Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to return live with balloons, performances, Santa

Santa Claus waves from his sleigh float at the 94th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade® on November 26, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy's Inc.)

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be live and in-person to kick off the 2021 holiday season, the department store announced Wednesday.

After drastically scaling down the previous year's parade due to the pandemic, the time-honored tradition returns on Thursday, Nov. 25 with giant balloons, floats, marching bands, performances and celebrities.

The televised 95th parade steps off at 9 a.m. and ends at Noon with an appearance from Santa Claus.

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COVID safety protocols will be in place for participants and spectators. Their implementation will be managed by the City of New York.

Macy’s says it will put in place several health and safety procedures for all participants and staff.

2021 Health & Safety procedures include, but are not limited to the following:

  • All volunteer participants and staff will be vaccinated. Vaccine verification will be conducted at all back of house entry points. A few exceptions to this procedure may be made at the sole discretion of Macy’s and its medical consultant based on select extenuating circumstances. For those rare instances, Macy’s medical consultant will administer COVID-19 testing and clear the individual for Parade participation.
  • All participants and staff regardless of vaccination status will wear face coverings and additional protective equipment, as warranted by their role. As appropriate, exceptions may include singers, dancers and musicians performing down the route or for the national broadcast.
  • Macy’s will implement a reduction in the overall number of participants of between 10 to 20 percent (approximately 800 to 1,600 participants).
  • Social distancing practices will be in place at all interior/exterior parade operations including costuming areas, seating and participant check-in.

Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to check for the latest information.

It has still not been determined whether the balloon inflation event typically held the evening before would be held.

Last year, the parade during the television-only event traveled along the usual 2.5-mile route down Broadway into Herald Square with big balloons anchored to vehicles instead of guided by people. Local New York bands and performers provided live music.

"We are thrilled to welcome back in its full form the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a world-renowned celebration that ushers in the magic of being in New York City during the holiday season," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.