Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade In NYC Is Going Virtual

2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Photo credit USA TODAY via Imagn Content Services, LLC
By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is going virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Macy's said the 94th annual celebration will shift to a television-only presentation that will still feature its famous giant character balloons, floats, and street performers "heralding the arrival of the holiday season with the one-and-only Santa Claus."

"It will not be the same parade we're used to, it will be a different kind of event," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily briefing Monday. "They're reinventing the event for this moment in history and you will be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online, not a live parade, but something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving Day."

“Macy’s believes in celebration and the joy of marking milestone moments with family and friends. The Macy’s Parade is our love letter and gift to the City of New York and the nation. 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,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “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.”

De Blasio said the city has worked closely with Macy's on a "safe and creative" plan to keep the annual holiday tradition going.

Macy's said it has "meticulously reviewed every area of the Thanksgiving Day playbook to put in place enhanced health and safety practices that align with CDC guidelines, as well as local and state government protocols."

The following changes are being implemented:

  • Reducing the overall number of participants by approximately 75%, and splitting the remaining participants over two days
  • All participants will be appropriately socially distanced during performances and be required to wear face coverings and additional personal protective equipment depending on their role
  • Shifting to a television-broadcast-only production with staging for Parade elements focused solely in/ around the Herald Square area of Midtown Manhattan
  • The traditional 2.5-mile Parade route will not be utilized this year
  • No participant in the Parade will be under 18 years of age
  • Previously selected regional High School and College Marching Bands performances will be deferred to the 2021 Macy’s Parade, with locally based professional marching and musical ensembles taking musical duties in the lineup
  • Macy’s traditional Giant Balloon Inflation public event on Wednesday will not take place
  • Macy’s signature giant character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80-100 handlers and instead employ an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD

The parade will be broadcast nationwide on NBC-TV, Thursday, November 26, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, in all time zones. 

Over the summer, Macy's also adjusted its annual fireworks display for the 4th of July. Fireworks were spread out across the five boroughs over several days in an attempt to deter mass gatherings. 

A televised program featured highlights from the various fireworks displays along with a live event at the Empire State Building.

The parade is the latest large public event in the city to fall victim to the pandemic. 

New York Comic Con and the TCS New York City Marathon also won't be happening this fall. 

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the world famous Rockettes has also been canceled for the first time since the show's debut in 1933.

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