Is Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Cancelled? How The Event Will Be Different This Year

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to flip the world upside down, people across the United States are adjusting. That includes making changes to their Thanksgiving plans to help keep their families safe and to help slow the virus' spread. Like many yearly traditions in 2020, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will go on as scheduled, but with major differences.

Typically, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade spans a two and a half mile route through New York City as crowds of people gather to catch glimpses of their favorite inflatable characters, celebrities on floats, fantastic marching band performances, and of course, Santa Claus arriving at the entrance to the Macy's store on 34th Street. To account for proper safety precautions, the celebration this year will be filmed over the course of a few days, with some live portions on Thursday, and just take place at the end of the normal route.

In order to ensure that it's as safe as possible, the event will only be shown on TV, and no one will be able to attend in person.

"We've spread it out over several days. There will be a lot of live elements on Thursday, but there won't be live elements that people can come and watch," Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade executive producer Susan Tercero told Newsweek in a video call on Tuesday.

"Our safely reimagined broadcast will continue that cherished tradition, as viewers nationwide celebrate together bringing a much-needed sense of normalcy to our lives," Tercero said in a statement.

During the Tuesday interview, Tercero said that not marching down the New York streets was the biggest change for the show. "One of the biggest differences is that we're not going to be marching down our annual route. We won't be starting at 77th and coming down the parade route, because it's just not a parade that we could have this year safely."

"What we will be doing is having a broadcast for everybody across the country with the same elements that they're used to seeing: the floats, the balloons, the Broadway shows, Santa, all those things are still happening. It's going to look a little different, because of that. People will be socially distanced. We'll have a lot fewer people who will participate in it, but I think there's still going to be some really special moments that people enjoy," Tercero continued.

While the event will hopefully remain fun for the whole family, safety is the chief concern going into the parade this year." In preparation for this one-of-a-kind celebration, the Macy's team meticulously reviewed every area of the Parade playbook to put in place enhanced health and safety practices that align with CDC guidelines, as well as local and state government protocols," the safety page on the parade's website said.

While many of the trademarks of the parade will still be viewable to families watching at home, the company did take precautions seriously and listed steps it would take to ensure safety was a chief concern on its website's FAQ.

According to a press release, Macy's reduced the number of participants by about 88 percent. The participants would receive COVID tests and be divided over the course of three days. Performers will be socially distanced and required to wear face coverings.

"Most of the performers will be [wearing face coverings]. Those that won't be are the singers, but they won't be in close contact. Everybody else who's participating that won't be singing will wear a face covering," Tercero said on Tuesday.

Additionally, all participants are above the age of 18, and most are from the New York tri-state area. Also, the large inflatables will not be held by human handlers as they are traditionally but rather, hooked onto vehicles.

High school and college marching bands that were selected for the parade this year were also pushed to next year, with more local acts stepping in. The press release also said that "a minute selection of elements" from past parades would be in the broadcast.

Another tradition that has been canceled is the inflation ceremony the night before Thanksgiving where New Yorkers and visitors can gather to see the balloons get filled with air in preparation for the big day.

The re-imagined parade will be aired on NBC and Telemundo from 9 a.m. until noon in all local time zones. Verizon will also stream the show live from 9 a.m. ET on its YouTube channel and Twitter.

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Balloon handlers fight the strong wind gusts and bring out Opening Macy's Stars down Central Park West during the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Getty/Ira L. Black/Corbis