Let’s have a parade.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day Parade was more of a made-for-TV event. The usual 2.5-mile parade route lined with about 3.5 million spectators was nixed to focus all of the activity in front of the television cameras at Herald Square, instead. There were also none of the usual marching bands, or participants under the age of 18.
But this year, the retailer plans to return to its Turkey Day tradition with the pomp and circumstance that Americans have come to expect over the last century. The giant character helium balloons, floats, marching bands, performers, celebrities and clowns will caper through NYC’s streets for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 25, and spectators will be able to watch in-person again — along with the TV audience tuning in from home.
“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City institution for more than nine decades, growing to become an icon of American pop culture as it annually marks the official start of the holiday season,” said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a press release shared on Wednesday. “For our 95th celebration, we are delighted to return this cherished holiday tradition closer to its original form as we march down the streets of New York City and into the homes of a nationwide audience.”
“[We] look forward to welcoming back Parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November.”
— NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio also praised the parade as, “a world-renowned celebration that ushers in the magic of being in New York City during the holiday season.” He added that, “[we] look forward to welcoming back Parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November.”
Macy’s said that it was following “the most up-to-date health guidelines” for its second pandemic parade, and noted that the city of New York would be responsible for managing public viewing locations and safety procedures. Those details will be announced at a later time.
The parade’s volunteer participants and staff have been pared down by 10% to 20% (approximately 800 to 1,600 participants) this year, and they must be vaccinated to be part of the parade, with a few exceptions that “may be made at the sole discretion of Macy’s and its medical consultant base don select extenuating circumstances,” the press release explained.
While the giant character balloons were either pre-taped for the broadcast last year, or anchored down by specially-rigged vehicles instead of 80 to 100 trained volunteers apiece, this year the balloon handlers will be back to lead the helium giants along the parade route.
What’s more, all participants will wear face coverings and additional protective equipment, with some possible exceptions being made for singers and musicians performing down the route or for the national broadcast. Parade organizers are still deliberating whether to hold the Macy’s Balloon Inflation event on the upper West Side, however.
And details on the precise public viewing locations and guidelines will be announced in November at macys.com/parade.
The Macy’s announcement comes as the number of children and teens with COVID-19 has passed 250,000 for first time since start of pandemic, and the number of COVID-related hospitalizations in the U.S. over Labor Day weekend were more than double the number recorded during the holiday weekend last year.