Joe Biden says return of full-fledged Macy’s Thanksgiving parade shows ‘America is back’
Giant balloons fought over by costumed manipulators once again dominated the streets of Manhattan for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
- The parade was confined to a single block in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic
- US President Joe Biden said the return of the parade was a sign of renewal
- Heavy security measures were in place for the parade
High school and college marching bands from across the United States were back, as were the crowds.
After being hampered by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the holiday tradition returned in full on Thursday, but with precautions.
“It really made Thanksgiving very festive and full of life,” said Sierra Guardiola, a 23-year-old interior design agency assistant, after watching the show with a turkey hat.
Thousands of marchers, hundreds of clowns, dozens of balloons and floats marked the national holiday.
For US President Joe Biden, the full return of the parade was a sign of renewal.
“After two years, we’re back. America is back. There’s nothing we can’t overcome,” Biden said.
Yet security measures continued. Parade staff and volunteers were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks.
There was no vaccine requirement for spectators, but Macy’s and the city encouraged them to cover their faces.
Onlooker Asahi Pompey said she was keen to get a shot and wear a mask in the crowd, but COVID-19 issues couldn’t keep her away.
“It’s really phenomenal to be here. It feels like New York is on the verge of a recovery,” Ms. Pompey said.
“It’s like the whole spirit of New York has come and come together so that we can be together,” added her school-aged son Sebastian.
On last Thanksgiving, with no vaccines available and the virus starting a winter wave in the nation’s largest city, the parade was limited to one block.
Most of the performers were based locally, to reduce travel, and the giant balloons were attached to vehicles instead of being handled by volunteers. No spectators were allowed.
Watching the nearly century-old parade this year on the street, instead of a screen, was “amazing” for Katie Koth. The 26-year-old teacher was at the event for the first time.
The event came days after an SUV driver drove through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing six people and injuring more than 60.
Authorities said the driver, who was charged with intentional manslaughter, was quickly walking away from police after a domestic feud.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday there was no credible and specific threat to the Thanksgiving parade, but security was extended, as usual.
It involved thousands of police officers, as well as garbage trucks filled with sand and concrete barriers blocking cars from the parade route, bomb detection dogs, heavy weapon teams, radiation and chemical sensors and more 300 additional cameras.
Inside the barricades, new giant balloons have joined the lineup, including Netflix series main character Ada Twist, Scientist; Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee on a sled, and Grogu, aka Baby Yoda, from The Mandalorian TV show.
The new floats have come from entities ranging from condiment maker Heinz and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service to the Louisiana Board of Tourism.
The artists and celebrities included Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Miss America Camille Schrier, the group Foreigner and many more.
Several Broadway musical actors and the Radio City Rockettes also performed.
Sloan Brown, 6, who took it all on a trail, summed it up in one word: “cool”.