Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021 to return to its pre-pandemic form. Here's what to know
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be back in a big way in New York City.
After pivoting to a modified, audience-free event due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the parade will welcome back the crowds and all of the spectacle audiences in person and those watching on television around the world have come to expect for nearly a century.
"It's back, and we're excited to bring it back to the streets of New York City in its full form, in the way that audiences have grown to know and love us," said parade executive producer Will Coss. "It's going to be a celebration of spectacle, a celebration of performance, a celebration of culture, a celebration of love. It's going to be a really exciting day, and we're really just elated to have the opportunity to bring it back in its true form."
The 95th marching of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade steps off at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25. Featuring 15 character balloons, 28 floats, 36 novelty and heritage inflatables, more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands and 9 performance groups, as well as Santa Claus, the parade will air from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC and Telemundo, and will stream on Peacock.
Among the celebrities scheduled to appear, according to a Monday morning announcement: aespa; Jimmie Allen; Jon Batiste; “Blue’s Clues & You!” host Josh Dela Cruz and the former hosts of “Blue’s Clues” Steve Burns and Donovan Patton; Kristin Chenoweth; Darren Criss; Jordan Fisher; Foreigner; Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps of Peacock’s “Girls5eva”;Andy Grammer; Mickey Guyton; Chris Lane; Miss America Camille Schrier; the cast and Muppets of “Sesame Street”; Nelly; Kim Petras; Kelly Rowland; Rob Thomas; Carrie Underwood; Tai Verdes; Zoe Wees; and Tauren Wells, as well as Santa Claus.
Broadway will be showcased with performances from musicals “Six,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Wicked,” as well as a sneak preview of NBC’s “Annie Live!” and the Radio City Rockettes.
New balloons joining the inflatable roster include Netflix’s “Ada Twist, Scientist”; a Funko Pop-inspired “The Mandalorian” star Grogu, also known as The Child and commonly referred to as Baby Yoda; the fifth parade iteration of McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald; and "Pokemon" favorite Pikachu, a parade fixture for 21 consecutive years, will be joined by fellow franchise star Eevee.
Other balloons will include: “Peanuts” icon Snoopy; the stars of “The Boss Baby” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”; Goku from Toei Animation’s “Dragon Ball” franchise; Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Gary; SEGA legend Sonic the Hedgehog; Papa Smurf of “The Smurfs”; Red Titan from “Ryan’s World”; Chase from “PAW Patrol”; the Pillsbury Doughboy; Sinclair’s Dino from the Sinclair Oil Corporation; U.S.D.A. Forest Service character Smokey Bear; Macy’s reindeer Tiptoe; and Toni the Bandleader Bear.
Marching bands from Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, New York, California, Oklahoma and Alabama, as well as Macy’s Great American Marching Band, will be among the performers traveling from across the country to be part of the parade.
When is the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?
The parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, marching its 2.5 mile route from Central Park West to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and heading down Sixth Avenue before turning west at 34th Street and ending at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
There will be public viewing along designated areas of the route managed by the New York Police Department, and spectators are asked to not bring large bags, umbrellas, backpacks or strollers. Guests entering viewing areas may be subject to a security search, but proof of vaccination will not be required.
Macy’s partnered with the city and state of New York to ensure its health and safety protocols follow local and state guidelines, as well as the recommendations of the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention. All parade participants will be required to be masked and vaccinated, Coss said.
For those hoping to get a first look at the parade’s floating wonders, the Macy’s Balloon Inflation Celebration runs from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, with entry at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, and balloon viewing at 77th and 81st Streets.
Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required, and children under the age of 12 not eligible to receive vaccination may be accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Masks will be required at all times, and attendees will be encouraged to maintain social distance.
Alex Biese has been writing about art, entertainment, culture and news on a local and national level for more than 15 years.