The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be virtual this year

It is the first time since World War II that paraders won‘t march down New York streets

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will stream virtually this year amid the coronavirus pandemic’s long-lasting reign of terror in the United States. Organizers made the announcement Monday nearly 2 months before the event. The Thanksgiving parade began in 1924 and grew to be the world’s largest parade. It is also tied as the second oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. The 3-hour long parade is held in Manhattan and ends outside Macy’s Herald Square. It has been televised nationally since 1953, making 2020 the first year since World War II that paraders won’t march down New York streets. According to Macy’s press release, “Thanksgiving at Macy’s will be different this year.” It continued, “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcasted for all of America to enjoy from their homes. This cherished American tradition will feature many of the floats, balloons, and entertainers that viewers have come to love.”

93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade©GettyImages

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference Monday and announced, “It will not be the same parade we‘re used to.” Blasio continued, ”[Macy’s is] reinventing the event for this moment in history. And you will be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online — not a live parade, but something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving Day.” Due to COVID-19, Blasio explained, “We still can’t have the kind of large gatherings that are some of the high points that this year and any year would normally have. The parade and the major community events, those kinds of things, still have to wait.” Although “there are some things we still can’t do” Blasio is hopeful things will go back to normal and said he is “looking forward to a lot of them coming back in 2021.”

Following Blasio’s announcement, Macy’s released the following details about the event:

  • The overall number of participants will be reduced by approximately 75%, splitting the remaining participants over two days
  • All participants will be appropriately socially distanced during performances and be required to wear face coverings and additional personal protective equipment depending on their role
  • Shifting to a television-broadcast-only production with staging for Parade elements focused solely in and around the Herald Square area of Midtown Manhattan
  • The traditional 2.5-mile Parade route will not be utilized this year
  • No participant in the Parade will be under 18 years of age
  • Previously selected regional High School and College Marching Bands performances will be deferred to the 2021 Macy’s Parade, with locally-based professional marching and musical ensembles taking musical duties in the lineup
  • Macy’s traditional Giant Balloon Inflation public event on Wednesday will not take place
  • Macy’s signature giant character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80-100 handlers and instead employ an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD

The 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air nationwide on NBC-TV, Thursday, November 26 from 9 a.m. to noon, in all time zones.

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