Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to be virtual this year

Entertainment
  • The Olaf balloon floats past Radio City Music Hall during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in 2018. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • SpongeBob Squarepants makes his way down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The Grinch balloon floats over Central Park West during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)
  • Workers inflate the Spider-Man balloon for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon makes its way down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The Elf on The Shelf balloon makes its down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The How To Train Your Dragon balloon floats down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The Hello Kitty balloon floats down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The Sonic the HedgeHog balloon floats down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — A Macy’s Thanksgiving parade reimagined for the coronavirus pandemic will feature floats, performers and giant balloons along a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store, Macy’s officials announced Monday.

The spectacle will be broadcast as usual from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern time on NBC and will include both live and recorded elements, Macy’s officials said.

“Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families,” Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, said in a prepared statement.

She added, “While it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose — to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation.”

Macy’s similarly remade its traditional July Fourth fireworks show this year, swapping the big one-night spectacle for a series of smaller fireworks displays.

The 2 1/2-mile Thanksgiving parade route will be axed in favor of a short stroll for the cameras, Macy’s spokesperson Orlando Veras said.

The giant cartoon-character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80 to 100 handlers each and will instead be tethered to specialized vehicles that have been tested and approved by the city police and transportation departments, Veras said.

Most of the parade’s performers will be locally based to cut down on travel, Veras said. High school and college marching bands that had been invited to perform will be deferred to 2021. In accordance with coronavirus restrictions, all performers will be required to maintain social distancing and wear face masks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked Macy’s officials for their effort to stage the parade despite COVID-19 restrictions.

“They are reinventing the event for this moment in history,” de Blasio said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “And you will be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online.”

The Macy’s parade has been a traditional holiday season kickoff for more than 90 years and usually attracts throngs of tourists and locals who line the parade route to gawk at inflated characters like Snoopy or Felix the cat.

This year’s lineup of balloon characters and human performers will be announced later, Veras said.

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