Balloons, blankets at frigid Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

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NEW YORK (AP) - Bystanders are refusing to let cold temperatures put a damper on watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, breaking out the blankets and sleeping bags to watch the giant balloons go by.

Tony Stout camped out with his extended family since 2 a.m. to make sure they got a good view of his son, who would be in the parade with The Ohio State University marching band. They traveled from Columbus, Ohio, for the parade.

"Ohhh, I'm freezing and numb, but excited," he said.

Forecasters say it could be the coldest Thanksgiving in well over a century on Thursday, with the National Weather Service projecting temperatures in the low 20s (-4 to -7 Celsius) and sustained winds of up to 20 mph (32 kph) with gusts to 30 mph (48 kph), just inside the safe zone for the balloons to fly.

City officials said the 16 giant character balloons such as SpongeBob and Charlie Brown could fly safely, although their height would be adjusted if necessary.

Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride and the Muppets from "Sesame Street" are slated to perform in the frigid cold.

Thursday has the potential to be New York City's coldest Thanksgiving since 1901, when the temperature only got as high as 26 degrees (-3.3 Celsius). The coldest on record was in 1871, when the warmest it got was 22 degrees (-5.5 Celsius).

The Macy's parade didn't start until 1924.

New York City has issued an extreme cold weather alert and is urging anyone going outside to wear hats, scarves, gloves and layered clothing and to keep their fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered to prevent frostbite.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said thousands of officers will be stationed along the parade route. They include counterterrorism teams with long guns, plainclothes officers mixed in with the crowd and a new squad of K-9 teams that can sniff out explosives from a few hundred feet away.

The parade runs 46 blocks from the west side of Central Park to Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan.

The parade features about 8,000 marchers, including high school bands from across the country, and two-dozen floats culminating with the arrival of Santa Claus. The performances will be shown on the NBC telecast, which starts at 9 a.m. EST.

Ross, 74, will perform a song from her new Christmas album and will be joined on her float by her some of her family members, including daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, a star of ABC's "Black-ish," and actor son Evan Ross.

Others in the lineup include Bad Bunny, Kane Brown and Ella Mai, Pentatonix, Rita Ora, Sugarland, Anika Noni Rose, Barenaked Ladies, Leona Lewis, Fifth Harmony's Ally Brooke, Bazzi, Ashley Tisdale and Carly Pearce.

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