Macy’s unveils plans for televised-only Thanksgiving Day Parade, scraps parade route

New York City will host this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, though the celebration will “not be the same parade we’re used to,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. 

“It will be a different kind of event. They’re reinventing the event for this moment in history, and you’ll be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online. Not a live parade but something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving Day,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing. 

The number of participants in this year’s parade, which typically draws crowds of nearly 3.5 million people and 8,000 volunteers in New York City, will be reduced by about 75%, Macy’s announced in a press release. The parade won’t use its usual 2.5-mile parade route and will instead shift to a televised broadcast only with production staged in one area of New York City. 

Instead of handlers walking the giant balloons down the parade’s usual route, an “innovative, specially rigged” framework of vehicles will fly the balloons, the company said. All of the parade’s participants, who must be over 18 years old, have to adhere to social distancing guidelines and face coverings will be required, Macy’s said. 

Previously selected high school and college marching band performances will be rescheduled for Macy’s parade in 2021, the company said. 

“The safety of participants and spectators is Macy’s number one priority and this year’s 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration will be produced solely as a television event allowing millions of New Yorkers and the nation to safely experience it from the comforts of home,” the company said in a statement. 

The holiday parade began in 1924. In 1953, NBC began televising the event.

“In this case, it’s really important to keep these traditions continuing. To make sure that history is unbroken,” de Blasio said. 

Macy’s, which modified its Fourth of July fireworks show this year to protect New Yorkers from the coronavirus, had previously said it plans to do the same for this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.

“Following our successful, safe and innovative production of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, it is our intention to similarly reimagine Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November,” the company’s website says. To prevent crowding, Macy’s launched its Fourth of July fireworks during unannounced times across the city. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recently cleared more businesses in the Big Apple, including gyms, malls and museums, to reopen with health precautions and reduced capacity to protect against the coronavirus’ spread. New York, once considered the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak, has reported an infection rate below 1% for 38 consecutive days — well below the World Heath Organization’s 5% recommendation for reopening. 

Beginning Sept. 30, New York City restaurants that have been staying afloat through takeout and outdoor dining services over the summer will be allowed to serve customers inside at 25% capacity. Although the businesses will be subject to a number of regulations, it’s the first time since mid-March they’ll be allowed to invite customers to dine inside even as cases declined over the summer. 

During Monday’s press briefing, de Blasio said New York City has fought back the worst of the disease and reopened its economy without having “to take a step back,” unlike other parts of the country. In the coming weeks, the city will unveil its “next big steps” in its road map for reopening, he said. 

“Now we can dream bigger, we can go farther,” de Blasio said. 

The mayor said the “next crucial moment” in the city’s reopening plan includes welcoming its students back to the classroom this fall. New York City public schools, the largest school district in the nation, previously postponed the fall semester for its more than 1.1 million students until Sept. 21 after local labor unions asked for greater Covid-19 protection measures. 

Disclosure: Comcast’s NBCUniversal is the parent of CNBC and 

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