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Macy’s parade is on, but only on television

Dive Brief:

  • Macy’s on Monday said its 94th annual Thanksgiving Day parade will be virtual this year, “produced solely as a television event,” in order to take precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic. The show will air Nov. 26 nationwide on NBC, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in all time zones.

  • The retailer worked with New York City officials on the changes, including reducing the number of participants by about 75%, requiring social distancing and face masks, barring anyone younger than 18 and employing specialized vehicles in place of humans to handle the giant balloons.

  • Rather than following the traditional 2.5-mile parade route, the event will be staged in and around Herald Square, where Macy’s flagship sits, according to a company press release.

Dive Insight:

Traditionally, not even rain can rain on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced it to a virtual event. If the retailer was to host any semblance of its signature holiday celebration this year, some things had to be let go, most starkly the fact that many fewer people will be involved.

While the huge character balloons will return, for example, Macy’s won’t inflate them in public on Wednesday night — usually a draw for New Yorkers and tourists alike. The traditional 80 to 100 human balloon handlers are being replaced by specialized vehicles. And high school marching bands won’t get to participate until, hopefully, next year; local professional marching and musical ensembles will take their place, the retailer said.

The parade launched in 1924, when it was just “a two block-long collection of Macy’s colleagues dressed in whimsical clown outfits, playing instruments and adorning floats.” This year will be the first time it will be produced only for television, per Macy’s release.

Macy’s noted that its altered July 4 celebration provided a template for working with the city in preserving some

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