NEW YORK — Thanksgiving will be a lot different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing you can count on is millions of Americans tuning in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In fact, it’s estimated that 50 million people will watch nationwide.
“We will still be doing a live parade on Thanksgiving Day, but it’s going to be shortened and it’s going to be something that’s only for the viewers at home,” says parade executive producer Susan Tercero.
That means no crowds lining the streets of Manhattan as marching bands, floats, and balloons make their way to Herald Square. Instead, performances will take place only on television, near Macy’s iconic flagship store. They’ll be utilizing every precaution to stop the spread of the virus.
“Safety is our number one priority,” Tercero says.
That means the number of people involved has been cut by 75 percent, and there will be masks and social distancing. Also, the trademark helium balloons will be tethered to vehicles this year, instead of being walked by dozens of balloon handlers.
Still, for viewers, it will still be the parade they’ve seen for decades. NBC reported in 2019 that the parade was the most-watched entertainment program on TV since the Oscars that February.
There will still be big stars including Dolly Parton, Bebe Rexha, and Jordin Sparks, along with 18 big balloons and 35 floats.
For the 11th year, South Dakota’s “Mount Rushmore’s American Pride” float will appear in the parade, with singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina performing as the talent.
“Our family has been longtime fans of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade,” said Gov. Kristi Noem. “This year, I hope families across South Dakota take time to reflect on all there is to be thankful for. I encourage families to slow down and enjoy simple delights. Take time to call those who aren’t celebrating with you in person and remind them you are grateful for them.”
This year’s edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.