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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes flight in virus times

The balloons were in the sky and the marching bands took to the streets for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, but coronavirus restrictions meant it was without the throngs of people usually scrambling for a view.

Instead of the usual path through Manhattan, this year's parade was kept to the area in front of Macy's flagship store and aimed at a television audience instead of live crowds.

There were some familiar balloon faces, of course, including Snoopy, Ronald McDonald, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

The characters Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are helped from their float at the end of the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

But the bigger balloons were missing the numerous handlers who would normally be walking underneath and holding the ropes. This year, they were attached to vehicles that kept them moving and decreased the number of people needed.

A number of entertainers performed, including Pentatonix, Keke Palmer and Sofia Carson, and a slew of Broadway shows were represented in taped performances from their casts.

Even with the pandemic protocols, the fact that the parade took place made it a rare festivity in a city that has seen most of its major events cancelled over the last year because of the virus.

A large balloon appears through a narrow passageway from a street adjacent to the parade route during the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

The parade organizers recognized that reality, including representatives of some of the New York City parades that hadn't been able to happen — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and NYC Pride March.

The Boss Baby balloon, viewed from a barricade two blocks away, makes an appearance during the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

People watch the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from about two blocks away in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

Floats that are part of the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are seen from the Empire State Building in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

People attempt to take photos as the last floats that are part of the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade move away in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)

A New York City police officer takes a photo for a passerby as the modified Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade moves along a few blocks away in the background, in New York, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Due to the pandemic, crowds of onlookers were not allowed to attend the annual parade. (AP PhotoCraig Ruttle)