Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade returns, with all the trimmings and safety precautions still in place

NEW YORK (AP) – Criminalized by the coronavirus pandemic last year, Macy’s Thanksgiving parade returned in full on Thursday, but with caution.

Balloons, floats, marching bands, clowns and performers – and, of course, Santa Claus – resumed circulating Thursday morning through 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) of Manhattan streets, instead of be confined to a block or sometimes pre-registered last year.

The spectators, excluded in 2020, have again aligned the course. Bands from high schools and universities across the country have been invited to return to the programming; most of last year’s performers were based locally to reduce travel. The giant balloons, attached to vehicles last year, have recovered their costumed handlers.

“Last year was obviously symbolic. It wasn’t all we would have liked to see in a parade, but they kept it going, ”Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday. “This year, the parade is back in force.

“It will be a great sign of our rebirth,” he added.

The Thanksgiving Parade is the latest holiday event in the United States to make a comeback, as vaccines, familiarity, and sheer frustration have made officials and parts of the public more comfortable with large gatherings in the midst of the current pandemic.

Yet security measures continued. Parade staff and volunteers were to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, although some singers and performers were allowed to get rid of them. There was no vaccination requirement for spectators, but Macy’s and the city encouraged them to cover their faces. A popular pre-parade show – the inflating of giant balloons – was limited to vaccinated viewers.

The Thanksgiving event also came days after an SUV driver drove through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing six people and injuring more than 60. Authorities said the driver, who was accused of intentional manslaughter, was walking away from the police after a domestic dispute.

De Blasio said on Wednesday that there was no credible and specific threat to the Thanksgiving parade, but that the New York Police Department’s security measures would be extended, as usual.

“I am very confident in what the NYPD has prepared to keep everyone safe,” he said.

Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from the streets to the rooftops. Cars were stranded on the parade route with garbage trucks filled with sand, other heavy vehicles, and approximately 360,000 pounds (163,000 kilograms) of concrete barriers.

Bomb detection dogs, bomb squad officers, heavy weapons teams, radiation and chemical sensors and more than 300 additional cameras were also dispatched to the parade route, the head of the parade said. NYPD Counterterrorism, Martine Materasso.

Inside the barricades, the parade has about 8,000 participants, four dozen balloons of different sizes and two dozen floats.

New balloon giants joining the lineup include the main character of the Netflix series “Ada Twist, Scientist”; Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sled (Pikachu has appeared in various forms before) and Grogu, aka “Baby Yoda”, from the TV show “The Mandalorian”. New tanks are coming from entities ranging from condiment maker Heinz and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service to the Louisiana Board of Tourism.

Artists and celebrities include Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Schrier, the group Foreigner and many more. Several Broadway musical actors and the Radio City Rockettes are also scheduled to perform.

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Susan W. Lloyd