Crowds expected to number 3 million gather on the streets of Manhattan to attend the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
With temperatures reaching 50 degrees Thursday morning and clear skies, spectators should have a clear view of the 16 giant balloon figures that will fly at 9 a.m.
While all eyes will be on the parade, viewers may notice the absence of The Today Show’s Al Roker, who will miss the event for the first time in 27 years after being hospitalized for blood clots.
Still, the show went ahead without the popular host as Broadway singer Lea Michele kicked off the festivities with a performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from her Broadway show “Funny Girl.”
In addition to the iconic balloons, the parade will also feature 28 floats, 12 marching bands, 700 clowns and various music stars will make their way on Thanksgiving Day.
Organizers said the parade will begin in the city’s Upper West Side and end at Macy’s iconic store in Herald Square.
It is predicted that 500,000 more people will attend than last year. The 2020 parade was a TV-only festival due to the pandemic.
Broadway singer Lea Michele kicked off the annual Thanksgiving Day parade with a dazzling performance
About 3 million people are expected to attend the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan as the weather warms and the skies clear for the giant balloons, including those of the iconic Ronald McDonald
Lea Michele sang ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from her Broadway show ‘Funny Girl’
Organizers said the parade will begin in the city’s Upper West Side and end at Macy’s iconic store in Herald Square
Tom Turkey was seen as the Thanksgiving Parade officially kicked off in Manhattan with the cutting of the red ribbon
Crowds have formed all morning along the parade route along the streets of New York City
The streets were completely packed as people thronged to see the parade
One of the newest balloons to take flight is the popular Grogu from the Star Wars franchise
Dozens of Star Wars-themed balloon carriers dressed cozily as they carried the baby Yoda character
Along with the balloons, 28 floats will make their way to Herald Square. Pictured: Lego’s Brick-Changer float
Host Jimmy Fallon (left) posed with Paula Abdul (right) late at night as they were scheduled to perform at the parade
Notably missing is Today Show host Al Roker (pictured), who will be absent for the first time in 27 years after being hospitalized for blood clots
Performers in the parade include Paula Abdul, The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, Jordan Sparks, Big Time Rush and Gloria Estefan, who will appear with her daughter and grandson.
Mariah Carey will be the grand finale as she performs “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at the Macy’s store in Herald Square.
Along with giant balloon classics like Ronald McDonald, this year’s “Striker the US Soccer Star” parade will premiere in honor of the World Cup. Some balloons are as tall as four-story buildings.
Snoopy was one of the many mainstays of the parade, appearing in his NASA suit as the longest-running character to appear on the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In addition to the balloon characters, spectators are also eager to see the iconic Tom Turkey and Santa Clause floats as they mark the start of the holiday season.
The parade also features 12 marching bands that will perform through the streets of New York City
Pictured: Children in floral costumes sing along as they take part in the annual Thanksgiving Parade
Pictured: Parade organizers prepare the ever-occurring Snoopy balloon, this time dressed as an astronaut
Pictured: Sinclair Oil Dino and Baby Dino’s balloon being prepared on Thursday morning
Along with Snoopy, one of the oldest balloon characters is Ronald McDonald (pictured)
Kevin the Minion’s balloon is blown up during the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
As in years past, the New York Police Department blocked all vehicular access points to the parade route with sand-filled garbage trucks, other heavy vehicles and approximately 360,000 pounds of concrete barriers.
Police presence has also been stepped up given the country’s recent shootings and threats against New York’s Jewish community.
“In light of recent events, particularly the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting and the arrest of two individuals for posting threatening statements to Jewish targets on the Internet, the Counterterrorism Bureau will commit additional resources to ensure that festivities throughout the city are safe for everyone. Assistant Chief Martine Materasso, who heads the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Office, said at an Upper West Side news conference.
As in years past, the New York Police Department blocked all vehicular access points to the parade route
Police presence has also been stepped up given the country’s recent shootings and threats against New York’s Jewish community