The balloons were in the sky and the marching bands took to the streets for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, but coronavirus restrictions meant it was without the throngs of people usually scrambling for a view.
Instead of its typical path through Manhattan, this year’s parade was kept to the area in front of Macy’s flagship store and aimed at a television audience instead of live crowds.
“We’ll be working very closely with the New York City agencies, NYPD and the Mayor’s Office to ensure that the area where we will be filming will be locked down. So, we’re encouraging everybody to please stay at home. It’s the safest way to view this parade and watch it from your televisions like the rest of the country,” said Susan Tercero, the executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
There were some familiar balloon faces, of course, including Snoopy, Ronald McDonald, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
But the bigger balloons were missing the numerous handlers who would normally be walking underneath and holding the ropes. This year, they were attached to vehicles that kept them moving and decreased the number of people needed.
And the typical two-and-a-half mile long route has been trimmed down, with the live portions of today’s production happening without spectators in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th street.
Despite the parade route being shortened and blocked off to onlookers, some people did gather to try to get a glimpse of some of the festivities.
“It’s disappointing, but you know what, I think it’s great that Macy’s is going ahead and producing the parade,” said Valerie Wagner. “I think it’s great and it’s going to be uplifting to everybody to show that life, life goes on in these trying times.”
“We know we’re supposed to stay socially distanced, I think we’re doing a great job of that, we’re following the rules, mayor and governor. We’re here to enjoy like everyone else,” said Marilyn Greene.
A number of entertainers performed, including Pentatonix, Keke Palmer and Sofia Carson, and a slew of Broadway shows were represented in taped performances from their casts.
Even with the pandemic protocols, the fact that the parade took place made it a rare festivity in a city that has seen most of its major events cancelled over the last year because of the virus.
The parade organizers recognized that reality, including representatives of some of the New York City parades that hadn’t been able to happen — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and NYC Pride March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.