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New Milford Tech Helps Inflate Massive Macy’s Parade Balloons

Matt Kaprielian, balloon tech, with Ronald McDonald the day before the 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Matt Kaprielian
The Charlie Brown balloon slowly comes to life. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Matt Kaprielian
The 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature almost 30 small and midsize balloons. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Matt Kaprielian

NEW YORK, N.Y. — For balloon tech Matt Kaprielian of New Milford, the 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started Wednesday.

In his world, it’s known as balloon inflation day.

Some 1 million people lined 81st and 77th streets Wednesday to watch 16 giant balloons – and almost 30 smaller ones – come to life.

“We start off the morning opening tarp and placing sandbags around the area,” said Kaprielian, 25. “The sandbags are used to tie the balloons down.”

Next comes unrolling the balloons and getting them into position.

Starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, hoses connected to four trucks, two per street, start flowing helium.

For some seven hours.

Several hundred people are needed to inflate all the balloons.

“Then we go into cleaning up and then our night watch,” Kaprielian said.

During night watch, the balloons are patrolled to make sure they are safe and stay properly tied down and to ensure none of the chambers starts deflating.

“They’ll lose a little bit of pressure,” Kaprielian said. “But we also underinflate because we know in the morning the sun is going to heat the balloons and expand the helium.

“There’s quite a bit of science involved,” he added.

New balloons this year include one from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” another based on the new “Trolls” movie, and Charlie Brown flying a kite, unsuccessfully,

“The kite has crashed into him,” Kaprielian said. “So he’s having a little trouble. It’s cute.”

The whole crew is excited about the 9 a.m. stepoff Thursday, according to Kaprielian.

“It means a lot to the whole country to have something so special,” he said.

Macy’s estimates some 53 million people will watch the three-hour parade on NBC — 50 million at home on TV and the rest in person.

Kaprielian and the crew all man different positions during the parade. He’ll be driving down the side of the route in a golf cart, making sure there’s no damage to the balloons.

“It’s quality control during the run of the parade,” he said.

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