Back in action: You’ll be able to see Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in-person this year

Sep 9, 2021

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Fall is a special time in New York City — the weather gets cooler, the leaves start to change and the start of the holiday season ushers in large-scale events that draw locals and tourists alike. One of those events is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and after a drastically downsized television event last year, Macy’s is bringing back the full parade for 2021.

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“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City institution for more than nine decades, growing to become an icon of American pop culture as it annually marks the official start of the holiday season,” said Will Coss, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a press release. “For our 95th celebration, we are delighted to return this cherished holiday tradition closer to its original form as we march down the streets of New York City and into the homes of a nationwide audience.”

While the event’s full 2.5-mile parade route and iconic giant balloons are back this year, there are still a few changes to note. First, the number of participants will be reduced by up to 20%. Second, there are a number of COVID-19 safety procedures being put into place for the event.

According to Macy’s press release, “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.”

Related: CDC updated mask recommendations for vaccinated people

Additionally, all volunteer participants and staff will be vaccinated with only a few exceptions — which will be made at Macy’s discretion and require COVID-19 testing by a Macy’s medical consultant. Social distancing measures will also be put into place at all Parade operations locations, inside and outside.

Right now, the plan is for the marching band, cheer and specialty group performances that were originally slated for 2020’s production to perform at this year’s event. The Balloon Inflation event is still under consideration, and the exact viewing locations, entry guidelines and restrictions will be announced in November.

Macy’s did pull off a successful event earlier this year with its Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks production. It’s possible we’ll see a similar setup for containing crowds and promoting social distancing at this event, but there could also be additional restrictions for non-vaccinated individuals.

It’s exciting to see more events returning to in-person productions this year, even if these events come with additional precautions and limitations due to the continued risk of COVID-19.

However, even with a smaller production, more crowd restrictions and COVID-19 safety procedures in place, this is still going to be a packed event with hundreds of thousands of people potentially attending (in a typical year, up to 3 million people line up along the parade route to watch in-person). Of course,  you can also watch the parade from afar on NBC-TV from 9 a.m. to noon across all time zones.

“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 in a press release. “We applaud Macy’s work to creatively continue this beloved tradition last year and look forward to welcoming back Parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November.”

Featured photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images. 

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