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Strong Winds Ground Balloons As Thanksgiving Parade Steps Off In Stamford

Workers deflate the balloons from the parade on Sunday. It was too windy to fly the giant characters in the UBS Parade Spectacular in Stamford. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
The crowd is much smaller than usual along the route just before the Stamford parade steps off on Sunday afternoon. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Sadly, the huge balloons in the Stamford Thanksgiving parade were left tied down with sandbags on Sunday morning. It is too windy for the balloons to fly along the parade route. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Not as many people turned out for the UBS Parade Spectacular on a cold windy day that forced the cancellation of the large helium balloons. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
While the wind drove the large balloons away, nothing can keep clowns away from the UBS Parade Spectacular on Sunday. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. — To the disappointment of the crowd, strong winds forced parade organizers in Stamford were forced to ground the 15 huge balloons that are the highlight of the annual Thanksgiving event known as the UBS Parade Spectacular. 

Among those surprised and disappointed was Erica Class who brought her two-year-old daughter Selena along for her first parade.

"Oh, they're not," she reacted with disappointment when hearing the news as she stood on the corner of Hoyt and Summer streets. "I brought my daughter out to see the balloons."

She said that she would watch the parade as long as her daughter enjoyed it.

The balloons — including the new one featuring the "Octonauts" — were inflated Saturday afternoon at the parade's starting point just north of downtown. 

But the high Wind Advisory forced the cancellation of the balloons, with westerly winds reaching 15 to 30 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph. 

The threshold for flying the big balloons is 25 mph, due to safety concerns of an out-of-control cartoon character.

The winds will be strong enough to blow down trees, limbs and power lines, the weather service warns. Minor property damage and scattered power outages are possible and can also make driving difficult.

The strong winds combined with cloudy skies and temperatures near 40 degrees appeared to be keeping down the size of the crowd. Some years, the parade draws upwards of 200,000 spectators. When the weather cooperates, it is the largest single-day event in Connecticut.   

Even without the balloons, the parade started at 12 noon.

The starting point is at the intersection of Summer and Hoyt Streets. The parade continues down Summer Street and makes a left on to Broad Street and then a right on to Atlantic Street where it ends at 400 Atlantic St.

It's the 23rd year the parade and the 11th year that UBS has been the title sponsor. 

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