(CNN) – Last year, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a bit quiet. Due to the pandemic, it was a television-only event. There were no lively crowds lining the avenues of Manhattan. There was no long parade route.
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The 2021 show will return to the best-known parade of yesteryear. Travelers and residents will have 2.5 miles of view open to the public as balloons, floats and bands make their way from the Upper West Side to the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.
New York City resident Lisa Fischer is simply delighted with the 95th annual parade, which begins at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday.
“Obviously, I had to see it on TV” last year, he told CNN Travel. “It was still fun and it brought back great memories.” But Fischer said it wasn’t the same experience without the energy of the street and the old traditions.
Fischer has many treasured experiences in the parade.
When his two sons were younger, Fischer used to take them to watch the giant balloons blow up. Then they would watch the parade on television in their pajamas the next day.
Around 2004, they had a particularly memorable moment watching closely.
“We were in the stands right in front of Macy’s,” Fischer said. “I was lucky enough to get tickets and right across from where it was televised. It was a lot of fun.”
This is what the people who are there and also those who will see it on television can expect:
Macy’s 2021 Parade Route
A Goku balloon floats by at the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2019. The 2021 event will bring back the longest parade route. James Devaney / Getty Images
The 2020 show took place in a small area around the Macy’s flagship store, enough space to organize and broadcast it.
This year it will take a more traditional route, starting at West 77th Street and Central Park West, but with no or limited public visibility there, according to the official website for the parade. Macy’s.
Early risers begin arriving around 6 a.m. Thursday at Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st streets. This section is considered to have excellent views. The parade will then make a turn at Columbus Circle, where again there will be no view for the public.
After a relatively short distance down Central Park South, the parade will head south on 6th Avenue for the long drive to Midtown Manhattan. Macy’s promotes views from West 59th to West 38th streets.
These are the new balloons in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The parade makes its final turn on 34th Street and ends in front of the flagship store (there is no public view here, either).
Forecasts say that Santa Claus will have no major weather problems for his appearance in the parade in 2021. James Devaney / Getty Images
Year after year, this big question always comes up: will the winds keep the balloons from flying?
There is nothing in the computerized forecast models to indicate that the winds will approach the threshold, according to CNN meteorologist Judson Jones.
So “let the balloons fly,” Jones said.
Not only that, but the weather will be cool and beautiful, Jones said. It can get a bit chilly in the first hours, between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius. But by the time Santa gets to Herald Square, it will be mostly sunny with temperatures around 10 degrees, if not a little warmer, he said.
How to watch it from home
Can’t you be there in person?
NBC is the network that officially broadcasts the parade and coverage begins at 9 am in all US time zones. Hosts for the parade are Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker from the “Today” show.
The simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo will be hosted by Ana Jurka and Carlos Adyan. NBC also offers streaming on its new Peacock Premium platform.
CBS will also cover the parade from 9 am to noon. And it will be broadcast live on its Paramount Plus Premium platform.
You can also watch it if you have live TV streaming services like FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.
The Hampton University Band is scheduled to appear in the 2021 parade. Bennett Raglin / Getty Images
It’s hard to beat that head-to-toe tingle that a good marching band produces. And Macy’s features some of America’s best. Some bands of the musical parade of 2021:
The Hampton University Marching Force: This high-energy Virginia band performed at the 2020 New Years Day Parade and Celebration in Rome and their drum line was at the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade. NYPD Marching Band: Made up of agents from Musically inclined police officer is a crowd favorite. The Ann Richards Marching Stars: From deep in the heart of Texas, the band is the only competitive band in the country made up exclusively of women, according to Macy’s. Centerville High School Jazz Band: Hailing from Ohio, the band is known for its traditional and contemporary treatments of big band jazz. They are ready to perform “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Interpreters
Darren Criss at the 74th Annual Tony Awards at the Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021 in New York. He will be one of the featured performers in the Macy’s parade. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images
The parade will also feature singers, musicians, and entertainers from a wide variety of genres. Some of the many stars scheduled to appear on the show include:
The K-pop quartet Aespa Country singer Chris Lane “Glee” star and Broadway actor Darren Criss Classic rock band Foreigner New Orleans jazz singer, songwriter and pianist Jon Batiste Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth from the famous “Wicked” Innovative country singer Mickey Guyton St. Louis rapper Nelly Globos
Macy’s introduces new giant character balloons for the 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is Toni, Macy’s lead bassist. Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images
Those huge balloons that give giant visual thrills will be back. A small sample of what you will see:
Scientist Ada Twist: From the Netflix series, she makes her balloon debut this year about the height of a four-story building. Tiptoe the Reindeer, also making his balloon debut Astronaut Snoopy, the ninth balloon iteration of the Peanuts character The 14-meter-tall Pillsbury Doughboy Smokey Bear, the star of America’s oldest public service announcement, according to Macy’s
You will also see funny “balloonicles”: part balloon, part vehicle and part float.
Another beloved tradition, that the public can see how they prepare the balloons, returned this year. It took place on Wednesday on the Upper West Side.
The giant balloon incidents that have marked the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade Floats
Entertainer Donny Osmond stood on top of a turkey float during the 1981 parade. AP
Closer to the ground but just as festive are the creative parades floats multi-level. Some fun to watch this year include:
Louisiana Office of Tourism Celebration Gator 1-2-3 Sesame Street Float Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree, featuring the voices of more than 100 Macy’s workers And of course Santa’s sleigh Safety and Security
While full vaccination was required to attend the balloon inflation event on Wednesday afternoon, there is no Covid-19 vaccination requirement for the public to view the parade from the sidewalks on Thursday morning. People are encouraged to wear masks and dress accordingly for the late November weather in New York City.
Spectators are asked to avoid bringing large bags, umbrellas, backpacks, and strollers. The public entering the observation streets could be subjected to a security search.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday there were no “specific and credible threats” against the city’s Thanksgiving Day parade. However, Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea said his officers would be on high alert.
“We never rest on our laurels and we are going to have thousands of officers to make sure you don’t have to think about security,” he said.
Reporters asked de Blasio on Monday if the Wisconsin Christmas parade incident that left six people dead after a pickup truck crashed into a crowd would affect New York City’s safety plan.
“It is tragic and horrible what happened in Wisconsin but, I will tell you, the New York Police Department for years and years has planned very careful security around the parade,” said the mayor.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become a Christmas tradition since it began on Christmas in 1924.
Lisa Fischer said she plans to get up very early Thursday, have coffee, call a couple of friends, and see if she can find a spot on the sidewalk to look.
Fischer has an enviable backup plan if it’s not to your liking.
Your apartment at 60th Street and Amsterdam Avenue near Lincoln Center gives you a bird’s-eye view of Columbus Circle, where the parade will take a turn.
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She also has an incredible personal simulcast situation. Your television is set up so that you can watch the broadcast and watch the parade pass through your apartment window at the same time.
“I’m excited to see him in person this year. It’s not Thanksgiving without the parade. It’s the start of the holiday season,” she said.
“New York feels a little lighter for the first time in 18 months … Now there are a lot of Christmas decorations. Apparently there are more tourists. The atmosphere doesn’t feel as heavy. I feel more optimistic.”
CNN’s Evan Simko-Bednarski and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.