The 2021 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off shortly after 9:00 am in New York City this morning. The 95th installment of the annual parade started from the corner of West 77th Street and Central Park West in New York City and made its way 47 blocks down to Macy's Herald Square location on 34th Street.
Today, the magic came back to the city. The parade welcomed back all the marching bands, floats and, of course, the iconic giant balloons the parade is known for. However, there are safety procedures in effect. All parade-goers over 12 must be vaccinated and must wear a mask.
The parade was also back with live spectators lining the streets. Last year's parade was scaled back to keep everyone safe. The 2020 parade had floats and some musical performances for the TV audience, but no crowds or marching bands as the city asked people to stay home for safety.
Here's a recap of everything from today's Thanksgiving Day parade 2021:
Live Updates (20)
The Thanksgiving parade's grand finale is also the star of the show – Santa Claus.
He was preceded by the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band who paved the way perforoming "Here Comes Santa Claus" in front of the Macy's store entrance.
The day culminnates with the Santa's Sleigh float. At 60 feet long and three-and-a-half stories tall, the float is the largest in the parade. It includes Santa, his sleigh, all eight reindeer and, of course, his big bag of toys and goodies.
Santa's workshop is also depicted in the parade float, giving credit to the place where all his toys were made.
Santa waving as he crosses the parade route officially concludes the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.prevnext
Tiptoe is making her first Parade appearance as a balloon puppet this year. The newest mascot for Macy's holiday season, Tiptoe is as much a puppet as a balloon.
Tiptoe can bob her head up and down and her legs can move (with the help of her puppeteers). Tiptoe made history as the first balloon puppet to ever "march" down the parade route.prevnext
The balloon is 48 feet long and 34 feet tall. In the balloon, Pikachu and Eevee are "sledding" in their Pokeball sleigh. Each blade of the sleigh is about the same length as a semi-trailer truck.prevnext
Seen in over 150 countries on TV, the SpongeBob SquarePants balloon made its way through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for the 17th time this year. His first appearance was in 2004.
This year is SpongeBob's third balloon design and he's accompanied by his pet snail, Gary. The SpongeBob balloon's second design first appeared in the 2013 parade.prevnext
Ronald McDonald is not new in the parade. However he has gotten multiple design changes since joining the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1987.
This year's iteration of the McDonald's mascot has him wearing a suit coat and bowtie and is holding a giant red heart. The Ronald McDonald balloon is 40 feet tall, 68 feet long, and 31 feet wide. It took a little over 2,600 hours to complete the balloon for Ronald, and over 50 gallons of paint.
The balloon was preceded by the Big Red Shoe Car parade float. Ronald McDonald, Grimace and the Hamburglar were all riding along in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in his shoe car. If this float were a real shoe, it would be size 266!prevnext
Grogu is a popular character from the series "The Mandalorian" and is making its first appearance in the parade. The balloon – sponsored by Funko – is based on the upcoming The Child Funko Pop!, coming out in the fall. It was designed to look like a Funko Pop! version of the character.
Grogu is 41 feet tall, 29 feet long and 37 feet wide. Grogu's 37-foot earspan is wider than a telephone pole.
Covering the parade for NBC's broadcast, Al Roker's reaction seeing the giant Grogu balloon was priceless.prevnext
The Celebration Gator is the longest parade float ever at 60 feet from nose to tail. The Louisiana Office of Tourism sponsored the Celebration Gator float as a tribute to Louisiana's rich culture. The float features azaleas, magnolias, and, of course, mardi gras beads. If you are able to look through the logo, you can see the animators working the float.
Louisiana native singer/songwriter Jon Batiste rode the gator into Herald Square. The front man of Stay Human, the house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performed the song "I Need You" from his new album "WE ARE" in front of the crowd assembled in front of the Macy's entrance. During his performance, he even played a saxophone between verses.prevnext
Toni is making their debut this year at the parade. The balloon was named after the person who spearheaded the parade, Tony Sarg. While it's the balloons first appearance, the character will be the new ambassador of the Parade's marching band program.
The Toni Balloon is 39 feet tall, 28 feet long and 24 feet wide. The Macy's star appears multiple times on this balloon The hat, cheeks and right foot to name a few. Toni's eye has the top leg of the star hidden in its diamond shape.prevnext
The Nickelodeon show Blue's Clues has been bringing interactive adventures to preschoolers for 25 years. The Blue's Clues float,"Blue's Clues and You!," preceded by the Blue balloon, starred all three friends – Steve, Joe, and Josh. Steve Burns ("Steve"), Donovan Patton ("Joe") and Josh Dela Cruz ("Josh) are filming a movie together in New York City.
The three went on to perform a song that breaks the fourth wall as usual. Of course, it was filled with emotions as Blue's Clues fans watched Steve and Joe sing to fans like old times.
All along the parade route, Blue's Clues fans lost it when Steve, Joe, and Kevin appeared together.prevnext
The Paw Patrol balloon prooved the parade is not a "job to big" but truly emphasizes the "no pup too small" mantra. The Chase character balloon is so big, his hat could actually cover a real-life police patrol car.
The balloon of Greg Heffley, the main character in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books followed Paw Patrol. This is the balloons 12th appearance in the parade. There has been two iterations of the ballon, both have depicted Greg clutching his diary.prevnext
The Heinz pirate-shaped float named "The Gravy Boat" cossed the line, closely followed by another marching band. The Hampton University Marching Force arrived in front of Macy's. The 185 students and 20 staff members performed a medley of Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" and Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" as they passed Macy's.
They were followed by Tai Verdes, the viral TikTok stary. From atop the Jeanniie-O Big Turkey Spectacular float, he performed his song "A-O-K."
The Jennie-O Turkey is making its 2nd gobble, gobble, down the parade route. Shining in it's Jennie-O gold and green, this turkey has a stage for dancing and something special under its hat. All the performers have feathered fans to make the tail more dynamic.prevnext
Ada Twist, Scientist was the first of the giant character ballons have crossed the Thanksgiving parade finish line. Also one of the six new ballons making her parade debut, Ada is the main character from the Netflix show Ada Twist. She is described as a "pint-sized" scientist with a pen behind her ear.
While her character on the show is pint-sized, her balloon depiction is 51 feet tall, 41 feet long and 29 feet wide. If you were to line up 27 regular sized pens, they would be the same length as the pen on Ada's ear.prevnext
The police escort and the first marchers and parade float have reached the parade finish line on 34th Street. The Tom Turkey float, accompanied by clowns and the Macy's star balloons, just passed in front of Macy's entrance.
It was closely followed by the marching band Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. The 120 memebers of the marching band quickly performed "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as they crossed the finish line.prevnext
The ribbon is cut! The 2021 edition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade has officially begun!
From the Parade start line at West 77th and Central Park west, Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette officially got the parade underway. After a 5-second countdown, Gennette cut the ribbon at parade start line and announced the traditional starting words, "Let's have a parade!"
With an explostion of gold confetti, the first parade float and marchers started their journey. Tom Turkey is the longest-running float in the Thanksgiving parade and the symbol of the start of the parade. According to Macys.com, the Tom Turkey parade float is second in popularity only to Santa Clause at the end of the parade.prevnext
As the parade gets ready to kick off, spectators are lining up along the 47-block route. While the streets were mostly eempty last year, between two and three million people are expected to line up around the two and one-half miles of streeets the parade will pass through.prevnext
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade route is two and a half miles long stretching from West 77th Street on the Upper West Side down the 43th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The parade's starting point – designated by the (A) location on the map – is at the southeast corner of the Museum of Natural History at West 77th Street and Central Park West.
The parade travels south along Central Park West (B) until it hits Columbus Circle at 59th Street (C). From here it heads east on Central Park South for two blocks until it reaches 6th Avenue (D).
The parade route then turns onto 6th Ave and heads south towards Herald Square.As it travels south along 6th Avenue, the parade passes by west side of Rockafeller Center and Bryant Park.
When the parade hits 34th Street, it heads west and ends half a block away in front of Macy's Herald Square. This is the location most familiar to TV viewers of the parade.prevnext
An annual tradition for many New Yorkers and parade goers is watching the iconic parade ballons get inflated the night before. Curtailed to only volunteers last year because of the pandemic, the tradition resumed this year for the 95th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation.
Starting Wednesday afternoon, parade volunteers and spectators gather at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue on New York's Upper West Side to get the parade balloons filled with helium. This "Inflation Celebration" has become almost as popular as the Thanksgiving Parade itself. This year, all attendees over age 12 were required to be vaccinated and, like the parade, all spectators needed to wear a mask.
The 2021 edition of the Thanksgiving parade will feature 36 inflatables at this year's parade with 15 giant character balloons. Classic balloons returning to the parade this year include Sponngebob Squarepants, Snoopy and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
The parade will also feature six new balloons including:
- Ada Twist, Scientist
- Baby Yoda (Grogu)
- Pikachu and Eevee
- Tiptoe the Reindeer
- Toni, The Bandleader Bear
- Ronald McDonald (new version)
More: Photos of the parade balloon inflation celebration (CBS New York)prevnext
The weather forecast for New York City is on the colder side, but conditions are quite favorable for a parade. The temperature will be about 44 degrees as the parade gets underway at 9 am and will only reach 52 degrees by the time it ends at noon. There is a 0% chance of precipitation throughout the morning.
Will the Wind Be A Problem For Parade Balloons?
New York City limits how high the balloons can fly and could even ground the balloons altogether if winds gusts are strong enough. But with a light breeze of less than 5mph, there will be no wind issue. CBS New York Meteorologist Lonnie Quinn said he doesn't foresee any problems for the parade today.prevnext
With crowds allowed on the street to view the parade again this year, the New York Police Department says they will be in full effect to help keep spectators safe for the annual event. From security checkpoints to lining the perimeter and even more going on behind the scenes, NYPD is ready.
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio stated there are "no specific and credible threats" against the parade or the city. Even still, every effort is being made to provide enhanced security for the annual Thanksgiving parade through Midtown Manhattan.
"You will see our explosion detection K-9's. You'll see our heavy weapons and observation teams. You'll see our Bomb Squad response teams, as well as radiological and chemical sensors," NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso said in an interview with CBS New York. "We have over 300 extra cameras deployed along the parade route."prevnext
There are several options for how to watch the parade. The official broadcaster of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is NBC. CBS will also air coverage of the parade from a different vantage point, primarily on 6th Avenue. You can watch the parade live on TV or stream the proceedings in an app.
- What: The 95th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Where: New York, NY
- Date: Thursday, November 25, 2021
- Start time: 9:00 am ET
- End time: 12:00 pm ET
- On TV: Local NBC station or local CBS station
- Live stream app: Peacock (NBC) or Paramount+ (CBS) or Hulu +Live TV