It's almost showtime, and after mounting fears about mighty Manhattan winds, officials expect the big beloved balloons will fly in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The NYPD Midtown North Precinct, which has jurisdiction over SpongeBob Squarepants and Gary balloon, made the call at 7 a.m. Thursday:

After a 1997 incident in which a Cat in the Hat ballon went wild in high winds and hit a street lamp, which then fell into and injured spectators, the city established a wind threshold to ensure spectator safety: If sustained winds are above 23 mph and wind gusts exceed 40 mph, the largest balloons must be grounded.

More training and improved wind monitoring techniques were implemented after an M&Ms balloon hit a street lamp, injuring two spectators, in 2005. Today, Macy's has a licensed meteorologist on site, as well as wind monitoring stations along the 2.5-mile parade route. Further, each balloon has an assistant pilot with a wind meter and an NYPD representative, which helps the city and Macy's coordinate efforts.

Last year, John Piper, Vice President of Macy's Parade Studio, told Gothamist that in anticipation of windy conditions, "The pilots and captains will be instructing the handlers that we'll be holding them in really close to the waist. Every time we come to an intersection, we're going to make sure it's clear so we never stop in an intersection"—NYC intersections are wind tunnels!—"then as we go through, we move to the windward side and come out and straighten up again. That's something we practice at our trainings."

If wind conditions change during the parade—which starts at 9 a.m.—it's possible balloons could be grounded, and handlers will bring the balloons to side streets. But balloons or no balloons, you'll still see these guys: