All the Ways Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Will Be Different This Year

This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will look a lot different thanks to COVID.

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As many holiday plans are slashed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the folks over at Macy's are determined to keep some semblance of tradition alive. The 94th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will still air Thanksgiving morning, but not without a few key changes to keep everyone involved safe. To see how the parade will look different this year, read on, and for traditions not everyone loves, This Is the Most Hated Thanksgiving Dessert, Survey Says.

Here's the good news for fans of the parade: You can still expect to see floats, balloons, performances by Broadway ensembles, and, of course, Santa. In a statement from Macy's released on Nov. 20, they described the 2020 parade as a "reimagined celebration that will safely bring the magic of this cherished holiday tradition to television audiences nationwide." But how will an event that entails so many people and moving parts be able to maintain a safe environment?

There have been a handful of alterations made to accommodate the current situation and ensure that everyone stays healthy. Many of the changes will be behind-the-scenes, including required COVID testing. According to the statement, "All participants, staff, and performers will be tested for COVID-19 and undergo wellness checks prior to their parade participation."

But many of these changes will also be readily apparent to viewers. Here are all the ways the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be different this year, and for more on coronavirus and the holidays, If You Have This COVID Symptom, Don't Go to Thanksgiving, Dr. Fauci Says.

1
There will be no in-person spectators at the parade.

Crowd at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade generally draws a crowd of thousands of local New Yorkers and people who have come from afar to see the spectacle. However, this year you won't see rows of people watching the parade from the sidelines. According to Macy's statement, the only way to watch the 2020 parade is on your TV. And for more on celebrating safely, Don't Spend More Than This Long in the Grocery Store, Doctor Warns.

2
The parade will not follow its traditional route.

Snoopy float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

This year, the parade will forego its traditional 2.5-mile route and opt for something safer. "To account for proper safety precautions, the celebration this year will be filmed over the course of a few days, with some live portions on Thursday, and just take place at the end of the normal route," the statement said.

On Nov. 24, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade executive producer Susan Tercero told Newsweek, "One of the biggest differences is that we're not going to be marching down our annual route. We won't be starting at 77th and coming down the parade route, because it's just not a parade that we could have this year safely."

3
There will be fewer participants in the parade.

Elf on the shelf balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

According to the statement, the number of participants in the parade has been reduced by about 88 percent and split over the course of three days to limit the potential of large groups needing to gather.

One of the most significantly downsized groups is the balloon handlers. The 80 to 100 handlers that are usually employed to handle the giant character balloons have been largely replaced by "innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYPD," according to the statement.

4
There will be no children participating in the parade.

Kids on a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

There will be no participants under the age of 18 allowed in this year's parade, says Macy's. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

5
You might see some old parade footage.

Santa at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

Get ready for some Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade nostalgia. To fill out the three-hour show there may be "a minute selection of elements" from previous parades. And for information on keeping yourself healthy, If You're Doing This, You Won't Be Totally Safe From COVID on Thanksgiving.

6
Most of the performers will be wearing masks.

Idina Menzel on a float performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

Most of the performers featured in the parade will be wearing masks. "Those that won't be [wearing masks] are the singers, but they won't be in close contact. Everybody else who's participating that won't be singing will wear a face covering," said Tercero.

7
There will be no out-of-town marching bands.

Marching band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Shutterstock

The parade is usually a platform for high school and college marching bands to come from far and wide to perform and get national recognition. However, this year to limit travel, "locally based cultural and professional marching and musical ensembles" took over the lineup," says Macy's. All of the marching bands that had been invited to perform this year are being deferred to the 2021 parade. And for more holiday content to watch on TV this year, check out The Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes of All Time.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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