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The Jennie-O turkey balloon will gobble its way through the altered parade.


Courtesy Macy’s

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Thanksgiving looks different in many ways in this coronavirus year of 2020, and the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is different, too. But the holiday spectacular will happen, and it will still be televised live, so home cooks can tune in while prepping their socially distanced turkey dinners. Here’s how to follow along, and what to expect.

What’s changed?

Macy’s has partnered with the city of New York to try to make this year’s parade safe, without sacrificing spectacle.

“In order to avoid gathering large crowds of spectators along our traditional 2.5-mile route in New York City, we have shortened the route to focus solely on the last section of our annual march,” a representative for the company said in a statement. “On Thanksgiving Day, we will showcase our annual celebration’s signature balloons, floats, performances and herald the arrival of Santa Claus, in front of Macy’s famed flagship store on 34th Street for our national television special on NBC.”

In other words, don’t head to the store, New Yorkers — stay home and watch the balloons and floats on TV or online.

The company is also reducing the number of participants, testing them for COVID-19 and pre-recording performances that are usually live. Participants will wear masks and social distance, student marching bands won’t join in this year, and the annual Thanksgiving eve balloon-inflation celebration won’t be held.

A selection of the signature giant character balloons will still be there, but instead of being flown by 80 to 100 human handlers, they’ll be flown by special vehicles involving fewer people.

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Monkey business at the Macy’s parade.


Courtesy Macy’s

What to look for

So many Pikachu

Gotta catch ’em all: Viewers will see a troupe of dancing Pikachu and a massive Pikachu balloon. And there’s a special reason for all the Pikachu passion, but the Pokémon Company isn’t saying what it is until the parade begins. This is the 20th consecutive year that a Pikachu balloon will be part of the parade.

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Pikachu will take to the skies once more this year. 


Pokemon Company

Broadway’s best

Don’t throw away your shot. There will be performances from the cast of the blockbuster musical Hamilton, as well as other musicals, including Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations, Jagged Little Pill and Mean Girls. The Radio City Rockettes will also perform.

Dueling holiday-movie floats

Lifetime holiday movies have many devoted fans, and this year for the first time, the network is participating in the parade. Its float resembles a charming small-town square like those seen in many of the movies and features enough (fake, we guess) snow to make 9,000 snowballs. Tori Kelly will perform on the float.

But maybe you prefer the Hallmark Channel’s holiday movies? That network offers a float designed to resemble a 3-D Christmas countdown calendar, with surprises behind each marked December date, a central fireplace, and a performance by Pentatonix.

Meet the new boss

The business-suited Boss Baby from the 2010 book, 2017 film and 2018 Netflix series will bring his big head and serious demeanor to the parade. He’ll be a new balloon this year, spreading early hype for the planned 2021 big-screen sequel The Boss Baby: Family Business.

Tom and Jerry

There’s a combination live-action/animated Tom and Jerry movie coming in 2021, assuming the pandemic allows. The famous fighting cat and mouse have a comedic float in the parade this year. In keeping with the duo’s slapstick history, their float is designed to look like it’s been in a crash and features a gag where Tom inflates. Meowza!

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Tom of Tom and Jerry looks to be plotting something.


Courtesy Macy’s

How and when to watch

The parade will air on NBC on Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones.

You can also watch online. Sponsor Verizon will live-stream the spectacle on Twitter and YouTube. The company encourages fans to tweet relevant family photos using the hashtags #VerizonLive and #MacysParade for a chance to be included in the livestream.

If you watch on your mobile device, you can check out the Parade Portal for 360-degree views of the show.

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