Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City: 16 giant balloons and 700 clowns

Crowds of spectators lined the streets of New York on Thursday as colorful, high-flying balloons helped usher in the holiday season during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The annual tradition, which dates back nearly a century, fills the streets as a procession of giant inflatables and floats winds over 40 blocks from Central Park to Herald Square.

Children balance on top of metal barricades and hang from scaffolding to watch the balloons amid mostly sunny skies and little wind.

“Blue, Blue. There’s Blue,” shouted Divyam Kumar, 6, as his father helped balance him and his 4-year-old brother Aanu Aryan on a metal rail.

The young man is referring to the star of the animated show “Blue’s Clues” — not to be confused with the international cartoon sensation Bluey, an Australian cattle pup making his parade debut.

Bluey’s balloon rose as high as a four-story building and was as wide as seven taxi cabs.

Stuart, the one-eyed Minion, was also there to rouse the crowd.

But it was Snoopy that caught the eye of Brenner Chenenko, 8, more than the more contemporary pups.

“This is 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 father and son saw the parade in person. Wopperer last saw a parade live three years ago, before the pandemic sidelined the event for a year.

Snoopy, dressed as an astronaut, is followed by another old favorite, Papa Smurf.

This year’s parade will feature 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 band Fitz and the Tantrums; boy band Big Time Rush; “Blue and You’s Clues!” 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 Nga 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 are on a float celebrating Central Park.

President Biden and Jill Biden called the parade, as he did last year. Biden thanked firefighters, police officers and first responders, saying, “They never take a break.”

They thanked the troops and Biden said he would reach out to talk to some now.

Asked about their plans for the day in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the Bidens said it would involve family, and some time spent locally, thanking first responders.

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Associated Press reporter Deepti Hajela contributed to this story.

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