Macy’s Parade is back this Thanksgiving, with no kids on floats

When the coronavirus boomed in New York City last year, the typical fanfare of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was cut: The route shrank to one block, the number of participants was reduced by several thousand people and the public was told to stay at home. .

It could hardly be called a parade. There was not so much a procession as a series of struts across the runway for the television cameras. The broadcast was filmed and edited over three days to give the impression of a seamless three-hour program.

This year, while the city reports that more than 80 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated, the parade is expected to return in all its helium-filled splendor and the corporate brand’s Christmas spirit – with an asterisk: Children under 12 are not allowed to enter. participate in the procession itself. They will, however, be admitted as spectators along the two-and-a-half mile parade route, as well as the ceremonial inflation of the balloons on Wednesday afternoon around the American Museum of Natural History.

Their absence is somewhat odd in an event that features stars like Pikachu, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Papa Smurf. Usually, it’s kids riding a float that looks like it’s made out of Lego, or accompanying the Green Giant’s float, dressed as flowers and pumpkins.

But this year, the 95th Macy’s Parade isn’t quite typical. Macy’s announced in September that everyone taking part in the parade must be vaccinated. It wasn’t until about three weeks before Thanksgiving that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. check out the balloon inflation on the Upper West Side as they come with a fully vaccinated adult.

To plan costumes and other logistics, the parade organizers needed to know early on who would be riding the floats, said Will Coss, the event’s executive producer.

“We had to make some decisions well before our parade day to ensure the health and safety of all participants was respected,” said Coss. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t have that specific contingent of young children.”

In recent years, that contingent has typically been fewer than 200 children, some as young as 7, who are linked with Macy’s employees and parade volunteers, Coss said.

Two years ago, some of those kids waved from the back of a bejeweled hot pink carriage pulled by a Tyrannosaurus rex or danced energetically on a Sour Patch Kids-branded float, while others stared shyly at the crowd as Ciara performed alongside Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This year, the young people swinging from floats will be vaccinated teens and teens – so viewers may expect less unadulterated joy and wide-eyed wonder – but the parade organizers insist the change is small in a year when the live program and carefully choreographed fanfare is back.

“That same youthful spirit is still an important part of this year’s show,” said Wesley Whatley, the parade’s creative producer.

After last year, the ranks have largely recovered.

About 6,500 people will work on the parade, less than the normal 8,000, but much more than last year’s 960. The number of giant balloons is back to 15 and the floats to 28, roughly what it was two years ago, after a cut last year. And 10 marching bands, many of which were banned from traveling from their high schools and colleges across the country last time, will fill the streets.

It has been a long wait for the musicians, who were told in the spring of 2019 that they would be performing in Manhattan.

“We jumped and screamed and hugged,” said Zoe Huntoon, a mellophonist from Frankfort, Illinois, who was a sophomore at the time. “Then in 2020 it slowly dawned on us that it wouldn’t be possible.”

But this week, Huntoon, who is now a senior, and about 200 band members board charter buses for the long drive to New York City.

While the majority of the procession and performances will be live, some of the show will be taped, as it does every year, Whatley said.

On Thanksgiving morning, Broadway performers are back on 34th Street to entertain audiences with songs from “Six,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” and “Wicked.” Last year, these performances were filmed without cheering, bunched-up fans.

The televised parade, which starts at 9 a.m. on NBC, Telemundo and Peacock, will feature the Rockettes, Carrie Underwood, Mickey Guyton, Kristin Chenoweth, Jon Batiste and Nelly. (Unless they sing, performers must be masked.)

Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance, the Young People’s Chorus of NYC and a group of competitive rope jumpers who will make the entire parade route their playground will be among the younger participants.

A contingent of parade volunteers is particularly giddy about the relaxed restrictions: the escorts herding balloons like the 43-meter Snoopy on Sixth Avenue. Last year, most of that work was done by a group of company cars.

A balloon volunteer, Teresa Kruszewski, became involved in the parade in 2008 after someone she met while on jury duty helped her secure the role. Kruszewski, 60, returns after missing last year’s parade as the pilot of a new balloon, the title character of ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’, a Netflix children’s show. Kruszewski said she was concerned at first that her year off had made her rusty, but when she went to the Citi Field parking lot to test the balloon, her muscle memory kicked into action.

“It’s like riding a bike,” she said. “Once I’m behind the balloon and I’ve got handlers around me and blowing whistles, it comes back.”

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