New York (AFP) – Affected by last year’s coronavirus pandemic, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday is back in full, despite taking precautions.
Balloons, floats, bands, clowns and artists – and of course Santa Claus – again wandered along 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) of Manhattan streets, rather than being confined to a single building or sometimes pre-recorded last year.
Spectators, who closed in 2020, lined the road again. High school and college rally teams from across the country were invited back into the lineup; Most of last year’s artists were local to cut back on travel. Giant balloons, strapped to cars last year, have brought their uniformed workers back.
For President Joe Biden, the show’s full return was a sign of renewal, and he called NBC anchor Al Roker on air to say so.
“After two years, we’re back. America is back. There’s nothing we can’t beat,” Biden said by phone from Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he was watching the broadcast with his family.
The Thanksgiving Day Parade is the latest event of the US holiday to re-emerge as vaccinations, familiarity and sheer frustration have made officials and some of the public more comfortable with large gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic.
However, safety measures persisted. The march workers and volunteers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wore masks, although some singers and artists have been allowed to part with them. There was no need to vaccinate the spectators, but Maisie and the city encouraged them to cover their faces. It was a common pre-show scene – giant balloons inflating – restricted to vaccinated viewers.
The Thanksgiving party also came days after an SUV driver caught a glimpse of the Christmas Parade in a Milwaukee suburb., killing six people and injuring more than 60. The authorities said that the driver, who was charged with premeditated murderHe was rushing away from the police after an internal dispute.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that there is no specific credible threat to the Thanksgiving march, but that the NYPD’s security measures will be extensive, as usual.
“I am very confident in what the NYPD has prepared to keep everyone safe,” he said.
Thousands of police officers were assigned to the parade route, from the streets to the rooftops. Cars were blocked from the parade track with garbage trucks full of sand and other heavy vehicles and about 360,000 pounds (163,000 kg) of concrete barriers.
New York Police Department counterterrorism chief Martin Materaso said bomb-detection dogs, bomb squad officers, heavy weapons teams, radiological and chemical sensors and more than 300 additional cameras have been sent to the parade route.
Inside the barricades, about 8000 participants, four dozen balloons of various sizes and dozens of floats took part in the parade.
New balloon giants joining the lineup include the title character from the Netflix series “Ada Twist, Scientist”; Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sleigh (Pikachu appeared before, differently), and Grogu, aka “Baby Yoda”, from the TV show “The Mandalorian”. The new floats are coming from entities ranging from condiment maker Heinz to Peacock’s streaming service on NBCUniversal to the Louisiana Bureau of Tourism.
Artists and celebrities include Carrie Underwood, John Baptiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Shearer, the foreign band, and many more. Several musical actors have also performed on Broadway and Radio City Rockettes as well.