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How to watch the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and what to expect

The coronavirus pandemic upended a lot of summer, fall and now winter events, including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 26.
Credit: AP
Participates make their way down New York's Central Park West during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

WASHINGTON — Like a lot of things in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic changed the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from a massive in-person celebration to only a televised event.

Some major changes to this year's parade amid the pandemic includes reducing the number of participants by 75%, not using the traditional 2.5-mile parade route, and using vehicles to anchor the giant character balloons instead of dozens of people.

"This year the celebration will shift to a television only special presentation, showcasing the Macy’s Parade’s signature mix of giant character helium balloons, fantastic floats, street performers, clowns and heralding the arrival of the holiday season with the one-and-only Santa Claus," Macy's said in a press release.

RELATED: Santa Claus won't be coming to flagship Macy's this year

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How to Watch

The event will be aired on NBC on Thursday, November 26, 2020, from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones.

Macy's said since floats and balloons won't be marching down the streets of New York City this year, so the only place to see all of the performances "is from the comfort & safety of your home."

Telemundo will be simulcasting the parade in Spanish and there'll be an encore presentation from 2-5 p.m. There will also be a parade livestream, hosted by Mario Lopez, on Verizon's Twitter and YouTube platforms starting at 9 a.m. Eastern. 

Parade Performers Lineup

Macy's released a full list of the musical performers making an appearance on floats during the parade. Here's the breakdown:

  • Ally Brooke, Float Appearance: Blue's Clues & You! from Nickelodeon
  • Bebe Rexha, Float Appearance: Big Turkey Spectacular from Jennie-O
  • Brett Young, Float Appearance: Harvest in the Valley from Green Giant
  • Camille Schrier, Float Appearance: Patriotic Top Hat from Macy's
  • CNCO, Float Appearance: Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles from Nickelodeon
  • Dolly Parton, Float Appearance: Home Sweet Home from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
  • Ella Mai, Float Appearance: Fantasy Chocolate Factory from Kinder
  • Jimmie Allen, Float Appearance: Winning Winter Together by MassMutual and NHL
  • Jordan Sparks,  Float Appearance: Splashing Safari Adventure from Kalahari Resorts and Conventions
  • Karol G,  Float Appearance: Her Future is Stem-sational from Olay
  • Keke Palmer,  Float Appearance: Rexy in the City from Coach
  • Lauren Alania,  Float Appearance: Mount Rushmore's American Pride from South Dakota Department of Tourism
  • Leslie Odom Jr.,  Float Appearance: Toy House of Marvelous Milestones from New York Life
  • New York City Ballet,  Float Appearance: Central Park from Delta Air Lines
  • Noah Cyrus,  Float Appearance: Winning Winter Together by MassMutual and NHL
  • Patti Labelle,  Float Appearance: Deck the Halls from Balsam Hill
  • Pentatonix,  Float Appearance: Heartwarming Holiday Countdown from Hallmark Channel
  • Sebastian Yatra,  Float Appearance: The Brick-Changer from The Lego Group
  • Sofia Carson,  Float Appearance: Everyone's Favorite Bake Shop from Entenmann's
  • Tori Kelly,  Float Appearance: Christmas in Town Square from Lifetime

While Broadway shows have been shut down since March, the parade will feature performances by the casts of “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls,” “Jagged Little Pill,” and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” according to the New York Times. The Broadway performances will be filmed ahead of time, but will air with the rest of the parade. 

Credit: AP
Astronaut Snoopy balloon makes its way down New York's Central Park West during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Safety Measures

Macy's released a breakdown of how its participants are staying healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It said it put into place "a number of enhanced health and wellness procedures and protocols."

The company said it followed local and state government protocols as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. It said it retained a "nationally renowned expert in medical planning for large special events" to provide health and safety advice as well.

Here's the breakdown of what steps the company took to keep everyone safe:

  • Reduced the overall number of participants by approximately 75% and splitting the remaining participants over a two-day participation period.
  • All participants will be appropriately socially distanced during performances and be required to wear face masks and additional personal protective equipment depending on their role.
  • In order to avoid gathering large crowds along our traditional 2.5-mile route, Macy's shorten the march to shift to a television-broadcast-only production with staging for Parade elements focused solely in/around the Herald Square area of Midtown Manhattan.
  • No participant in the Parade will be under 18 years of age.
  • The parade has limited general participants to those who reside in the New York tri-state area.
  • Previously selected regional High School and College Marching Band performances will be deferred to the 2021 Macy’s Parade, with locally-based professional marching and musical ensembles taking musical duties in the lineup.
  • Macy’s annual giant balloon Inflation Celebration on Wednesday will not take place.
  • In order to significantly reduce the number of people needed to fly our giant balloons, Macy’s signature element will be flown without the usual 80-100 handlers and instead employ an innovative, specially-rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD.

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