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How the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will look different this year

“Macy’s is reinventing the event for this moment in history,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Snoopy hovers over Central Park West during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014, in New York.
Snoopy hovers over Central Park West during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014, in New York.
Julio Cortez, Associated Press

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a celebration that’s nearly 100 years old and is considered a holiday staple in many households across the nation. Fortunately for us all, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will not be canceling the annual event, but it will radically change the way this year’s parade will unfold.

What’s changing?

  • The famous floats and balloons will not be traveling in their traditional 2.5 mile loop around the city, Today reports. Instead, this year’s parade will take place around Herald Square in Manhattan, where Macy’s flagship store is located.
  • The famous balloons will not be pulled by large group of workers. Instead they will be guided by specially-designed anchor vehicles.
  • According to Today, the parade show runners have cut the number of participants by about 75%. Those taking part in the event are only from the New York tri-state area and they will be socially distanced and wearing masks.
  • The show typically includes high school and college marching bands from around the country. Bands that were invited to perform at this year’s celebration are having their appearances deferred until 2021. Local professional marching bands will take their place, according to NBC News.
  • City officials are asking New Yorkers not to gather around the Herald Square area to watch in person.

Who’s performing?

  • The celebration will feature musical performances from Dolly Parton, Pentanonix, Patti LaBelle and more, per Today.
  • As in years past, Broadway performances will be featured in this year’s celebration. The 2020 Thanksgiving Day Parade will include pre-taped productions from “Hamilton,” “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Mean Girls,” and “Jagged Little Pill.”
  • Performers from several New York parades that were canceled because of the pandemic will have the chance to flaunt their stuff at this year’s Macy’s parade. Expect to see floats that would have been part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the West Indian Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Pride Parade, the Mermaid Parade and others, Today reports.
  • While the number of participants has been drastically reduced for the festivities this year, families can rest assured that Santa Claus will still make his annual appearance.
  • The event will be hosted by “NBC Today’s” Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker.

How to watch

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will air nationwide on NBC on Thursday, Nov. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones, according to the parade’s official website.

Key quotes

Susan Tercero, the executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade parade, told “Today”:

“It’s been a very interesting year, but our goal is to really deliver a wonderful, safe, entertaining event for everybody Thanksgiving morning. ... Safety is our No. 1 priority, and we can’t do this without people in the city of New York and the state really supporting us and guiding us along the way. ... What we’re really encouraging (is) that everybody (stays) home. This is not something to watch for New Yorkers in the streets, it’s something to watch safely from their homes.”

In a recent coronavirus briefing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, per NBC News:

“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.”