STAMFORD, Conn. — The crowd at the UBS Parade Spectacular in Stamford on Sunday may have been disappointed by the cold weather and the lack of big balloons, but they found a silver lining and enjoyed the event as it stepped off through the downtown streets.
Strong winds on Sunday forced parade organizers to ground the 15 huge balloons that are the highlight of the annual pre-Thanksgiving event.
Among those surprised and disappointed in the crowd was Erica Class, who had brought her 2-year-old daughter Selena along for her first parade.
"Oh, they're not," she said, reacting with disappointment upon hearing the news of the balloons as she stood on the corner of Hoyt and Summer streets. "I brought my daughter out to see the balloons."
But she said she would stay and 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 strong winds Sunday combined with cloudy skies and temperatures near 40 degrees kept down the size of the crowd at the parade. 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.
Spectators on Sunday still enjoyed marching bands, clowns, floats and the arrival of the man of the hour — Santa Claus.