Macy's Iconic Thanksgiving Parade Will Return This Year With Live Spectators

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will once again welcome live spectators this year following a scaled-down event during 2020, the company and New York City announced in a joint statement Wednesday.

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will return in 2021 with live spectators, the company announced Wednesday. This photo shows the 81st Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2007 in New York City. Joe Kohen/WireImage

Entering its 95th year, the 2021 parade will return to its traditional spectacle of ornate floats, massive floating balloon characters, marching bands, and performances from some of the world's most famous musicians.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade proceeded last year but without the cheering crowds. Instead, that event featured select performances in front of Macy's flagship store in Manhattan's Herald's Square, as well taped portions from various locations throughout New York City.

The 2020 parade also allowed the city to give at least a small taste of some of the events that were canceled last year due to the pandemic. It featured small sections with representatives from the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the West Indian Day Parade, and NYC Pride March.

"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City institution for more than nine decades, growing to become an icon of American pop culture as it annually marks the official start of the holiday season," Will Coss, the parade's executive producer, said in a Wednesday press release. "For our 95th celebration, we are delighted to return this cherished holiday tradition closer to its original form as we march down the streets of New York City and into the homes of a nationwide audience."

"We are thrilled to welcome back in its full form the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio added in the statement. "We applaud Macy's work to creatively continue this beloved tradition last year."

The press release said Macy's worked closely with the city and state officials to create an event production plan with health practices aligned with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local protocols.

The city will also manage public viewing locations and safety procedures along designated portions of the route. More details will follow in November regarding how people can access these viewing sites.

The Macy's statement said the company has put in place health and safety guidelines for participants and staff, including the following:

  • All volunteer participants and staff will be vaccinated, with few exceptions being made at the sole discretion of Macy's and its medical consultant based on select extenuating circumstances. For those instances, Macy's medical personnel will administer COVID testing.
  • All participants and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will wear face coverings and additional protective equipment, depending on their role. As appropriate, exceptions may include performers for the national broadcast.
  • Macy's will implement a reduction in overall number of participants of between 10 to 20 percent (approximately 800 to 1,600 participants).
  • Social distancing practices will be in place at all all interior and exterior parade operations.

The 95th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is scheduled to air nationwide on NBC on Thursday, November 25, from 9 a.m. until noon in all time zones.