The Show Must Go On: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2020

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Kate Chiulli

This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had to adjust to COVID-19 regulations, but the show still went on.

Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade is, without a doubt, one of the day’s highlights for millions of Americans. It is also regarded as the unofficial start of the holiday season. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers typically march down the three-mile parade route each year, some toting giant character balloons and others singing and dancing. Impressive Broadway performances are sprinkled throughout the day, and, at the end of the parade, Santa makes his famous appearance. 

Sophomore Alyssa Inserra commented, “I love waking up every Thanksgiving to watch all the floats and performances. I have always enjoyed watching the Rockettes and seeing Santa Claus in his huge sleigh.” Thankfully, the beloved tradition continued this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic; however, things looked a little different than usual. 

The executive producer of the parade, Susan Tercero, said in a press release, “Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families.”

The main difference of this year’s parade was the lack of a crowd. Under normal circumstances, more than three million people from around the country line the streets of New York City in hopes of viewing the spectacular event. However, in order to avoid the potential spread of Covid-19 that these crowds would bring, the parade was a television-only event. Additionally, the public was not permitted to watch the inflating of the balloons. 

Inserra added, “I feel bad for the people who wanted to go this year, but I’m glad there’s still an opportunity for it to happen on television.” Brett Bisogno, Lynbrook parent who has attended the parade in previous years, said, “I am fine with it being on television only. There is no reason to endanger people’s lives for a parade. It will still go on and be watchable on television.”

The famous giant balloons were still the main attraction of this year’s parade. However, instead of being held down by a team of volunteers, Macy’s employed NYPD-approved vehicles designed specifically for the job. Also, all Broadway and marching band performances did not occur live. Instead, they were pre-recorded and shown on television when the parade aired. All high school and college marching bands that were scheduled to perform this year will return to perform live for the 2021 parade. The lack of balloon handlers and performers reduced the number of parade participants by 75%.

Though much has changed this year, there is still a lot that remains the same. The parade aired on Thanksgiving morning from nine until noon, like it has in years prior. The giant balloons and floats will still made their grandiose appearances, and performers, singers, and marching bands still entertained, albeit to a virtual crowd. 

Hopefully, by next year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will occur in its usual fashion. Until then, one can only sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. “Next year, when things are hopefully back to normal,” added Bisogno, “it will be all the more special to attend in person. There’s always next year.”