Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade faces changes for the first time since 1924


NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE — Pictured: Tom Turkey float at the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday November 28, 2019 — (Photo by: Ralph Bavaro/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Kaitlyn Bloemer, Photographer and Reporter

Everyone knows the scene. Millions line up for the almost 3 mile parade around New York on Thanksgiving, known as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. This parade annually draws in almost 3 million spectators on the sidewalks alone, and another 50 million on air. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and New York governor Bill De Blasio’s orders, the parade will be almost completely virtual this coming November. 

Although saddened by the changes this year, Macy’s is still dedicated to providing a perfect holiday welcome this year. In a statement, executive producer of the parade Susan Tercero said “Macy’s believes in celebration and the joy of marking milestone moments with family and friends. The Macy’s Parade is our love letter and gift to the City of New York and the nation. Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families. While it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose — to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation.” Mayor de Blasio also added that “New York City is always proud to join Macy’s to ring in the holiday season with New Yorkers and viewers around the world. We’ve worked closely with the Macy’s team on a safe and creative plan this year, and we look forward to keeping this tradition going on Thanksgiving Day.” 

One may be wondering how it is even possible to have a parade completely virtually. Macy’s had dedicated their time to try and capture the same wonder they do with a parade under normal circumstances. First of all, the parade route has been shortened tremendously, and will be filmed mostly in or around Herald Square. The number of live performers has been reduced almost 75 percent, with  most of the live performers filming  their bits beforehand. These bits will be spliced into the livestream to avoid everyone gathering at the same time. However, there still will be a select few allowed to walk the route as long as they are tested, follow the CDC guidelines, and wear protective equipment. Along with this, no performer will be allowed to film if they are under the age of 18.The speciality characters, suchs as the funky clowns and Santa Claus, will still be seen in the parade, though it has not yet been determined if they will be filmed or allowed to go live with the balloons.  Any band that was invited to play in the parade this year has been given a deferred invite to the 2021 parade, so long as we go back to normal by then. The classic balloons that fly through the streets also will undergo some changes to fit these special circumstances. The annual balloon inflation, where thousands gather to watch the balloons take life, has been canceled. Only essential personnel are allowed near the staging area to inflate the balloons, and then they are mandated to leave. No spectacular balloon handlers will be allowed in the parade either. Any balloon that wants to fly in the parade this year will have a specifically rigged truck to pull the balloon around the square as it is being filmed. The parade will still run on its usual schedule on Thanksgiving Day, airing on NBC from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Central Time.

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