The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of those big cultural events that bring people together. Even if it’s just playing on the TV in the background, the show represents a specific change in the seasons and a normal part of the year. Unfortunately, 2020 is one of the most non-normal years any of us have ever experienced. As such, the yearly extravaganza is going to be another reminder of how Not Okay things are this year.
The 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be presented in a virtual format this year. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement and Macy’s confirmed the change. The normally grandiose affair will also be significantly scaled down. There will not be the usual 2.5-mile route and there will only be five specialty vehicles carrying the iconic floats.
Large gatherings are still prohibited in New York due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is going to be doing everything it can to present the yearly show without the huge crowds of people in the streets. Some of the new guidelines include:
- Reducing the number of parade participants by 75%
- Socially distanced performers and requiring them to wear face masks and other personal protective equipment depending on their specific role
- No participants under the age of 18
- Replacing balloon handlers with specialty vehicles
- Making the show a television-only broadcast that is staged solely around the Herald Square part of Midtown Manhattan
Macy’s announced last month that the event would be redesigned and that they would be following CDC guidelines as well as the protocols set in place by the local and state authorities. The entire event will be broadcast on NBC, the official station for the parade since 1953, on November 26 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Interestingly, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was actually canceled from 1942 to 1944 during World War II. Apparently, that was a more pressing reason to shut the festivities down than a pandemic. Hopefully, the event will be able to go off without any issues and everyone involved can remain safe.
It is going to be extremely weird to see an event like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with social distancing and pandemic planning in place. There is an argument to be made that attempting to adapt to pandemic life has only highlighted how strange things are right now. Seeing “normal” events with tons of people in face masks and a lack of crowds emphasizes that we are still in the middle of a game-changing moment in history.
On the flip side, you can say that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade trudging forward is a symbol of resilience during these trying times. Providing a joyful respite from the pandemic could be exactly what a lot of people need right now. As long as it can be done safely, then maybe that is a valuable experience for a number of people to have. Regardless, 2020 continues to be an ever-changing reminder that things are still weird all over. Heck, we may have even discovered aliens this year. It can always get weirder.