Macy’s 94th Thanksgiving Day parade: A beloved holiday tradition kept alive

Despite all odds, this year’s Thanksgiving showcased good food and the long-awaited holiday parade, just without any family reunion arguments. Even more intriguing was the added bonus of performances from some of the most popular Broadway shows, whose stages have been darkened since the start of the pandemic in March.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that this year’s 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be held virtually, much like other public events have done in the last nine months. For an event that has been live broadcasted across the country for almost 100 years, it was a tradition that could not be missed, even amidst a pandemic. 

“Every year my family watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. My favorite parts have always been the Rockette performances and the Snoopy float!” says senior Lauren Davis. 

The parade’s previous route took it two and a half miles down West 77th Street, welcoming around two million performers and audience members from around the world. This year, however, took the iconic balloons just one block down 34th Street, which were held up by utility vehicles instead of the usual human handlers. There was no in person audience and no street viewing opportunities, and all participants had to be over the age of 18 and from the tristate area. 

The most anticipated Santa Claus float takes its turn down 34th Street, closing the 2020 Thanksgiving parade.

But do not let this lack of crowd deter you. About 21 million viewers at home witnessed a complete television experience full of balloons, music concerts, celebrity appearances, and performances from hit Broadway shows such as: “Hamilton”, “Mean Girls”, “Jagged Little Pill”, and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations”. These performances were recorded in the weeks leading up to the big day and continued to follow health safety guidelines such as maintaining social distance and wearing masks (except when singing). For example, the performance of “Ain’t Too Proud” had only five actors, compared to last year’s full cast appearance. 

“It’s [parade] definitely different this year without an audience but it felt the same for me because I watch it from my couch every year. I am so happy that everyone involved was able to capture that same magic from past years,” continues Davis. 

This year’s parade was broadcasted Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 26, 2020 at 9 am on NBC, hosted by Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker. It became the networks most watched and highest rated television event of 2020, something that has been hard to do due to restrictions put on production since the start of the pandemic. Some celebrity appearances included Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, the fan favorite cast of Muppets of Sesame Street, Pentatonix, Leslie Odom Jr., Dolly Parton, the iconic Rockette performance, and many more. In a year that has caused many to worry about the status of their holiday traditions, the ability of the beloved parade to continue brought joy to all of its viewers.

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