The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns Thursday for its 96th year and is expected to draw an estimated three million spectators who will line the streets of Manhattan hoping to catch a glimpse of the huge balloons, bands of music, the all-star artists and, of course, Santa Claus.
Typically around 6,500 people gather to work on the parade, which will follow a 2.5-mile route through New York City, beginning on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and ending in Herald Square. Unlike last year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will not require vaccinations for parade participants; instead, artists are required to take a Covid-19 test 24 hours prior to arrival.
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s festivities.
Who will broadcast the event?
The parade, which begins at 9 a.m., is being televised on NBC, Telemundo and the Peacock streaming service.
Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker of the “Today” show will host the parade, which ends at noon. But it’s unclear if Mr. Roker, who was recently hospitalized with a blood clot, according to his Instagram, will participate.
Where is the parade?
The festivities will kick off at West 77th Street and Central Park West, but there will be limited or no public viewing at that location.
Many fans arrive along the route hours early to get spots with unobstructed views of the performers. The best places to view the parade include Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Street, and Sixth Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Street.
You can find a detailed map of the route here.
Who will be in the parade?
Performers in the parade will include Paula Abdul, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Gloria Estefan, who will appear with her daughter and grandson. To close, Mariah Carey will sing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” just before the show concludes at Macy’s in Herald Square.
The Ballet Hispánico School of Dance will return, and several marching bands will perform, including the Bourbon County High School Marching Colonels and the Benedict College Marching Tiger Band of Distinction.
There will also be 27 giant balloons, a dozen more than last year, as well as seven hot air balloons and 31 floats. Some of the balloons will be as tall as four story buildings or as wide as six taxi cabs. Grogu, aka Baby Yoda, will be back for a second year, accompanied by his floating stroller.
In celebration of this year’s World Cup, “Striker the US Soccer Star” will make his debut. As tall as a two-story building and as wide as two taxi cabs, the balloon consists of a soccer player executing a quick bicycle kick.
Bluey, a pup from the hit Australian show, and Stuart the Minion will also make an appearance for the first time, drifting three to four stories above the crowd. A fan favorite will return, but it will come decked out in a new accessory. Greg Heffley, a character from the popular series “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, appearing for the thirteenth time, will be crouching next to a piece of moldy cheese.