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In NYC, Thanksgiving Parade a 'Sign of Our Rebirth'

Spectators were back, with precautions, after COVID marred last year's Macy's spectacular
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 25, 2021 12:20 PM CST
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Makes 'Comeback' in Full Force
Crews pump helium into the Pikachu and Eevee balloons in New York on Wednesday in preparation for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

(Newser) – Crimped by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returned Thursday in full, though with precautions. Balloons, floats, marching bands, clowns, and performers—and, of course, Santa Claus—once again began wending Thursday morning though 2 1/2 miles of Manhattan streets, instead of being confined to one block or even being pretaped as they were last year. Spectators, shut out in 2020, also lined the route again, per the AP. High school and college marching bands from around the country were invited back to the lineup; most of last year's performers were locally based to cut down on travel. The giant balloons, tethered to vehicles last year, got their costumed handlers back.

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New balloon giants joining the lineup include the title character from the Netflix series Ada Twist, Scientist; the Pokemon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sled (Pikachu has appeared before, in different form); and Grogu, aka "Baby Yoda," from the television show The Mandalorian. Entertainers and celebrities included Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Schrier, the band Foreigner, and many others. Several Broadway musical casts and the Radio City Rockettes also performed.

"Last year was obviously symbolic," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing Wednesday. "It wasn't everything we would have liked to see in a parade, but they kept it going. This year, the parade's back at full strength." He added: "It's going to be a great sign of our rebirth." The Thanksgiving parade is the latest US holiday event to make a comeback as vaccines, familiarity, and sheer frustration made officials and some of the public more comfortable with big gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic. Still, safety measures continued. Parade staffers and volunteers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, though some singers and performers were allowed to shed them.

There was no inoculation requirement for spectators, but Macy's and the city encouraged them to cover their faces. A popular pre-parade spectacle—the inflation of the giant balloons—was limited to vaccinated viewers. Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from streets to rooftops. Cars were blocked from the parade route with sand-filled garbage trucks, other heavy vehicles, and approximately 360,000 pounds of concrete barriers. Bomb-detecting dogs, bomb squad officers, heavy-weapons teams, radiation and chemical sensors, and more than 300 extra cameras also were dispatched to the parade route, per NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso.

(Read more Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stories.)

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