Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be TV-only event, without live procession

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The iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will not be live this year because of coronavirus risks — instead, viewers will be able to "feel the spirit and joy of that day" on television and online, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

"One of the most beloved events every year is the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I always want to express my appreciation to everyone at Macy's. They are extraordinarily civically-minded. … We saw what they did on July 4 with an amazing fireworks display," de Blasio said at a press conference.


"They're gonna do the same thing again with the Thanksgiving Parade. It will not be the same parade we're used to. It will be a different kind of event. They're reinventing the event for this moment in history," he said.

The parade is a tradition dating back to 1924 and will be modified "for the first time in its more than 90-year history" for television audiences, Macy's said in a statement.

SpongeBob Square Pants & Gary balloon makes its way down Sixth Avenue during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

"This year the celebration will shift to a television only special presentation, showcasing the Macy’s Parade’s signature mix of giant character helium balloons, fantastic floats, street performers, clowns and heralding the arrival of the holiday season with the one-and-only Santa Claus," the company said in a statement.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 26 this year.

The traditional 2.5-mile parade route that begins near Central Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side will not be used. Instead, floats will be staged at Midtown Manhattan's Herald Square and secured to vehicles instead of by participants holding ropes.

Out-of-state marching bands will have to wait until 2021 to participate, and local musical performers will take their place. The total number of participants will be down 75% from last year, Macy's said, and those who do participate will be socially distanced and wear face masks.

The Wednesday balloon inflation event has been canceled.

The three-hour event, which Macy's says typically draws 3.5 million spectators in New York City and more than 50 million viewers on television, will still be broadcast on NBC at 9 a.m. ET.

"We know this city's come a long way, and we're also going to be smart and cautious with every step we take … to make sure we come back, but we come back safely," de Blasio said.

"There are some things we still can't do. We still can't have the kind of large gatherings that are some of the high points of this year," he continued. "Any year would normally have the parades and the major community events. Those kinds of things still have to wait. We're looking forward to a lot of them coming back in 2021."


Many major public events, including both the Republican and Democratic conventions, had to be retooled this summer because of coronavirus risks.

Fox News' inquiry to Macy's was not immediately returned.

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