Longtime balloon handlers excited for this year's 6abc Dunkin' Thanksgiving Day Parade

Many are excited this year; it's back in full action given the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The larger-than-life balloons are one of the biggest attractions of the 6abc Dunkin' Thanksgiving Day Parade.

They'll be floating through Philadelphia once more after missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Action News spoke with proud balloon handlers David Washington and Joseph Ryan. It's because of their critical role Kermit the Frog balloon was able to stay afloat in 2011.

"As a volunteer, as a captain. It's magic. It's absolute magic," said Ryan.

Ryan, of Kensington, and Washington, of Germantown, found common ground in the quite quirky passion. Both have been balloon handlers for nearly 10 years.

Washington said he signed up for the job after hearing about it on 6abc.

Ryan, however, said a teacher got him interested when he attended the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Both say you better have a good grip to handle the job.

"You have to pull the rope tight without wrapping it around your wrist," Ryan said. "And at the same time, you need as many people on these ginormous balloons because the balloon will actually carry away."

Both are excited that the parade is back in full swing this year, and the crowds will be back too.

They said it's nothing like seeing the little children's faces light up from seeing the balloons.

"This year, I'm glad Channel 6 is coming back here for the parade. I do enjoy doing the show," said Washington.

Everyone will have to stay tuned to see which big balloon the veteran balloon handlers will keep afloat this year. Both said it's one of the most thrill-seeking jobs you could imagine.

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