Affected by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday is back in full, though…
Balloons, floats, bands, clowns, performers – and of course Santa Claus – moved once again through the nearly four kilometers of Manhattan streets, rather than being confined to a single building or sometimes pre-recorded, as they were last year.
Spectators, who closed in 2020, lined the road again. High school and college rally teams from across the country were invited back into the lineup; Most of last year’s artists were local to cut back on travel. Giant balloons, strapped to cars last year, have brought their uniformed workers back.
For US President Joe Biden, the show’s full return was a sign of renewal, and he called NBC anchor Al Roker on air to say so.
“After two years, we’re back. America is back. There’s nothing we can’t beat,” Biden said by phone from Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he was watching the broadcast with his family.
The Thanksgiving Day Parade is the latest event of the US holiday to re-emerge as vaccinations, familiarity and sheer frustration have made officials and some of the public more comfortable with large gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic.
NYC Mayor Says: “Parade Show ‘A Sign of Our Rebirth’
“The past year has been clearly symbolic. It wasn’t everything we wanted to see in a parade, but they continued to do so,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing on Wednesday. “This year, the show is back in full force.”
“It would be a great sign of our rebirth.”
Safety conditions were part of the plan — organizers said show staff and volunteers should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, although some singers and performers could dispose of them.
There was no need to inoculate the spectators, but Macy’s encouraged them to cover their faces. It was a common pre-show scene – giant balloons inflating – restricted to vaccinated viewers.
The Thanksgiving party also comes days after an SUV driver drove a motor during a Christmas parade in a Milwaukee suburb, killing six people and injuring more than 60. Authorities said the driver, accused of premeditated murder, was turning away from police after a local dispute. .
De Blasio said Wednesday that there is no specific credible threat to the Thanksgiving march, but that the NYPD’s security measures will be extensive, as usual.
Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from the streets to the rooftops. Cars were blocked from the parade path by garbage trucks full of sand and other heavy vehicles and about 163,000 kilograms of concrete barriers.
Inside the barricades, about 8000 participants, four dozen balloons of various sizes and dozens of floats took part in the parade.
New balloon giants joining the lineup include the title character from the Netflix series Ada Twist, scientist; Pokemon characters Pikachu and Evie on a sleigh (Pikachu appeared before, differently), and Grugo, aka Baby Yoda, from the TV show The Mandalorian.
New floats were coming from entities ranging from condiment maker Heinz to Peacock’s streaming service on NBCUniversal to the Louisiana Bureau of Tourism.
Artists and celebrities have been named Carrie Underwood, John Baptiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Shearer, The Foreign Band and many others. Several musical actors were also scheduled to perform on Broadway and Radio City Rocket.