NEW YORK - High winds from a storm that is bearing down on the East Coast may ground Macy's giant character balloons in the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Balloons have only been grounded once in the parade's 87-year history, when bad weather kept them from flying in 1971.
The iconic characters that soar between the Manhattan skyscrapers can't lift off Thursday if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. That's because of city rules enacted after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a female spectator.
This year's balloons include SpongeBob Squarepants, Snoopy, Spider-Man and a 47-foot hot air balloon displaying the faces of characters from the classic film "The Wizard of Oz."