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Holiday Parade Balloon Hurts Two

New York City police officers rush into the crowd after a street lamp head crashed to the ground during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005 in New York.
AP
Two people who were slightly injured when part of a street lamp fell on them during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, are out of the hospital.

Police say an eleven-year-old girl was treated for minor scrapes on the side of her head. And her 26-year old sister, who was in a wheelchair, needed six stitches on the back of her head.

The accident happened in Times Square near the end of the nationally televised parade. The tethers on the "M-and-M's Chocolate Candies" balloon became entangled on the head of the street lamp and knocked it off.

Officials say the crew handling the balloon was apparently trying to correct its course after a wind gust when it became entangled with the light.

"It happened so fast," said parade spectator Karim Simmons, of Queens. "I said, 'Oh, my God!' It dropped like a rock."

The circumstances were an echo of a 1997 accident, when two people were seriously injured when 45 mph winds forced a "Cat in the Hat" balloon into a metal pole on Central Park West.

Officials then set guidelines that would limit the use of balloons if wind threatened to be too strong.

Parade organizers were given the go-ahead to use the balloons this year, but ordered them tethered on shorter lines because of some moderate breezes at the parade's start.

It was not immediately clear if wind played a factor in this year's accident.

The Macy's parade started in 1924 and has been an annual tradition, canceled only in the World War II years of 1942 to 1944.

The balloons, including Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, the parade's first Latina balloon character, shared top billing with 10 marching bands, 27 floats and performers such as LeAnn Rimes, Aaron Neville and Kristin Chenoweth.

Among those watching was 85-year-old Ron Kahn, who took pictures while perching on a ladder.

"This is wonderful. It's part of New York," Kahn said.

Sayra Hernandez watched from a side street with her son, Lucas, 4, sitting on her shoulders.

"It seems better on TV, maybe more glamorous, not this hectic," said Hernandez, 30, of Manhattan. "But the smile on my kid's face is priceless."