EMT to take ride on float
By TIM PRESTON - The Independent
NEW YORK CITY November 25, 2009 08:42 pm
Monica Young will be one of the dozens of people who help guide a massive Ronald McDonald balloon through the streets of New York City during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade today.
Young, who was born and raised in Louisa and now works as an EMT for Boyd County EMS, says the task fits perfectly with her “Dream big and fly high” philosophy. Her role as a balloon escort actually began with a spontaneous decision to travel to New York City to experience New Year’s in Times Square.
“I had always wanted to experience the ball drop. I got off work at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and was debating a spontaneous journey,” she recalled, explaining she didn’t want to look back at the opportunity with regret in 10 years. “I only had $25 to my name when I made the decision.”
A friend donated $100 for the trip and Young said she was thrilled to discover a co-worker had deposited her paycheck for her before she even arrived in the Big Apple. Friends in the city had invited her to visit and provided a place to stay, she said, explaining she was guided toward a parking spot in New Jersey and traveled into the city on the subway, emerging on 42nd Street with a view of the illuminated New Year’s ball.
While there, Young attended an open house hosted by a longtime balloon team handler, and asked what qualifications would be required to help handle a balloon in the famous parade. She was advised to apply and soon received a training DVD.
“Right now I’m in Queens and heading into Manhattan,” she said, explaining she wasn’t able to attend any of the preliminary events featuring the parade’s balloons and will be making her debut as a handler during the big event.
Her assignment is to help guide the clown made famous by McDonald’s advertising, and she will be wearing a costume with several layers of insulative clothing beneath as part of the show. Each rope ends with “the bone,” she said, explaining a “dog bone-shaped” handle is attached to the end of each security strand.
Each balloon requires 75 to 125 handlers in addition to two or three vehicles to make it through the 2.5 mile parade route, Young said. While the job is relatively straight-forward, Young said handlers must be aware of their environment.
“Weather, of course, is the main thing,” she said, noting wind is the enemy of every balloon in the parade.
“For no reason whatsoever do we stop at intersections due to the crosswinds,” she said, noting the city’s intersections tend to be a bit like valleys in the mountains, channeling strong air currents between each.
The experience will be one of many Young is pleased to have enjoyed.
“I am an adventure seeker,” she said. “I love to experience life. Even if I face adversity I say ‘Truck on.’ Doing this, I hope to make more friends and connections that could lead to something else. I mean, I came to New York to watch the ball drop and now I’m going to be in the parade. Who knows what might come from this?”
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Daily Independent Ashland, Ky