By BOBBY CAINA CALVAN (Associated Press)
NEW YORK (AP) — Crowds of onlookers lined the streets of New York City Thursday as colorful, high-flying balloons helped usher in the holiday season at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
The annual tradition, which dates back nearly a century, filled the streets with a procession of giant inflatables and floating floats over more than 40 blocks from Central Park to Herald Square.
Children balanced on metal barricades and hung from scaffolding to watch the balloons in mostly sunny skies and a light breeze.
“Blue blue. There’s Blue,” shouted 6-year-old Divyam Kumar as her father helped balance her with her 4-year-old brother, Aanu Aryan, on a metal rail.
The youngster was referring to the star of the animated show ‘Blue’s Clues’ – not to be confused with international cartoon sensation Bluey, an Australian cattle pup making his parade debut.
Bluey’s balloon was as tall as a four-story building and stretched as wide as seven taxis.
Stuart, the one-eyed Minion, was also there to thrill the crowd.
But it was Snoopy who particularly caught the attention of 8-year-old Brenner Chenenko, even more so than more contemporary puppies.
“It’s one of the classics,” said the youngster from Rochester, New York, who lined the parade route with his father Nate and grandfather John Wopperer.
It was the first time the father and son had seen the parade in person. Wopperer last saw a live parade three years ago, before the pandemic sidelined the event for a year.
Snoopy, dressed as an astronaut, was followed by another long-time favourite, Papa Smurf.
This year’s parade featured 16 giant balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, 12 marching bands, 10 performance groups, 700 clowns and a Santa Claus.
The procession of characters was joined by singer Paula Abdul, in her first parade appearance; indie pop group Fitz and the Tantrums; boy band Big Time Rush; “Blue’s clues and you!” » host Josh Dela Cruz; singer Gloria Estefan; gospel singer Kirk Franklin; actor Mario Lopez; reggae star Ziggy Marley; and Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles.
Singers Joss Stone, Jordin Sparks and Betty Who were also part of the festivities, as were the stars of Peacock’s “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin” – Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg. Jimmy Fallon & The Roots were on a float celebrating Central Park.
President Biden and Jill Biden called for the parade, as he did last year. Biden thanked firefighters, police and first responders, saying, “They never take a break.”
They thanked the troops and Biden said he would reach out to speak to some today.
Asked about their plans for the day in Nantucket, Mass., the Bidens said it would involve family and some time spent locally, thanking first responders.
In Plymouth, Mass., the English colony founded by the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower, two annual events were held to encompass “all aspects” of the holiday, city officials said.
Costumed participants re-enacted their annual ‘Pilgrim Progress’ Thanksgiving Day procession, representing the 51 survivors of that brutal first winter of 1621 – although Thursday’s crew had better conditions, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s.
There was also a “National Day of Mourning” honoring Indigenous ancestors and protesting against racism and oppression. “We are not winning, we are not conquered, we are stronger than ever,” read a sign behind the loudspeakers.
Associated Press reporters Deepti Hajela and Kathy McCormack contributed to this story.