A pandemic won’t stop the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

NBC presents TV-only edition of traditional Thanksgiving event

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airs Thursday on NBC.

This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will have such traditional trademarks as balloons, bands and Broadway — but some things will be different, too.

The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated changes to the procession that signals the start of the holiday season … and for the first time, it will be a television-only event as NBC broadcasts the 94th annual edition of the New York parade Thursday, Nov. 26. Many traditions will continue, though, including the participation of regulars from NBC’s weekday edition of “Today.”

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airs Thursday on NBC.

Susan Tercero, Macy’s vice president of production, explains that the plan to do the 2020 parade began by considering “the most iconic elements of the parade that everyone expects. We started from a place of what would be the safest way would be for us to go about presenting that. We will have a couple of bands, but not ones coming in from out of state. We really thought that would not be the best decision from a health and safety standpoint.

 “A lot of those students really didn’t know where they’d be at in their own situations,” Tercero adds. “Would they even have marching bands performing in the fall? Dealing with that was the easiest thing in a lot of ways, since they needed to make their plans pretty quickly; deferring to the 2021 parade was going to be the best option for them. Then, we moved down the line from there.”

With social distancing a prime concern, a substantial reduction of participants in the parade became paramount. Those handling the character balloons will be much fewer, with the inflatables towed by special vehicles instead.

“For the large balloons, we usually have about 100 people staffed under them walking through the streets,” reports Tercero. “We knew we had to reduce participation by 75 percent, and the only way to do that with the balloons was to have a different configuration.

“Doing a parade in a rime of a pandemic certainly is different,” Tercero notes, “but we have new balloons — Boss Baby and Red Titan from ‘Ryan’s World,’ which has been a YouTube sensation — and new floats that we’re showcasing. And we’ve replaced the bands that won’t be here with some beautiful performances from different cultural parades that haven’t had the chance to go down their traditional routes. It’s going to be an exciting year.”

For those who typically watch the parade on television, Tercero forecasts that “it’s not going to be too different. You’ll still see the balloons floating in the sky, performers dressed in costumes, Broadway numbers … overall, the essence of the parade will feel the same, and the beauty of it is that we’ll be doing a lot of it live.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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Nov 25, 2020 6:47 pm

Thank you Jay. I have some grandchildren who will want to see the parade tomorrow. We assumed it wouldn’t be on at all. I’m glad I saw your story.

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