The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is happening, but with some major changes.

Because of the global pandemic, the annual parade will look very different than New Yorkers are used to. In an effort to avoid large gatherings, the usual 2.5-mile parade route has been entirely scrapped. Instead, the parade will focus on the street in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street.

While NBC is touting that the parade will still be "live" this year, it's likely that many of the performances will be pre-recorded. Macy's announced several safety measures that will be made this year including the reduction of participants. This line from their press release leads us to believe that at least some of the show will be filmed in advance.

We are reducing the overall number of participants by approximately 75% and splitting the remaining participants over a two-day participation period.

Marching bands from across the country will not be invited to be in the parade this year. Those selected for the honor of appearing at the parade will be bumped to next year. Instead, local professional bands will be performing on Thanksgiving.

Broadway performers and celebrities will still be appearing. The New York Times announced that cast members from "Hamilton,” “Mean Girls,” “Jagged Little Pill,” and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” will all be performing at the parade. Those musical numbers will all be recorded in advance.

The biggest change, however, will affect the giant inflatable balloons. Wednesday night's annual balloon inflating ceremony has been canceled. The public will not be invited to gather and watch the enormous balloons come to life the night before the parade. Also, hundreds of balloon handlers have been told to take the year off.

While there will be giant balloons at the parade, for the first time they won't be controlled by hand. Instead, Macy's has developed an "innovative, specially-rigged anchor vehicle framework" that will be used on five specially-equipped vehicles. Parade officials say the motorized balloon holders have been tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD and are ready to take over for the 80 to 100 people who are usually tasked with steering the helium-filled characters around the city.

While we don't know exactly what these vehicles will look like, it will surely be something everyone will be checking out. With no spectators allowed near Herald Square, the only way to watch the parade is from the comfort of your home. The live broadcast will air on NBC from 9am to Noon on Thanksgiving Day

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