Photos: Massive Crowds Greet The Return Of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The balloons, the bands, the clowns, the Stormtroopers (!)—they were all back out on a beautiful Thanksgiving morning.

After last year’s “closed set” made-for-TV event, the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade came back big way on Thursday, with thousands of performers and balloon wranglers making their way down Central Park West, across 59th Street, and down Sixth Avenue to the mothership on 34th Street.      

Huge crowds greeted the marchers along CPW, and, oh man, were people excited. Alexis Alacon from Omaha, Nebraska, for example, got to the barricades at 5:00 a.m. to snage a prime spot near the start of the parade.

“New York is fricking awesome,” he said. “A totally different monster compared to all the other places I’ve been to. I love it. And I’ve wanted to come to the Thanksgiving Day Parade ever since I saw that movie Spider-Man, the very first one that came out. To see if the Green Goblin appears. That’s why I’m here now.”     

There were 15 huge character balloons, like newbies Grogu, who chased his beloved knob for the 2.5-mile-long route; Ada Twist, Scientist, decked out her lab coat, pencil tucked behind her ear; a reindeer named Tiptoe, the parade’s first-ever “balloon puppet;” and an enormous Pikachu and Eevee on a sleigh ride together with you. Returning to the action were fan favorites like Astronaut Snoopy, Sonic, Spongebob Squarepants (with a very large Gary), and the oil-company-sponsored giant green apatosaurus Dino.   

Snoopy balloon fan Bobbi Randa of Seattle, Washington, had a blast. “I’m visiting my brother in NYC,” she said. “and this is my first time at the parade. I love it. I love the energy, it’s so great to kick off the holiday season like this.” 

Also making the journey downtown were a half dozen or so ballonicles (basically: balloons on wheels), 30 floats blasting music, 10 marching bands (who were originally supposed to perform in the 2020 parade), vast cheer squads, and performers such acts as the all-female K-Pop quartet Aespa (whose fans brought cabbages and carrots, an inside joke); Boomer rockers Foreigner; Jon Batiste, who was just nominated for 11 Grammys; former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland; Nelly of “Hot in Herre” fame; and Rob Thomas, hyping his new holiday record.   

Of special note and making their Thanksgiving Day Parade debut: the J.U.M.P. team, 112 teenagers from all across the country who jump-roped, in unison, literally down the entire route. And they had only ever practiced all together twice, on Labor Day weekend, and these past two days in NYC. Amazing and exhausting. 

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