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Macy’s Tweaks Traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade

Just as Macy’s reimagined its traditional July 4th fireworks display, the retailer will host this year’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration in a pandemic-friendly format.

Reimagining a safe production of the annual holiday tradition will also allow Macy’s to use the event as a marketing tool to keep its name at the forefront of consumers’ minds during a period when social distancing, and maybe even quarantine fatigue, are wearing Americans down.

The celebration will shift to a television-only presentation, which Macy’s said attracts more than 50 million viewers nationwide on Thanksgiving Day. The parade will still have its signature mix of giant character helium balloons, floats, street performers and the arrival of Santa Claus.

What’s different?

Instead of the traditional 80 to 100 balloon handlers, they will be flown attached to specially rigged anchor vehicles. The event is skipping the usual balloon inflation event along with the traditional 2.5-mile parade route. Also, out-of-town high school and college marching bands selected for this year’s parade celebration will be deferred to the 2021 Macy’s Parade. Local professional marching and musical ensembles will take over musical duties in the lineup, and staging for the television-broadcast-only production will be focused in and around Manhattan’s Herald Square.

“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,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “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.”

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that the city’s pride in joining “Macy’s to ring in the holiday season with New Yorkers and viewers around the world.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Macy’s team on a safe and creative plan this year,” he added, “and we look forward to keeping this tradition going on Thanksgiving Day.”

To safely produce the parade in the wake of a global pandemic Macy’s partnered with the City of New York to create a safe plan that would keep the tradition alive. Following the success of this summer’s reimagined Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show, the Macy’s said its team looked at every area of the Thanksgiving Day playbook to put in place enhanced health and safety practices that align with CDC guidelines, as well as local and state government protocols.

At the Goldman Sachs 27th Global Retailing Conference last week, CEO Jeff Gennette said the department store retailer is “ready for holiday 2020.”

“America comes to Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s for gifting [and] we have a strong gifting plan with about 50 percent of our content that will be brand new,” he said. “We’ve done lots of preparation. We’ve look at lots of contingency planning for both upside as well as downside challenges.”