New York (Associated Press)-Affected by the coronavirus pandemic last year, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will return in full on Thursday, despite precautions.
Balloons, floats, marching bands, clowns, and performers — and of course Santa Claus — will once again cross 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of Manhattan streets instead of being restricted to one block or sometimes pre-recorded last year.
Spectators who were turned away in 2020 can line up again. High school and college military bands from all over the country have been invited back to the lineup; most of last year’s performers were in the local area to reduce travel. The giant balloon attached to the vehicle last year is returning the uniformed operator.
“Last year was obviously symbolic. It was not everything we wanted to see in the parade, but they have been going on,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Wednesday. “This year, the military parade returned with a full load.”
“This will be an important sign of our rebirth,” he added.
The Thanksgiving Day Parade is the latest American holiday event to make a comeback, because vaccines, familiarity, and sheer frustration have made officials and some members of the public more comfortable with large gatherings during the ongoing pandemic.
Nevertheless, security measures continue. Parade staff and volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, but some singers and performers can wear masks. There is no vaccination requirement for the audience, but Macy’s encourages them to cover their faces. The popular pre-parade spectacle-the inflation of giant balloons-is limited to vaccinated spectators.
The Thanksgiving event also took place a few days after an SUV driver wreaked havoc in a Christmas parade in the suburbs of Milwaukee, killing 6 people and injuring more than 60 others. Authorities said the driver charged with intentional homicide was speeding up to flee the police after a family dispute.
De Blasio said on Wednesday that there is no credible, specific threat to the Thanksgiving Day parade, but the New York Police Department’s security measures will be as extensive as usual.
He said: “I have great confidence in the preparations made by the New York Police Department tomorrow to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from the street to the roof. Vehicles were blocked by garbage trucks filled with sand, other heavy vehicles, and approximately 360,000 pounds (163,000 kg) of concrete barriers outside the parade route.
The New York Police Department’s counter-terrorism director Martin Matraso said that bomb detection dogs, bomb disposal team officers, heavy weapons teams, radiation and chemical sensors, and more than 300 additional cameras were also dispatched to the parade route.
Inside the roadblock, there were about 8,000 participants in the parade, four dozen balloons of various sizes and two dozen floats.
New balloon giants joining the lineup include protagonists from the Netflix series “Ada Twist, Scientist”; Pokémon characters Pikachu and Ibrahimovic on the sled (Pikachu has appeared in different forms before), and from the TV show ” “The Mandalorian” Grogu, also known as “Baby Yoda”. The new floats come from entities such as condiment manufacturer Heinz, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, and the Louisiana Department of Tourism.
Artists and celebrities include Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Schrier, foreign bands, etc. Several Broadway musical actors and the Radio City Rockets will also perform.
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