When and how to watch: What to know about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Julia Thompson, USA TODAY
·4 min read

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration is still on this year, though like most things amid the coronavirus pandemic, there will be some key differences, among them: the only way to watch will be on television or online.

Watching the Macy's parade 2020 on TV is a Thanksgiving tradition in many households, and even though many people will be skipping gatherings or are doing so on Zoom, the Macy's parade can be a reminder of some amount of normalcy in an abnormal year.

There won't be spectators in person, but viewers can still watch at home Thursday morning online or live on NBC. Here's how, where and what time to watch the Macy's parade:

What time is the parade today in NYC?

The 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will start at 9 a.m. ET Thursday, Nov. 26, in New York City.

When and how to watch the Macy's parade today

Watch the Macy's parade live on NBC, Thursday, Nov. 26, 9 a.m.-noon in all time zones. You can also watch the parade online via the Verizon and NBC live stream on YouTube. Telemundo will broadcast the parade in Spanish.

Will people be watching the Macy's parade in person?

While the festivities have historically drawn massive crowds to the streets of Manhattan — there were about 3.5 million in-person spectators along the 2.5-mile parade route in 2019 — this year, all activity will be focused on the Herald Square area of Midtown, and the only way to watch will be on television.

“For New Yorkers who typically see it live and in person, this change for them is that they are going to experience it the same way the rest of the country experiences it," said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. "But I think for the rest of country, it’s not going to be too different.

"They’re still going to see the balloons. They’re still going to see the floats. They’re still going to see Santa and Broadway and all of these elements that they’re used to seeing every single year. They’re still going to see those things. They might have some differences in that we’re going to see some social distancing. We’re going to have masks, things like that. But it’s still going to be the parade they know and love.”

Who's hosting the Macy's parade?

“Today” hosts Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker will host the main broadcast for NBC. Adamari Lopez, Rodner Figueroa, Jessica Carrillo and Nastassja Bolivar will host for Telemundo, and Mario Lopez will host the Verizon live stream.

What celebrities will perform at the Macy's parade?

Viewers will also be able to see a cavalcade of stars: country icon Dolly Parton, soul legend Patti LaBelle, "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks and "Hamilton" Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. are among the event's scheduled performers.

In addition, dancers from the New York City Ballet and the casts of Broadway shows "Hamilton," "Jagged Little Pill," "Ain't Too Proud" and "Mean Girls" will perform, marking a return to the spotlight following Broadway's COVID-caused shutdown in mid-March.

What will be different about the Macy's parade amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

There will be staggered call times, social distancing on site, masks and wellness checks, with the production following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Additionally, no parade participants this year will be younger than 18, and previously-selected high school and college marching bands will perform in 2021 while locally-based professional marching and musical ensembles will be heard this year, according to a news release.

Macy's parade balloons and floats

The parade's larger character balloons, typically anchored by 80 to 100 trained handlers and a vehicle, will now be anchored by five specially-rigged vehicles.

Speaking of the balloons, the 2020 parade will offer plenty of new attractions for viewers, including a 48-feet-tall inflatable "Boss Baby" and Red Titan from the YouTube series "Ryan's World."

There also will be parade floats for animated legends Tom and Jerry ahead of their 2021 return to the silver screen; the new "Christmas in Town Square" float inspired by Lifetime's "It's a Wonderful Lifetime" holiday film extravaganza; and "Her Future is STEMsational," a float presented by Olay celebrating women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Where can I get more details about the Macy's parade?

For more details on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, visit macys.com/social/parade.

Contributing: Alex Biese, Asbury Park Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Macy's parade 2020: What time and how to watch Thanksgiving parade