The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is set to return to its pre-pandemic glory as rehearsals for the annual event were underway this week.
This year’s 95th annual parade will feature 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 36 novelty and heritage inflatables, more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands and nine performance groups and the ever-popular Santa Claus.
Parade rehearsals for performances were underway on Tuesday. NYC residents and tourists watched the pre-parade balloon inflation from noon to 6pm.
The parade is set to broadcast Thursday morning on NBC from 9am to 12pm with hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker.
‘For our 95th celebration, Macy’s has created a spectacle to remember featuring a dazzling array of high-flying balloons, animated floats and incredible performers,’ Will Coss, the executive producer of the parade, said in a statement.
‘We can’t wait to help New York City and the nation kick-off the holiday season with the return of this cherished tradition.’
This year’s upcoming parade comes after the downsizing of last year’s which had cut thousands of participants, limited the route to one block, and of course requested spectators to watch the anticipated holiday tradition solely on their television screens.
With the increase in adult vaccination rates, everything has mostly returned to normal with the exception of children under 12 being able to participate from the parade as they have just been made eligible to receive the shot.
People walk by an inflated helium balloon of Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda, from the Star Wars show The Mandalorian on Wednesday in NYC
Crews pump helium into a balloon of Pikachu and Eevee from the show Pokemon
The Ada Twist Scientist balloon is seen being inflated the day before the parade
Papa Smurf from the comic strip The Smurfs will be back for this 41st year complete with his red cap, white beard and of course blue smile
The character Goku from Dragonball Z will be featured and is considered one of the greatest Anime characters of all time
Parade workers are seen inflating the Baby Yoda balloon which will be making its debut for the first time ever on Thursday
Crowds watch as 15 giant character balloons are inflated ahead of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Spectator Jason Block watches the balloon inflation with his dog Luca
This year’s parade will kick off at 9am at West 77th Street and Central Park West and end in front of Macy’s Herald Square
New balloon giants joining the line-up include Ada Twist, Scientist; the pint-sized hero from ‘The Mandalorian’ and the Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sled.
There will also be new floats led by the cast of ‘Girls5eva’ – Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps – Nelly and Jordan Fisher, while Jon Batiste will be on an alligator-themed float celebrating Louisiana’s music, food and culture.
Other celebrities on hand will include Carrie Underwood, Jimmie Allen, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas, Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, Foreigner, Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Chris Lane, Miss America Camille Schrier, Muppets from ‘Sesame Street’ and the three past and current hosts of ‘Blue’s Clues’ – Steve Burns, Donovan Patton and Josh De la Cruz.
Broadway will be represented by the casts of ‘Six’, ‘Chicago,’ ‘Waitress,’ ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ and ‘Wicked.’
The Rockettes will be there, as will the cast of the upcoming NBC live production of ‘Annie.’
Country music singer Mickey Guyton performs during parade rehearsals on Tuesday at Macy’s Herald Square
New Orleans singer Jon Batiste will sing and represent his home state on a Louisiana float. He is seen during rehearsals
German singer-songwriter Zoe Wees prepares to make her parade debut
Former Destiny Child’s member Kelly Rowland will also be performing at the parade on Thursday
Some of the returning balloons will be ‘The Boss Baby,’ ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ Chase from ‘Paw Patrol,’ the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald, Red Titan from ‘Ryan’s World,’ Papa Smurf, Sonic the Hedgehog and SpongeBob SquarePants.
The Macy´s parade has been a traditional holiday season kickoff and spectators often line up a half-dozen deep along the route to cheer about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, entertainers and marching bands.
This year’s parade will kick off at 9am at West 77th Street and Central Park West and end in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
Last year, the usual 2 1/2-mile route through crowded Manhattan was scrapped in favor of concentrating events to a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer´s flagship Manhattan store.
Many performances were pre-taped and most of the parade’s performers were locally based to cut down on travel.
The balloons were tethered to specialized vehicles instead of being controlled by handlers.
The largest float in the parade is called ‘Celebration Gator’ which is 60-feet long and meant to represent the state of Louisiana. This year’s new parade floats were revealed on November 16 at a warehouse in Moonachie, New Jersey
A float representing the Peacock channel with its mascot glitzed up in colorful paint and sparkles
A float for the Kalahari Resorts & Conventions featuring a surfing elephant, swimming octopus and majestic rhino
A float featuring Captain Minnie Mouse aboard the Disney cruise ship, saluting to parade patrons
A Heinz float featuring fun-filled inflatables representing the typical Thanksgiving bill of fare
As in years past, the New York Police Department said it will block off all vehicle access points to the parade route with sand-filled garbage trucks, other heavy vehicles and approximately 360,000 pounds of concrete barriers.
Thousands of officers are assigned to the parade route, including counterterrorism teams.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said there were no specific, credible threats to the parade.
The star of Macy’s holiday campaign Tiptoe will be featured as a character balloon this year at an unveiling that took place on November 13 in New York
McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald is coming back for another year after making his debut in 1987
Macy’s bandleader bear Toni will also be marching in Thursday’s parade