Despite wind, balloons fly at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

Thanksgiving_Parade_75361 People try to stay warm before the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Macys_Thanksgiving_Parade_73265 Police take a position along the route before the start of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Macys_Thanksgiving_Parade_31413 Police stand guard as people arrive to watch the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Macys_Thanksgiving_Parade_20114 Members of the New York Police Department take a position along the route before the start of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Macys_Thanksgiving_Parade_79125 A New York Police Department officer and a K9 unit stand guard as people arrive to watch the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Macys_Thanksgiving_Parade_64992 A New York Police Department officer and a K9 unit stand guard as people arrive to watch the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_34743 A performer salutes the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Thanksgiving_Parade_68699 Clowns wave to the crowd along Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
APTOPIX_Thanksgiving_Parade_43954 People try to stay warm as they wait for the start of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. The 21 degrees (-6 Celsius) at the start of the parade made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Day_87337 The Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo, and Hugg balloons make their way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Thanksgiving_Day_20831 Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Maria Kent, foreground, makes her way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Thanksgiving_Day_63114 The Goku balloon makes its way down New York's Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Thanksgiving_Day_Parade_22960 The Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Thanksgiving_Parade_61980 A Vapor Wake K9 stands guard on 6th Avenue as Santa waves at the crowd during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_25826 People watch the SpongeBob SquarePants balloon float across Central Park South from the JW Marriott Essex House during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Day_Parade_48919 A woman watches as the Dino balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Thanksgiving_Parade_93519 Children watch the parade from a window facing Central Park South during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_53537 People watch from their balconies as the Pillsbury Doughboy floats across Central Park South during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_89642 A heavily armed police officer stands guard at the Columbus Circle subway entrance ahead of the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_39937 Macy's Tom Turkey float leads the the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade down Central Park West, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_44228 A nutcracker soldier balloon floats down 6th Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thanksgiving_Parade_32450 Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_22427 Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_46571 An NYPD officer gives instructions to attendees during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_35710 Greg Heffley from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series balloon passes by windows of a building on Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_63658 The Ronald McDonald balloon passes by windows of a building on Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_29520 A "PAW Patrol" balloon floats over Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_79641 A "PAW Patrol" balloon floats over Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_20135 Performers take part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_12520 A performer takes part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
APTOPIX_Thanksgiving_Parade_96099 Performers cheer in front of Macy's Tom Turkey float as they take part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Thanksgiving_Parade_66715 Performers walk in front of Macy's Tom Turkey float as they take part in the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
APTOPIX_Thanksgiving_Parade_37162 People watch the floats from a balcony during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Frigid weather and blustery winds didn’t chill the enthusiasm at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where spectators bundled up in blankets and sleeping bags and the giant character balloons flew lower than usual.

SpongeBob, Charlie Brown, the Grinch and other big balloons were cleared for takeoff just before Thursday’s parade, although some floated at noticeably lower-than-usual heights above the people holding their tethers, like the outstretched hand of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” balloon that appeared to hit some of his handlers on their wool cap-covered heads.

The 21 degrees (minus 6 Celsius) at the start made it one of the coldest Thanksgivings in the city in decades, and the temperature warmed only a few degrees as the parade rolled along.

Officials had been ready to order the 16 helium-filled balloons to a lower altitude or removed entirely if sustained winds exceeded 23 mph (37 kph) and gusts exceeded 34 mph (54 kph). There have been mishaps and injuries in the past when gusts blew them off course.

Bystanders refused to let the cold put a damper on watching the parade, breaking out blankets and sleeping bags to watch the balloons, bands and floats go by.

Tony Stout had camped out with his extended family since 2 a.m. to make sure they got a good view of his son, who was in the parade with the Ohio State University marching band.

“Ohhh, I’m freezing and numb, but excited,” said Stout, who had traveled from Columbus, Ohio.

Dylan Mahoney, who has come to the parade every year for the past dozen years, said he stayed warm by layering, including several pairs of socks.

“It’s one of the coldest,” he said, but “we’ve watched in the rain before.”

He said he loves the tradition of attending the parade, driving from Leonia, New Jersey, in the early hours to see the bands and balloons and racing for a good spot.

Entertainers including Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride and the Muppets from “Sesame Street” performed in the frigid cold.

Macy’s later apologized for “technical difficulties” after viewers ripped into singer Rita Ora for what they saw as awkward lip-syncing.

The British artist appeared out of sync with the vocals that viewers heard during parts of her televised performance of “Let You Love Me,” and the episode sparked a flurry of online commentary.

Macy’s apologized via Twitter, saying “several recording artists experienced technical difficulties that negatively impacted their performance” and were beyond the performers’ control.

Ora tweeted thanks to Macy’s for “the honesty.”

In another moment that got attention, a performance from the Broadway musical “The Prom” included a kiss between two female cast members. The producers told Entertainment Weekly it was the parade’s “first LGBTQ kiss.”

Representatives for Macy’s and broadcaster NBCUniversal didn’t respond to inquiries.

Thursday was one of New York City’s coldest Thanksgivings, with National Weather Service data showing the temperature peaked at 27 degrees (minus 2 Celsius). The coldest on record was in 1871, when the warmest it got was 22 degrees (minus 5 Celsius).

The Macy’s parade didn’t start until 1924.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said thousands of officers were stationed along the parade route. They included 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 event features about 8,000 marchers, including high school bands from across the country, and two dozen floats, culminating with the arrival of Santa Claus.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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