Balloons, bands and Santa: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ushers in holiday season in New York

by Sophia Chen
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Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City marked the beginning of the holiday season with a spectacle that delighted crowds both on the streets and watching on national television. Iconic characters like Snoopy and SpongeBob SquarePants floated high above the city, while marching bands filled the streets along the parade route.

Commencing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the parade made its way past Central Park, drawing enthusiastic crowds and a vast national television viewership before culminating in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street. Cher, a renowned Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning artist, was among the prominent performers, and she graced the stage just prior to the grand entrance of Santa Claus, symbolizing the parade’s conclusion.

The star-studded lineup featured other celebrities and musical groups such as Jon Batiste, Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Jessie James Decker, Pentatonix, and Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke. Additionally, Broadway show casts took part in captivating performances as part of the parade’s entertainment.

This year’s parade introduced new balloons, including Leo the lizard from a Netflix film, towering at more than 40 feet in height, as well as beloved favorites like SpongeBob, standing at an impressive 44 feet tall. Snoopy, a perennial parade favorite, made a special appearance as Beagle Scout Snoopy, commemorating the 50th anniversary of his debut in the Peanuts comics.

However, the parade isn’t limited to the skies; it also features over two dozen floats, interspersed with marching bands from various regions of the country, and numerous clown crews among the 8,000 participants, according to organizers.

The streets were lined with thousands of spectators, bundled up in coats on the sunny morning. Children perched on their parents’ shoulders, eagerly cheering as Snoopy, SpongeBob, and Leo the Lizard floated by. Families like the Browns, who drove 30 miles from Westfield, New Jersey, to be there, shared the joy of witnessing the parade live.

Terri Brown, along with her husband and children, aged 3, 5, and 8, expressed her excitement, saying, “I’ve always wanted to bring them here since I used to come as a kid. I’m happy it’s good weather.”

For some, like Ross Greenstein from Michigan, the parade had been a television tradition until this year. Greenstein and his family, including his daughter studying law in New York, made a 10-hour journey to experience the parade in person. He described the moment as surreal, having grown up watching the parade every Thanksgiving.

This year marked the 97th edition of the parade since its inception in 1924. The broadcast was hosted by Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker from “Today” and was televised on NBC.

Even President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden joined the festivities, calling in to NBC during the parade. President Biden shared a message of gratitude for living in a nation of such greatness and encouraged unity and problem-solving in the face of challenges, emphasizing that the United States is indeed a remarkable nation to be thankful for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Thanksgiving Parade

What is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual event held in New York City to celebrate Thanksgiving and kick off the holiday season. It features a procession of giant balloons, floats, marching bands, and celebrity performances.

When and where does the parade take place?

The parade typically takes place on Thanksgiving Day, which is the fourth Thursday in November. It follows a route through Manhattan, starting on the Upper West Side, passing Central Park, and ending in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street.

Who are some of the notable performers in the parade?

The parade showcases a variety of performers, including renowned celebrities and musical groups. In past parades, artists like Cher, Jon Batiste, Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Jessie James Decker, Pentatonix, and Miss America have participated, providing entertainment for the spectators.

What are some of the popular balloons in the parade?

The parade is famous for its giant character balloons. Some beloved balloons include Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Leo the Lizard. The balloons are a highlight of the event and often feature new additions or special versions to mark significant anniversaries.

How long has the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade been held?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has a long history and is a cherished tradition. It has been held annually since 1924, making it one of the oldest and most iconic parades in the United States.

How can I watch the parade?

The parade is broadcast on NBC and is typically hosted by television personalities. It can be watched on television by tuning in to the network on Thanksgiving morning. Additionally, spectators can attend the parade in person along the streets of Manhattan.

Does the President of the United States participate in the parade?

While the President may not physically participate in the parade, it is not uncommon for the President and First Lady to make a televised appearance or phone call during the event to convey a Thanksgiving message to the nation, as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden did in a recent parade.

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