Interested in Thanksgiving?
Add Thanksgiving as an interest to stay up to date on the latest news, videos and analysis of Thanksgiving from ABC News.
SpongeBob, Charlie Brown and other giant balloons were allowed to take off just before the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that began in the midst of violent winds and some of the coldest temperatures in the history of the event.
The 21 degrees (-6 degrees Celsius) at first made it one of the coldest Thanksgiving days in the city in decades. The forecasts required sustained winds of up to 20 mph (32 kph) and gusts of up to 30 mph (48 kph). City officials let the balloons rise, although their height was noticeably lower.
Some of the balloons flew a few feet above the people holding their bonds. The outstretched hand of the balloon "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" appeared to hit some of its manipulators on their wool-covered heads.
Passersby refused to allow the low temperatures to slow down the parade, breaking the blankets and sleeping bags to watch the giant balloons go by.
Tony Stout camped with his extended family from 2 a.m. to make sure they got a good view of their son, who was in the parade with the marching band from Ohio State University. They traveled from Columbus, Ohio, to the parade.
"Ohhh, I'm freezing and numb, but excited," he said.
Dylan Mahoney, who has come to the parade every year for the past twelve years, said he stayed warm in layers, including several pairs of socks.
"It's one of the coldest," he said, but "we've seen it before in the rain."
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 compete for a good place.
Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride and the Muppets from "Sesame Street" were scheduled to perform in the freezing cold.
Thursday has the potential to be the coldest Thanksgiving Day in New York City since 1901, when the temperature only reached 26 degrees (-3.3 degrees Celsius). The coldest recorded was in 1871, when the warmest was 22 degrees (-5.5 degrees Celsius).
The Macy's parade did not begin until 1924.
New York City has issued an extreme cold weather alert and is urging everyone out to wear hats, scarves, gloves and layered clothing, and to cover their fingertips, earlobes and hairline. nose to prevent freezing.
Police commissioner James O & Neil said that thousands of officers will be stationed along the parade route. They include counterterrorism teams with long weapons, plainclothes officers mixed with the crowd and a new team of K-9 teams that can detect explosives a few hundred feet away.
The parade runs 46 blocks from the west side of Central Park to Macy's main store in downtown Manhattan.
The parade has around 8,000 protesters, including high school bands from all over the country, and two dozen floats that culminate with the arrival of Santa Claus.
Ross, 74, was playing a song from his new Christmas album and some of his family members joined his float, including Tracee Ellis Ross, a "Black-ish" star on ABC and the actor and actor Evan Ross.
Others in the lineup were Bad Bunny, Kane Brown and Ella Mai, Pentatonix, Rita Ora, Sugarland, Anika Noni Rose, Barenaked Ladies, Leona Lewis, Fifth Harmony Ally Brooke, Bazzi, Ashley Tisdale and Carly Pearce.