Thanksgiving Day Parade – Balloon
Ambience: crowd chants “let’s start the parade”
The big stars of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade are the balloons. An army of volunteers blows up the balloons the night before the parade and then teams of 40 to 50 handlers walk the balloons from 79th street down to Herald Square in New York, with millions of people lining the route. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. So what does it take to be a balloon handler?
Hall: You’ve got to be 18 years old; you’ve got to weigh 125 pounds and you’ve got to be trained. We have a very, very highly skilled group of captains and pilots on each balloon.
That’s Robin Hall, former Executive Producer of the parade.
Hall: There are certain techniques for flying the balloons. I’m going to give you drawings; I’m going to show you a video tape that shows you how the balloons are made, how the balloons fly, what lifts a balloon into the air, what drags a balloon down and what techniques you’re going to use to handle that line.
Marching Band fanfare
Shannon: I’m the pilot of Barney; my name is Glen Shannon, and I’m going to direct everybody. I’m going to walk backwards for about 2.5 miles, deciding how high and how fast the balloon goes. Pay attention to what everybody’s doing. Keep the line straight. Make sure everybody’s focusing on me, not on the balloon.
Metzner: What are you focusing on?
Shannon: I’m focusing on the wind and how the balloon is going from right to left, just to make sure we don’t hit anything.
Pilot talking to team: You’ll see the Park is on you left as you’re walking; the buildings on your right. So I will always refer to as ‘park side, building side’. OK, so that way you’ll know what I’m talking about. If I say ‘park-side, come on, you got to get moving’ you know which side you’re on.. We’re going to have basically four lines (fades under parade drums)
Happy Thanksgiving. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.