Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Friday, May 29, 1998

Release #238 -98

Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958 or Jennifer Chait


The Mayoral Task Force which reviewed operations at the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade today delivered its findings in a report to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Concluding a five-month study of parade operations, the Task Force has recommended the adoption of safety conditions that should apply to the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and all parades that include the flying of large balloons.

The Mayor appointed the Task Force after last year's tragic accident when a portion of a lamppost was severed by a balloon, injuring several spectators during the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Task Force included representatives from the Police Department, Departments of Transportation (DOT), Law, City Planning, the Office of Emergency Management and the Mayor's staff.

The Task Force has reviewed a number of factors pertaining to parade activity including the procedures and events that customarily occur the night before, and the day of, the parade, the characteristics and operation of parade balloons, the effect of weather conditions on balloons, the lampposts and other fixtures along the parade route, and the training of balloon handlers.

The following conditions were recommended:

  1. No large balloon will be permitted in a parade unless the City's Department of Transportation has approved its construction design, and the intended method of operation and handling as safe; no balloon with dimensions that exceed 78 feet in length, 40 feet in width or 70 feet in height will be operated;

  2. No large balloon will be permitted in the parade unless it is constructed, operated and handled so that it will remain safely within the confines of each side of the parade route;

  3. No large parade balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph or wind gusts exceeding 34 mph;

  4. All large parade balloons, unless otherwise permitted by the DOT, shall be tethered to no less than two support vehicles during operation. The specifications of such vehicles including their size and weight, and the manner in which they are to be operated, must be submitted to the DOT for approval;

  5. The Police Department will have the authority to make final determinations with respect to public safety at parades;

  6. No large parade balloon will be permitted to operate without devices acceptable to the DOT that can be used to safely deflate balloons and/or portions thereof on the parade route;

  7. The training of all those who are to handle and operate large parade balloons during a parade must be approved by the DOT; and

  8. The DOT may take any action it deems necessary to ensure the suitability of street furniture, including lampposts and traffic signal lights, along the parade route. Unless the DOT agrees otherwise, all costs associated with temporary adjustments made to the street furniture that the DOT determines will enhance public safety during the preparation for, and the duration and termination of the parade shall be borne by the parade sponsor.

"Macy's cooperated fully in the Task Force's effort to ensure that accidents like those that occurred last year are avoided and that all parade activities are conducted in as safe a manner as possible," said Task Force Co-Chair Dennison Young, Jr. "The Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade is an important and exciting New York City and American tradition. With the adoption of these new conditions, it is expected that the parade will operate safely and will continue to thrill millions of viewers each year."

The members of the Task Force are: Counsel to the Mayor and Co-Chair Dennison Young, Jr.; Deputy Mayor and Co-Chair Rudy Washington; Special Counsel to the Deputy Mayor for Operations Geoffrey Hess; City Planning Chairman Joe Rose; First Assistant Corporation Counsel Jeffrey Friedlander; Office of Emergency Management Director Jerry Hauer; DOT Acting Commissioner Richard Malchow, DOT Deputy Commissioner for Operations Jack Larson and DOT Interim Chief Engineer, Division of Bridges Connie Crawford; and Police Department Deputy Commissioner of Administration Richard Sheirer, Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman, and Chief of Patrol of Manhattan South Allan Hoehl.

New York City has hosted the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade each year since 1924, with the exception of three years during World War II. Beginning at 77th Street, the annual parade runs along Central Park West and continues south on Broadway to 34th Street. Giant character balloons have been part of the celebration since their introduction in 1927.

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