Watch CBS News

Macy's Announces Changes For Thanksgiving Day Parade: For First Time Ever, It Will Be TV-Only

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It's shaping up to be a different kind of holiday season, as yet another iconic New York City tradition is being scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be dramatically scaled back.

For almost 100 years now, the parade has marched through the heart of Midtown, right up to Macy's. But this year, things will be different, CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported.

We've long associated the giant inflatable balloons with the Thanksgiving Day parade. People of all ages have come to the site to enjoy the tradition - but not this year.

"My dad used to bring me to these parades. I used to always dream of holding the floats," said Sam Williams. "I kind of think that's sad, but then again, look at the times."

"I've worked the detail, but I've never actually gone to the parade. I would say it's pointless to go. Just watch it on TV. That's what I've always thought," said James Mandela.

"Who wants to be in those huge crowds? If I do watch it, I watch it on TV anyways," said Lailah Lancing.

Reverend Green has gone to plenty of parades. He has lived in Midtown for years and says that it's the pandemic that'll actually make this year's event more special.

"Even if it's on a miniature scale, they're going to really enjoy it, because they understand the situation. We're not operating in normal circumstances," he said.

At City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio made it clear: Things aren't normal.

"It will not be the same parade we're used to. It will be a different kind of event. They're reinventing the event for this moment in history," de Blasio said.

The special presentation will showcase the parade's signature mix of giant character balloons, floats and performers.

Watch Kevin Rincon's Report:

This year, the parade won't go down the normal 2.5 mile route from the Upper West Side. Instead, performances will contained in a small area in Herald Square for TV cameras only - there will be no live spectators. The events will happen over a two day period.

Something else that won't be happening: The traditional balloon inflation the night before, near the American Museum of Natural History.

Among the other changes:

  • About 75% fewer participants.
  • The event will instead be stretched out over two days
  • No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to take part, meaning no regional high school or college marching bands

As for the balloons, they'll be rolled through the streets on cars, so no handlers holding them down.

Many understand the changes are necessary.

"We're just doing what we need to do to make sure we're all safe and make smart decisions," said one person.

"It has to be, because of the virus. That's safety. You have to keep the safety among the people," another person said.

"It's a change. It's an adjustment. But, it's something we're going to have to get used to for the time being," said another.

"Macy's believes in celebration and the joy of marking milestone moments with family and friends. The Macy's Parade is our love letter and gift to the city of New York and the nation. Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families," said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "While it will certainly look different in execution, this year's Macy's parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose – to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation."


Thanksgiving isn't the only holiday that's sure to feel different. CBS2's Alice Gainer saw several people going into a Spirit Halloween store.

The company said it's actually opened more stores in North America this year than in 2019: 1,360 stores last year; 1,400 this year.

But, how people plan to navigate Halloween parties and Trick-or-Treating is still up in the air.

This is also the time of year to apply for seasonal work. Many companies are now hiring.

UPS says it needs about 6,000 workers in New York and New Jersey.

Best Buy says it need thousands for its stores and distribution centers.

FedEx expects to add more than 70,000 positions leading up to peak season.

Amazon is hiring, too.

As for Christmas, CBS2 asked Macy's about plans for Santa in the store this year. They said they're working on reinventing how they bring Santa to the public and that details will be announced at a later date.

You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.