Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade continues with tradition, adds new safety measures

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NEW YORK (AP) — The pandemic may have upended most traditions this holiday season, but the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still marched on with balloons, dancers, floats, Broadway shows and Santa all heavily tweaked for safety.

The biggest change this year was that the usual 2 1/2-mile route through crowded Manhattan has been scrapped in favor of concentrating events to a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store.

In addition to “Ain’t Too Proud,” the parade featured performances from the Broadway casts of “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls” and “Jagged Little Pill,” a musical built around the music of Alanis Morissette. The Broadway performances were taped days before the parade.

This year’s lineup of balloons included Snoopy, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “The Elf on the Shelf,” Chase from “Paw Patrol,” Pikachu, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald, SpongeBob SquarePants and “Trolls.” New this time are “The Boss Baby” and Red Titan from “Ryan’s World.”

The giant cartoon-character balloons were flown without the traditional 80 to 100 rope-pulling handlers assigned to each inflatable and will instead be tethered to specialized vehicles.

Pentatonix, Ally Brooke, Keke Palmer, Sofia Carson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jordin Sparks performed, and there were floats from “Blue’s Clues,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and Lego. There was also a New York City Ballet ballerina who performed to the “The Nutcracker,” an all-female samba drumline and acrobats from “The Big Apple Circus,” and the Rockettes were out in force. The parade ended with an appearance from Santa Claus.

Another change this year was the decision to spotlight many of the New York City parades that were canceled in the spring and fall due to the pandemic — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and NYC Pride March.

“We’re going to be highlighting them, and we’re going to be really giving them a chance to shine,” said Tercero. “You’re going to be able to see creativity in this entertainment come to life that has sort of been dormant for the past seven months.”

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