Personal Spectators Return to New York’s Thanksgiving Parade

A Greg Heffley balloon flies during the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, New York City, US Nov. 25, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK — Spectators once again lined the streets of Manhattan for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after last year’s spectacle was downsized and closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other American cities hold parades, but the New York event has become part of the holiday tradition and is broadcast across the country to some 50 million viewers ahead of their Thanksgiving meals, according to Macy’s.

The giant helium balloons with cartoon characters and toys are typically the main attraction, with this year’s pageant featuring newcomers such as Grogu, otherwise known as Baby Yoda from the Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian, and Ada, the young scientist from Netflix. series Ada Twist, scientist.

The classic Astronaut Snoopy made another appearance in this year’s parade, the ninth version of the Snoopy balloon, according to the Macy’s website.

In all, there were 15 balloons led by protesters holding chains, the longest of which was 72 feet (22 meters), Macy’s said.

On the ground, among marching bands and dancers, 28 floats rode the 2.5-mile route from Central Park West to the Macy’s store on 34th Street, featuring fan favorites such as the Sesame Street Muppets, Miss America, and the rock bank foreigner.

Although strictly a televised event for most of the country, in New York City it is one of the largest annual gatherings, along with New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, and the LGBTQ Pride Parade. The New York Police Department does not provide estimates of crowd size, but promoters of such events claim millions of personal onlookers.

Like the balloons, those numbers can be inflated, as the entire borough of Manhattan has 1.6 million residents, in a city of 8.4 million.

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