Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade: Festive spectacle of balloons, bands and Santa kicks off the holiday season in New York

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade: Festive spectacle of balloons, bands and Santa kicks off the holiday season in New York

Parade performers lead the Tom Turkey float down Central Park West at the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) – ASSOCIATED PRESS

Snoopy, SpongeBob, and a melody of marching bands painted the skies and streets of New York City during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Beloved characters like Snoopy and SpongeBob SquarePants soared through the skies above New York City on Thursday and bands marched along the streets below as the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ushered in the holiday season. The parade started on Manhattan’s Upper West Side making its way alongside Central Park in front of big crowds and a national television audience before ending in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street. Among the big names performing is Cher, who just released her first Christmas album. The Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winner has a prime spot — performing just before the arrival of Santa Claus, which marks the end of the parade.

Other celebrities and musical groups taking part include Jon Batiste, Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Jessie James Decker, Pentatonix and Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke. The parade also includes performances from the casts of some Broadway shows.

New balloons debuting this year include Leo the lizard, a character from a Netflix film, who is more than 40 feet (12.5 meters) tall, as well as ones that have been there before — like SpongeBob, coming in at 44 feet (13.4 meters). Some characters, like Snoopy, have been in the parade for many years, but this year’s balloon is a new Beagle Scout Snoopy version — celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first appearance in the Peanuts comics.

The parade isn’t just about what’s going on in the skies, though. At street level, the procession includes more than two dozen floats, interspersed with marching bands from around the country and a number of clown crews among the 8,000 people participating, organizers said. Thousands lined the streets in coats on a chilly, sunny morning. Children were on the shoulders of their parents, shouting as characters like Bluey and Big Bird from Sesame Street passed by.

This is the 97th time the parade has been held since 1924.

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