The big balloons are in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade after all, but they're staying low

We're hoping Wednesday won't be the last time we see Snoopy this Thanksgiving

It was a close call, Charlie Brown. But Astronaut Snoopy and friends are taking flight -- even if they're a little low.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off Thursday morning with handlers keeping close reins on the giant character balloons along the Manhattan route, despite concerns that high winds might have grounded them.

"We are happy to announce that the balloons will fly!" NBC's Hoda Kotb said on the network's broadcast of the annual holiday procession.

As the parade kicked off, handlers kept at least some of the giant balloons near the ground, making them more manageable in the wind.

One of the longest -- a red Power Ranger -- was held so low early in the parade that a leg scraped the street, and two workers carried a dangling hand to keep it from doing the same.

High winds have been blowing through New York City, and the balloons generally aren't supposed to be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, according to city regulations.

Sustained wind speed in New York is expected to be around 20 mph, and gusts could reach around 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Contingency plans

Officials are measuring wind speeds throughout the route, and workers can lower the balloons to make them more manageable if winds get too fast, Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras said.

If the winds get too strong, workers can divert the balloons down a side street and deflate them, NYPD Chief Terence Monahan said.

Wind speeds could be higher in some parts of the city because of what's known as Bernoulli's principle, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

"As air gets compressed between buildings, it goes faster," he said.

Officials stayed hopeful

The parade balloons have only been grounded once, Monahan said. That was in 1971, Veras said, when there was "extreme wind."

Officials are trying not to have a repeat of 1997, when the Cat in the Hat balloon injured four people after intense winds forced it astray.

Wind or no wind, the 2019 parade was always slated to go on -- even if some of the larger balloons weren't in it.

"We absolutely encourage everybody to come out and enjoy what, without a doubt, is one of New York City's greatest family oriented traditions," outgoing NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said.

"We're going to have another great and very safe Thanksgiving in New York City," he said.

CNN's Kristina Sgueglia and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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