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No Balloons, No Bars: New Yorkers Kick Off Holiday Season Like No Other Without Usual Thanksgiving Eve Traditions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The pandemic is disrupting many holiday traditions, including Wednesday's balloon inflation for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It was uncharacteristically quiet on West 77th Street on Wednesday night.

"Normally the night before Thanksgiving in this neighborhood, there are thousands of people, there are lines around the block," Upper West Side resident Tracie Holder told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

It's usually where the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are inflated, but this year, both the parade and the balloon inflation are being done without crowds.

"It's a Thanksgiving tradition, but I guess 2020 is just the year of disappointments," Battery Park resident Jackie Denomme said.

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

Hibernia is usually packed the night before Thanksgiving, but this year, it was empty. (Credit: CBS2)

Thanksgiving Eve is also traditionally a big night for bars and pubs with old friends reuniting while back home for the holiday.

"Used to always be a party here," said Eddie McGhee, manager of Hibernia in Hell's Kitchen.

At a time when they need business the most, the bar is empty.

"We are down basically 100% for Thanksgiving Eve at this point," McGhee said.

At the Mikhail house in Westfield, New Jersey, this year's Thanksgiving preps include a diesel-powered heater.

"We rented a tent, we rented tables, we rented chairs and we have told everyone that's coming that there is a strict mask rule if you're gonna be inside," said Jeannine Mikhail.

RELATED STORY: Families Finding Ways To Make Virtual Thanksgiving Work With COVID Cases Spiking Across Country

Shoppers lined up outside Trader Joe's the night before Thanksgiving. (Credit: CBS2)

One thing that hasn't changed -- long lines at the grocery store.

But it's stress-free shopping for grandmother Juliet Ewers-Wolf, of Jamaica.

"The family cannot come over tomorrow because we want to play it safe," she said.

So for the first Thanksgiving in years, she's not cooking turkey.

"I don't like turkey that much," she said.

RELATED STORY: Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner For The First Time? Chef Karan Fischer Has Some Advice

It's a very different first for Hannah Djavadi and Andrew Luher, of the Flatiron District.

"I've never actually made a turkey on my own, embarrassingly," Djavadi said.

Since they can't fly home for turkey dinner because of the pandemic, they're trying it on their own.

"I'm scared I'm gonna way overcook the turkey, so that's my biggest fear," Luher said.

RELATED STORY: Health Experts: Don't Give In To Pressure To Host Or Attend In-Person Thanksgiving Dinners

While many miss the traditions, they say it's worth it to keep everyone safe and healthy.

"It is sad that we're all sort of off in our isolated camps, but we're all... we have to do what we need to do to stay safe," Holder said.

It might not look like the eve of Thanksgiving, but looking out for each other is what the holidays are all about.


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