Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021: A long route and crowds are back

(CNN) – Last year, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a silent event. Because of the pandemic, it was only a TV event. There are no moving crowds lining the streets of Manhattan. There is no long way to view.

What a difference the Covid-19 and 12 months vaccinations make.

The 2021 scene will return to the familiar show of the past. Travelers and residents will get 2.5 miles of general viewing as balloons, floats, and bands make their way from the Upper West Side to Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.

Long-time New York City resident Lisa Fisher is delighted with the 95th annual parade, which begins at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday.

“Obviously I should have seen it on TV” last year, she told CNN Travel. “It was still fun and brought back great memories.” But Fisher said it’s not the same experience without the street energy and the usual tradition.

Fisher has a lot of personal and cherished experiences with the show.

When her two children were younger, Fisher used to take them to watch giant balloons inflate. Then they catch the show on TV the next day in their pajamas at home.

Around 2004, they had a particularly memorable time watching up close.

“We should be in the stands right in front of Macy’s,” Fisher said. “I was lucky enough to get tickets and right in front of them where they aired on TV. That was really fun.”

Here’s what people on Earth and TV viewers can expect:

Route 2021 Macy’s Parade

Goku’s balloon floats for the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2019. The 2021 event will re-track the longest-running parade.

James Devani / Getty Images

The 2020 Parade was held in a small area around Macy’s flagship store – just enough space for it to be shown for broadcast.

Early birds begin arriving around 6 a.m. Thursday in Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Street. This stretch is great scenic. After that, the parade will turn into the Columbus Circle – again there is no public viewing on the circuit.

After a relatively short drive down Central Park South, the parade will head south on Sixth Avenue for a long drive toward midtown Manhattan. Massey promotes views from West 59th Street to West 38th Street.

The show takes its last turn at 34th Street and ends in front of the main store (there is no public display here either).

weather forecast

Expectations are that Santa Claus will not have any major weather issues due to his appearance on the show in 2021.

Expectations are that Santa Claus will not have any major weather issues due to his appearance on the show in 2021.

James Devani / Getty Images

There is nothing in the projected computer models to indicate that the winds will approach the threshold, according to CNN meteorologist Judson Jones.

So, “let the balloons fly,” Jones said.

Not only that, but the weather will be pure and beautiful, said Jones. It can be a bit chilly in the early hours, from your 30s to your 40s. But by the time it hits Santa Herald Square, it will be mostly sunny with a temperature of about 50 degrees, if not warmer, he said.

How to watch from home

Can not be there personally?

NBC is the official broadcaster for the show, and coverage begins at 9 a.m. in all US time zones. The show’s hosts are Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker on “Today”.

The Spanish language simulcast on Telemundo will be hosted by Ana Yurca and Carlos Adean. NBC is also offering streaming on the new Peacock Premium platform.

CBS will also cover the show from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be broadcast live on its Paramount Plus Premium platform.

You may also catch it if you have live TV services like FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.

Gangsta crawling

The strength of Hampton University's career is set to show at the 2021 show.

The strength of Hampton University’s career is set to show at the 2021 show.

Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

It’s hard to beat that head-to-toe tingle that a good band gives you. And Macy’s attracts some of the best from across the United States. Some of the bands from the 2021 Music Parade:

The Hampton University Marching Force: This high-energy Virginia band played at the New Year’s Day 2020 Parade and Celebration in Rome and was their drummer at the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade.

– NYPD Marching Ensemble: Made of musically inclined police officers, it’s a crowd favorite.

— The Ann Richards Marching Stars: Deep in the heart of Texas, the band is the country’s only competitive band, according to Macy’s.

Centerville High School Jazz Band: From Ohio, the band is known for its traditional and contemporary treatments of big jazz. They are scheduled to perform “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.


Darren Criss attends the 74th Annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021 in New York City.  He will be one of the featured artists in Messi's parade.

Darren Criss attends the 74th Annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021 in New York City. He will be one of the featured artists in Messi’s parade.

Jimmy McCarthy/Getty Images

The show will also feature singers, musicians, and artists from a variety of musical genres. Some of the many stars scheduled to appear include:

South Korean K-pop quartet Aespa
Country music singer Chris Lane
“Glee” star and Broadway actor Darren Criss
– foreign classic rock band
New Orleans singer, composer, pianist, and jazz singer John Baptiste
Broadway star Kristen Chenoweth
– Leading country singer Mickey Gayton
– St. Louis rapper Nelly


Macy's unveils giant new character balloons at the 95th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This is Tony, the head of Macy's very special squad.

Macy’s unveils giant new character balloons at the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is Tony, the head of Macy’s very special squad.

Eugene Gologorsky / Getty Images

Those huge balloons that give a huge visual thrill will be back. A small sample of what you’ll see:

– Ada Twist, Scientist: From the Netflix series, she debuted her airship this year at the height of a nearly four-story building.
– Reindeer on tiptoe, who first appeared in a balloon
– Astronaut Snoopy, the 9th iteration of Peanut Balloon
– The Pillsbury Doughboy at 46 feet
– Smokey Bear, star of the longest running PSA ad in US history, according to Messi

Another beloved tradition – public viewing of balloons being prepared – is back this year. It was held on Wednesdays on the Upper West Side.


Artist Donnie Osmond stands over a turkey float during a 1981 show.

Artist Donnie Osmond stands over a turkey float during a 1981 show.


– Gator Celebration from the Louisiana Bureau of Tourism
1-2-3 Floating Sesame Street
– Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree, featuring the voices of more than 100 Macy’s workers
– And of course, Santa’s sleigh

Safety and security

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "The NYPD...planned a very cautious security around the show."

“NYPD … planned very careful security around the parade,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

While full vaccinations were required to attend the balloon inflation event on Wednesday afternoon, there is no requirement to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for the public to view the parade from the sidewalks on Thursday morning. People are encouraged to wear masks and dress accordingly in late November in New York City.

Spectators are asked to avoid bringing large bags, umbrellas, backpacks and strollers. The public entering the viewing streets may be subject to a security check.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that there are no “specific and credible threats” against the city’s Thanksgiving rally. However, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said his officers would be on high alert.

“We never rest with what we’ve achieved, and we’ll have thousands of officers there to make sure you don’t have to think about security,” he said.

Reporters asked de Blasio on Monday whether a Christmas parade accident in Wisconsin that killed six people after an SUV plowed into a crowd would affect New York City’s security plan.

“What happened in Wisconsin is tragic and horrific, but I will tell you that the NYPD has planned for years and years a very careful insurance around the show,” the mayor said.

sweet anticipation

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has evolved into a holiday tradition since it began as a Christmas parade in 1924.

Lisa Fisher said she plans to get up really early Thursday, have coffee, make some friends and see if she can find a spot on the sidewalk to watch.

Fisher has an enviable backup plan if ground-level action doesn’t satisfy her.

Her apartment on 60th Street and Amsterdam Avenue near Lincoln Center gives her a panoramic view of Columbus Circle, where the view will turn.

She has an amazing personality status at the same time too. Her TV was set up so she could watch the broadcast and watch the show go through her apartment window at the same time.

“I’m excited to watch it in person this year,” she said. “It’s not Thanksgiving without the show. It’s the start of the holiday season.”

“New York City looks a little lighter for the first time in 18 months… Lots of Christmas decorations are up now. It looks like there are more tourists here. The atmosphere isn’t feeling heavy. I’m feeling more optimistic.”

Top image courtesy of Macy’s. CNN’s Ivan Simko Bednarsky and CNN’s Mirna Sharif contributed to this report


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