Macy’s Parade: What Is Happening this Year?

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Harper Treschuk

In past years, large balloons and floats at parades like the UBS Downtown Spectacular in Stamford (pictured above) and the iconic Macy’s Parade marked off the start of the holiday season. This year, the parades will be different, but Macy’s is making sure to continue the tradition that many families have grown to love.

With the ongoing pandemic, holiday traditions this year are in jeopardy. Many are being altered, postponed, and even canceled. One of the most famous events of the year, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,  a must-watch in many households, is not immune to changes from the virus. Typically being a very popular event, with people crowding the streets of New York City to watch, the parade simply cannot be done in the same way as years past. Luckily, NBC and Macy’s have announced that the parade will still take place despite the pandemic.

The main question that arises with this announcement is how will they create a COVID-friendly system to allow the parade to happen safely? Without typical large crowds viewing the parade from the streets, the event will air as a television-only event nationwide on NBC and Telemundo on Thursday, November 26th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. There will be no live audience, but the TV special will be almost identical to years past. There will still be the same large balloons and floats we know and love, except they will be taped in and around the Herald Square area, rather than taking their usual 2.5 mile route.

There are still theatrical and musical performances scheduled during the parade like we have seen before. Some performances to look out for include those from the casts of the Broadway shows Hamilton, Ain’t Too Proud- The Life and Times of Temptations, Jagged Little Pill, and Mean Girls. The Radio City Rockettes will also showcase their annual performance. There will be other groups and marching bands performing; however, the selected highschool groups have been rescheduled to perform in the 2021 parade. 

Alongside the performances, celebrities will also be making cameos during the TV special. Some of the most notable names include Noah Cyrus, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Dolly Parton, Pentatonix, and Bebe Rexha. Keeping with tradition, the parade would not be complete without Santa Claus, who will still arrive on a float towards the end of the special. 

Many precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of those helping with the floats. Macy’s has addressed questions around the safety of the event, explaining that everyone involved will be COVID-19 tested, and get wellness checks before participating in the parade. Members will be socially distant during performances and required to wear face coverings. (Some roles will have other protocols to ensure that they can still perform and follow safety guidelines). The number of participants overall has been cut down by 88%, no one participating is under the age of 18, and most of those involved are from the tri-state area. 

With numerous protocols in place, Macy’s is going out of their way to ensure that the treasured annual parade will continue as a Thanksgiving tradition despite the pandemic.