CERRO GORDO COUNTY, Iowa - If you've ever seen the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, you know those balloons are massive.
Imagine trying to handle and guide one of those balloons that's over four stories tall and about nine bicycles wide, while also fighting possible wind gusts. While those handlers are primarily Macy's employees or sponsored by Macy's, some North Iowa women will get the chance to be those handlers.
The '5K Virgins Group' is a group of five friends that set out to do activities that are on a bucket list, like running a 5K (hence the group's name), skydiving, rock climbing, awarded a chance on Ellen Degeneres' Ellen Tube and even competing on Ellen's Game of Games. Being a handler in the parade is on Nancy Lund's list.
"For me, it's not always Thanksgiving Day without the balloons. And I'd always wanted to get a chance to get to be a balloon handler. How cool is that? To be able to help fly this giant balloon down the streets of New York, and have everybody in the nation see you do it?"
While on a flight to Los Angeles for taping an episode of Ellen's Game of Games last year, her friend and fellow group member Diane Arndt sparked a conversation with a passenger seated next to her. Little did Arndt know that she would encounter the event coordinator with the Target Center, just by sheer luck, and shared Lund's desire to be a balloon handler.
"Randomly, I said I wish she worked for Macy's. She asked 'why', and I said it was because one of the things on our list is to do this. And she got this strange twinkle in her eye and she goes, 'you're not going to believe this, but I might be able to hook you up. I happen to know somebody that's with Macy's.'"
The representative reached out to that person at Macy's, and the group has been in contact with them since, including instructions on how to properly handle the 'bone' that's attached to the balloon, at waist high and right next to your body, as well as what to do if it starts to tug.
The women, plus their daughters, will be among 90 handlers holding the new 'Green Eggs and Ham' balloon along the parade route.