of Macy’s and worked closely with both its own consultants and Macy’s longtime parade consultant.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924 and has been held every year since with the exception of 1942, 1943 and 1944 during World Ward II. Originally called the “Macy's Christmas Day Parade” even though it took place on Thanksgiving Day, it was renamed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. The earliest parades featured circus animals, but in 1927, the animals were replaced with large parade balloons. Over the years, the parade and the size of these parade balloons grew considerably. In 2005, there were 14 balloons in the parade line-up, the largest of which had a volume of 16,200 cubic feet. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people watch the parade in person, and more than 44 million watch it on television.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Kate O’Brien Ahlers (Law Department)
Jarrod Bernstein (Office of Emergency Management)