NEW YORK – Spectators took to the streets of Manhattan again Thursday for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after last year’s performance was reduced and closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other U.S. cities are holding parades, but the New York event has become part of the holiday tradition, which according to Macy’s is televised across the country to about 50 million viewers ahead of their Thanksgiving meals.
The giant helium balloons depicting cartoon characters and toys are typically the main attraction, and this year’s competition adds newcomers like Grogu, otherwise known as Baby Yoda from the Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian, and Ada, the young scientist from the Netflix series Ada Twist, scientist.
The classic Astronaut Snoopy reappeared in this year’s parade, the ninth version of the Snoopy balloon, according to Macy’s website.
In all, there were 15 balloons guided by marchers holding reins, the longest of which measured 72 feet (22 meters), Macy’s said.
On the ground, between marching bands and dancers, 28 floats drove the 4-mile route from Central Park West to the Macy’s store on 34th Street, with fan favorites such as the Sesame Street Muppets, Miss America and rockbank Alien.
While it’s exclusively a television event for most of the country, it’s one of the largest annual gatherings in New York City along with New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and the LGBTQ Pride Parade. New York police do not give estimates of audience sizes, but boosters of such events require millions of spectators.
Like the balloons, these numbers may be inflated, given that the entire borough of Manhattan’s population is 1.6 million, in a city of 8.4 million.
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