Spectators to return to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this fall

New Yorkers have more to be thankful for this year: Spectators are being welcomed back to this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Last year’s Turkey Day march went on as scheduled, but in-person spectators were kept away due to crowd concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic; everyone had to watch the festivities on television or the internet.

But the 2021 march through Midtown — known for its beautiful balloons, vibrant musical performances and a visit from Santa Claus himself — will once again be open to boys, girls and children of all ages in person on the morning of Nov. 25, Macy’s and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday morning.

“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City institution for more than nine decades, growing to become an icon of American pop culture as it annually marks the official start of the holiday season,” said the parade’s executive producer, Will Coss. “For our 95th celebration, we are delighted to return this cherished holiday tradition closer to its original form as we march down the streets of New York City and into the homes of a nationwide audience.”

Both Macy’s and the city will enforce various health and safety protocols to keep performers, volunteers and spectators safe. 

Macy’s is reducing the number of parade participants of up to 20 percent (between 800 and 1,600 in all). All volunteers and staff members must be vaccinated, and the retailer will mandate vaccine verification at back-of-house entry points. In rare instances in which someone isn’t vaccinated, Macy’s is employing a medical consultant to administer COVID-19 testing and clear the individual for participation. 

Even with the vaccine mandate, all participants and staff will be required to wear face coverings and other protective equipment, as needed. Some singers, dancers and musicians will be given exemptions while performing.

Costume areas, seating, participant check-ins and other areas for interior and exterior parade operations will also be socially distanced, Macy’s reported.

The city, meanwhile, will establish public viewing locations along the parade route, with proper safety protocols in place. The viewing locations will be announced in November days before the big march.

“We are thrilled to welcome back in its full form the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a world-renowned celebration that ushers in the magic of being in New York City during the holiday season,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “We applaud Macy’s work to creatively continue this beloved tradition last year, and look forward to welcoming back parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November.”

Other than these changes, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature plenty of its usual features. Marching bands, cheer teams and specialty acts that were kept away from the 2020 parade due to COVID-19 will instead participate in this year’s march.

The parade will also feature giant character balloons — which, in previous years, has featured characters such as Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Thomas the Tank Engine, the Pillsbury Dough Boy and even Pokemon — flown by teams of between 80 and 100 handlers. Macy’s is also considering bringing back its public balloon inflation event the night before the parade, with more information to be announced in November.

All details and protocol are subject to change depending on the progression of the virus this fall.

More information on the parade can be found at macys.com/social/parade.