Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast-only event without the usual balloon handlers

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t completely deflate the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but there will be some major changes this year.

Macy’s and New York City announced Monday that the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be modified for a mostly broadcast-only presentation.

“This year’s 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration will be produced solely as a television event allowing millions of New Yorkers and the nation to safely experience it from the comforts of home,” Macy’s said in a statement.

For 93 years — starting with a modest two-block event — the parade has drawn spectators in New York. But organizers are “reimagining” the event. The TV-only parade will still go on, but will take place over the course of two days in order to limit capacity for performers and participants.

The giant balloons usually flown by up to 100 handlers will now be guided by “specially rigged” vehicles.

“We’ve worked closely with the Macy’s team on a safe and creative plan this year, and we look forward to keeping this tradition going on Thanksgiving Day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The plan uses Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks as a model for how to proceed without the usual crowds.

The number of parade participants will be cut to 75% and socially distanced, and that group will be split over two days. They will be required to wear face coverings and personal protective equipment. The usual 2.5-mile route will be nixed this year and staging will be limited to the Herald Square area in Manhattan (of course, anyone with a window seat could still watch).

No one participating in the parade will be under 18, and high school and college marching bands will be replaced by professional marching and musical ensembles from the local area.

The public balloon inflation event that usually precedes the parade will also be canceled this year.

“While it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose – to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation,” Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade, said in a statement.

The parade will air from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 26 on NBC; macys.com/parade.

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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at [email protected] Send a coronavirus tip here.

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