No more purple dinosaur
November 25, 2005 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Can you point me to video of police swarming the Barney balloon in the Macy's parade, knifing it to ribbons? Probably from 1997.

The discussion of this year's troubles in the Macy's Parade reminded me of something my father told me (at the time) that he saw very briefly in the coverage of probably the 1997 balloon parade.
As I recall...
Due to wind, the police decided that the Barney balloon had become too dangerous and needed to come down pronto. So a brace of New York's Finest climbed up on it, cutting it open with their standard-issue knives, no doubt leaving hundreds of little children with a permanent distrust of the boys in blue. My father claimed to have seen about 3 seconds of this on TV.
Can you help me see it too? (And show my son, someday.)
posted by Aknaton to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
I'd say "doubtful". This article talks about a Cat in the Hat balloon doing the lamppost shuffle in 1997, as does this CNN story. I'd imagine that Barney just made it a better story. It'd be odd to write stories talking about how the 1998 parade was safer than the 1997, and give an anecdote about the 1997 parade, without including the Barney part if it occurred.
posted by mendel at 3:48 PM on November 25, 2005

NYPD does not issue knives to its patrol officers, nor so far as I know ever did. No cop I know ever carried a utility knife in uniform, and although I've heard stories from cops of the bad old days when they'd carry a "throw-down" to plant on someone they shouldn't have shot, they'd hardly have used them on a balloon.
posted by nicwolff at 4:41 PM on November 25, 2005

As far as I know, *every* cop carries a knife, even if it's hidden. But I don't remember hearing about this, and I would've, considering that I was in the journalism field at the time.
posted by SpecialK at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2005

From the LA Times:
In the 1997 parade, 39-mph winds turned the balloons into a danger. The Cat in the Hat knocked a lamppost into the crowd, injuring four and leaving one of them permanently brain-damaged.

A police officer had to unsheathe his knife and stab a Pink Panther balloon into submission, while a group of officers stomped and stabbed a Barney balloon they worried would menace the crowd.

So it looks like it did happen.
posted by slightlybewildered at 10:06 PM on November 25, 2005

No cop I know ever carried a utility knife in uniform

Certainly I've seen NYPD cops carrying big knives; one used his to unjam the turnstile I was attempting to go through (before the days of MetroCard). Would that that proved my father right about Barney.

posted by Aknaton at 10:10 PM on November 25, 2005

No cop I know ever carried a utility knife in uniform

Every cop I know carries a knife.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:12 PM on November 25, 2005

You're both right. They don't carry utility knives, they carry pig-stickers.
posted by IronLizard at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2005

Sorry to have overstated; I wasn't thinking of pocket knives which of course many people in all lines of work carry but of sheath or belt knives that might be considered "standard-issue".
posted by nicwolff at 10:34 AM on November 26, 2005

I used to work with Macy's and one of my annual privileges was being a balloon pilot, I co-piloted the "Where the Wild Things Are" baloon my first year, and subsequently piloted "Clifford" and "Big Bird" in the following years.

On each occasion I always had 2 NYPD officers assigned to my balloon, and during my first experience, we had caught a handler's line in a tree on CPW. Standard procedure is to cut the line above the handle and let it run up and through the branches. Before I could get my pocket knife out of my jump suit, one of the NYPD officers whipped out a bad-ass switch blade (not the crap you buy in Tiajuana as a kid, this thing was solid).

I don't know about all the other cops, but I'd say its a safe bet that every one of NY's finest on that parade comes prepared to do their duty, even if it means sliced dino in front of the kiddies.

That said, I can't confirm whether or not Barney was filleted or not. NBC and Macy's do their best to avoid publicizing such incidents at all costs - as a pilot you have a radio that you can contact parade management and NBC directly at any time in case you've lost pressurization in one or more chambers that may scare the kids ("What happened to Big Bird's nose mommy?"). If something does happen they usually try to take the balloon down quickly and move it to the side, and only the people right there on that block get to see it. There's actually not a lot of cameras along the majority of the route, so the chances that this would be caught on tape are actually low, unless it happens in Times Square or (heaven forbid) at Herald Square.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:29 AM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

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