Macy's parade returns, with all the trimmings
NEW YORK -- Crimped by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returned Thursday in full, though with precautions.
Balloons, floats, marching bands, clowns and performers -- and, of course, Santa Claus -- once again wended though 2½ miles of Manhattan streets, instead of being confined to one block or sometimes pre-taped last year.
Spectators, shut out in 2020, lined the route again. High school and college marching bands from around the country were invited back to the lineup; most of last year's performers were locally based to cut down on travel. The giant balloons, tethered to vehicles last year, got their costumed handlers back.
To President Joe Biden, the parade's full-fledged return was a sign of renewal, and he called NBC broadcaster Al Roker on-air to say so.
"After two years, we're back. America is back. There's nothing we're unable to overcome," Biden said over the phone from Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he was watching the broadcast with his family.
Still, safety measures continued. Parade staffers and volunteers had to be vaccinated and wear masks, though some singers and performers were allowed to shed them. There was no inoculation requirement for spectators, but Macy's and the city encouraged them to cover their faces. A popular pre-parade spectacle -- the inflation of the giant balloons -- was limited to vaccinated viewers.
The Thanksgiving event also came days after an SUV driver plowed through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing six people and injuring over 60. Authorities said the driver, who has been charged with intentional homicide, was speeding away from police after a domestic dispute.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday there was no credible, specific threat to the Thanksgiving parade, but the New York Police Department's security measures would be extensive, as usual.
Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from streets to rooftops. Cars were blocked from the parade route with sand-filled garbage trucks, other heavy vehicles and approximately 360,000 pounds of concrete barriers.
Bomb-detecting dogs, bomb squad officers, heavy-weapons teams, radiation and chemical sensors and over 300 extra cameras also were dispatched to the parade route, NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso said.
New balloon giants include the title character from the Netflix series "Ada Twist, Scientist"; the Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sled (Pikachu has appeared before, in different form), and Grogu, aka "Baby Yoda," from the TV show "The Mandalorian."
Entertainers and celebrities include Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Schrier, the band Foreigner, and many others. Several Broadway musical casts and the Radio City Rockettes also performed.