Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving parade celebrated its 100th anniversary bereft of balloons, a casualty of high winds Thursday morning.
“We’re a little bummed, but it doesn’t matter,” said Marques Chaney, 39, who traveled by train from Atlantic City to Philadelphia with his wife and two children for the parade. “We’re still having fun.”
It would have been unsafe to fly the 15 giant balloons Thursday, said Mike Monsell, vice president of marketing for 6ABC, with wind gusts expected to reach up to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
This year appears to be the first time since 1997 that the 6ABC Dunkin’ Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade went without balloons entirely. Wind gusts were about as bad as Thursday’s on that Thanksgiving 22 years ago, the Daily News reported. In more recent years wind has curtailed the use of balloons, keeping the biggest out of the parade or limiting them to just a few blocks on the parade route.
Giant inflatables were still in the lineup at the historic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, where winds forced them to be flown at a lower height than usual.
In Philadelphia, parade-goers had to be satisfied with floats, costumed marchers, and a plethora of bands.
“Because of the lack of balloons it’s band, band, band,” complained Janet Boone, 55, of Newtown.
“You sound so negative!” exclaimed her daughter, Jennifer, 25, as both cradled steaming coffees.
“I’m here!” Boone said. “I’m enjoying it!”
The parade included 23 bands, 16 floats, and 30 performances, organizers reported.
It was the first Thanksgiving parade for the Chaney family, and they were excited to be there despite the diminished lineup.
“We usually watch it on TV, but we figured we’d come out for the 100 years,” Marques Chaney said.
The parade route along JFK Boulevard and the Parkway was still lined with crowds three people deep in places, and plenty were content to continue what has become a family tradition.
“Whether it’s rain or snow or whatever, gotta be here,” said Claudia Blackford, 64, of Fox Chase.
She watched the parade with five grandchildren and two sons-in-law in front of the Mellon Building, their regular viewing spot for 19 years. She recalled with some fondness years when it was so freezing cold, winter coats didn’t offer enough protection. Thursday’s parade-watching temperatures reached into the 50s.
Blackford’s daughter was preparing Thanksgiving dinner back home, she said, looking forward to a family dinner together. Still, Blackford said, balloons would have been nice.
“It’s a shame they’re not here,” she said. “It feels weird without them.”