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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to be holiday extravaganza for TV

The giant balloons at this year's Thanksgiving Day

The giant balloons at this year's Thanksgiving Day parade will be towed by trucks, Macy's says. Parade balloons are shown on Nov. 27, 2019. Credit: Jeff Bachner

No, there will be no 2½-mile Thanksgiving Day parade down Broadway this year, yet another COVID-19 cancellation.

But Macy’s says it has gone all out to rethink the holiday extravaganza for television.

So yes, there will be floats and giant balloons, though they will be towed by special trucks instead of 80 to 100 handlers, with long-term favorites Astronaut Snoopy, The Elf on the Shelf, and Pikachu joined by up-and-comers The Boss Baby and Red Titan, Macy’s said.

And yes, Broadway showstoppers, their performances shuttered by the coronavirus since spring, will appear. There will also be musical stars of different eras and styles, and many of the marching bands otherwise silenced when their parades were canceled.

And yes, Santa Claus will be featured, along with the Radio City Rockettes, the Sugarplum Fairy from George Balanchine’s "The Nutcracker" representing the New York City Ballet and the casts of "Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations," "Hamilton," "Jagged Little Pill," and "Mean Girls."

The store has yet to say which performances will be live and which will be taped ahead of its 9 a.m.-to-noon broadcast on NBC and Telemundo. The hosts, Macy’s said, will be: the TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker for NBC, and Adamari López, Jessica Carrillo, Rodner Figueroa and Nastassja Bolivar for the Spanish simulcast.

Jimmy Fallon and The Roots will open the show.

The music, pop -- R&B, Country and Latin -- will be performed by: Lauren Alaina, Ally Brooke, Sofia Carson, CNCO, Karol G, Tori Kelly, Patti LaBelle, Matthew Morrison, the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, Leslie Odom Jr., Keke Palmer, Dolly Parton, Pentatonix, Bebe Rexha, Jordin Sparks, Sebastián Yatra, and Brett Young, Macy’s said in a statement.

Don’t expect to be able to watch from anywhere near Herald Square, the store’s headquarters and the traditional end of the Broadway parade.

"This year's Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade is not open to spectators," said Sgt. Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesman, by email.

"The bulk of the program will be pretaped with no audience. Officers will be present in areas where filming will occur to prevent large groups from gathering."

A smaller stretch of 34th Street near Sixth Avenue was blocked off Tuesday morning near the department store’s flagship as preparations were underway for Thursday’s shrunken event.

While the novel coronavirus sidelined local high school marching bands until next year, there will be many others often seen at other parades, Macy’s said. They range from the all-female samba drum line Fogo Azul NYC to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Mermaid Queen Lynn Nottage and Dick Zigun representing the Coney Island USA Mermaid Parade

They also include Danza Fiesta representing the National Puerto Rican Day Parade; The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Band representing the NYC Pride March; the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums representing the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade™.

And there will be a special performance entitled CaribeFuturism featuring a collective of acts including partners Pan in Motion, Batingua Arts, Sesame Flyers, and Kaisokah Moko Jumbies with Carnival Queen Kay Mason representing the West Indian American Day Carnival Association.

Others performing are: The Big Apple Circus, The NYPD Police Band, The West Point Marching Band and the step skills of Zeta Phi Beta.

All participants will wear masks, and there will be 88% fewer of them, Macy’s said.

Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, said: "Our safely re-imagined broadcast will continue that cherished tradition, as viewers nationwide celebrate together bringing a much-needed sense of normalcy to our lives."

With Matthew Chayes

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