Bystanders are refusing to let cold temperatures put a damper on watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, breaking out the blankets and sleeping bags to watch the giant balloons go by.
Forecasters say it could be the coldest Thanksgiving in well over a century on Thursday, with the National Weather Service projecting temperatures in the low 20s (-4 to -7 Celsius) and sustained winds of up to 20 mph (32 kph) with gusts to 30 mph (48 kph), just inside the safe zone for the balloons to fly.
Thursday has the potential to be New York City’s coldest Thanksgiving since 1901, when the temperature only got as high as 26 degrees (-3.3 Celsius). The coldest on record was in 1871, when the warmest it got was 22 degrees (-5.5 Celsius).
The Macy’s parade didn’t start until 1924.
New York City has issued an extreme cold weather alert and is urging anyone going outside to wear hats, scarves, gloves and layered clothing and to keep their fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered to prevent frostbite.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said thousands of officers will be stationed along the parade route. They include counterterrorism teams with long guns, plainclothes officers mixed in with the crowd and a new squad of K-9 teams that can sniff out explosives from a few hundred feet away.
The parade runs 46 blocks from the west side of Central Park to Macy’s flagship store in midtown Manhattan.
The parade features about 8,000 marchers, including high school bands from across the country, and two-dozen floats.