The big balloons soared along with the crowd's spirits Thursday as the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade made its way through the streets of New York City.
Despite concerns that windy conditions would ground Snoopy, Spider-Man and 16 other giant balloons, the NYPD determined Thursday morning that the winds were calm enough to lift off.
"We thought they'd find a way to pull it off,'' said spectator John Mispagel, of San Jose, Calif. "It's really fun seeing so many people having such a great time.''
Balloon handlers kept a tight grip on their inflated characters, with winds about 26 mph.
The parade largely went off without a hitch, though Sonic the Hedgehog was briefly snagged in the branches of a tree and a spinning dreidel balloon temporarily deflated on a float meant to mark the start of Hanukkah, which fell on Thanksgiving for the first time in centuries.
Wind also had its way with the Spider-Man balloon, and tree punctured its left arm. Despite a small leak, the superhero made it through the parade.
Cheering throngs were bundled against a 30-degree chill, but the sun was shining. Some in the crowd lifted small children onto their shoulders.
An excited 9-year-old Lily Thomolaris, of Pittsburgh, was excited to "see all the balloons.'' But she thought a big turkey was especially cool.
Amy Kule, the parade's executive producer, said the 3.5 million spectators gathered to watch the annual affair would also see numerous floats, 900 clowns and 40 smaller balloons.
Balloons have only been grounded once in the parade's 87-year history, when bad weather kept them from flying in 1971.
The city enacted strict rules after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a spectator.