Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Float with Pilgrims
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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: New Floats, Old Traditions

The long-running Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is back on its traditional route this year after a broadcast-only event in 2020. Fans of the parade are excited to see the balloons and floats parading back through Manhattan this year.
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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is back to its traditional parade route this year after its truncated show in 2020. Families who missed seeing the crowds and festivities last year can look forward to new floats and balloons joining the classics. Since 2021 is the parade’s 95th year, the return to form is reassuring for fans of the long-running event.

“We’ve got a full show: 10 marching bands, 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 30-plus heritage balloons, and a whole host of performances,” executive producer Will Coss told Weekend TODAY. “Really excited to be back in full form.”

New Balloons

A handful of new balloons will be appearing for the first time this Thanksgiving. Perhaps the most exciting of these is Grogu, the breakout star of the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Grogu, better known as Baby Yoda, injects levity and cuteness into the otherwise stoic world of bounty hunter Din Djarin.

Another new balloon features the characters Pikachu and Eevee from the popular Pokemon franchise. While Pikachu has been a mainstay in the Thanksgiving Day Parade for twenty years now, this new balloon features the two cute monsters wearing festive clothing and riding in a sleigh. Nintendo added this attraction to the parade to celebrate the franchise’s 25th Anniversary.

Another returning character with a new look is Ronald McDonald. The mascot’s redesign has him figuratively sharing his heart with the world to inspire smiles.

Finally, the title character of Netflix’s Ada Twist, Scientist, will join Grogu as one of two brand-new characters to the parade. Ada is a pint-sized inventor and the star of Netflix’s popular children’s show.

Returning Favorites

Several fan-favorite balloons are returning to the parade this year, too. The Astronaut Snoopy balloon, featuring the beloved Peanuts character, will be back. Another animated dog, Chase from the Paw Patrol series, is returning for his fifth appearance this year.

Astronaut Snoopy balloon Macy's Day Parade
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The 1-2-3 Sesame Street Float is also returning for the seventeenth time this year, making it one of the longest-running character displays in the parade. Classic floats like the Rocking Lobster, Santa’s Sleigh, and the Big Red Shoe Car will also appear again this year.

Beloved Traditions

Since 1957, the Rockettes have been the final pre-parade entertainment act before the first floats arrive. High school marching bands and cheerleaders from around the country often participate in the parade, which takes place over three hours through a two-and-a-half-mile route in Manhattan.

Santa sleigh Macy's Day parade
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As usual, the parade will conclude with the arrival of Santa Claus in his sleigh, signaling the end of Thanksgiving festivities and the start of the Christmas season.

The Giant Balloon Inflation event is also back this year after taking 2020 off. Families who wish to see the giant characters take shape before the parade can watch the inflation on November 24.

This Year’s Performers

As always, this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature numerous musical performers. Rock band Foreigner will perform a song called Toy House of Marvelous Milestones. Singer Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 fame will sing the Heartwarming Holiday Countdown. Other performers expected to appear include singer Kim Petras, country artist Chris Lane, and R&B star Nelly.

Nelly
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Before Santa’s sleigh arrives, the Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree Choir float will perform an original holiday carol. The choir’s original song prefaces the end of the parade every year, and longtime fans of the event will be delighted to see the carolers back in Manhattan this year.

Why it Matters

The 95th Annual Parade will see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day event return to its classic parade route. In 2020, the event was moved to the Herald Square area and closed to spectators. The only way for the public to view the parade was via its broadcast.

Snoopy Macy's Day Parade
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The 2020 show was the first time the Macy’s Thanksgiving event had been closed to the public in its 94-year history. The event organizers also barred college and high school marching bands from participating. Every band the event turned away last year has been invited to come back in 2021, however.

The parade will air on NBC on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, from 9 AM to 12 PM. Don’t worry if you don’t have cable, though. The parade will be streaming via the Peacock app, too! 

Don’t miss the return of this classic Thanksgiving tradition!