- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will still be happening this year. But, thanks to the pandemic, it will look quite different.
- “Everybody really felt strongly that it was probably something that we needed for Thanksgiving,” Susan Tercero, the parade’s executive producer, said to Business Insider. “In a time of great change, we wanted to be something that people could rely on.”
- Giving back to the community is a key part of Macy’s brand, Tercero added.
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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is still on this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, like many events that have taken place in 2020, it will look a little different. For one, it’ll be a fully virtual event, filmed over the course of three days on the block of 34th Street where Macy’s Herald Square flagship store is located.
Second, the number of participants will be drastically reduced, with high school marching band performances nixed and a “specially rigged anchor tether framework of five specialty vehicles” flying balloons instead of the traditional 80 to 100 people holding balloons down. A small group of people will make sure they’re taking flight safely.
Susan Tercero, the executive producer of the parade, said that Macy’s leaders decided it was important to still put on the event because of all that people have gone through this year. Many following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have opted to scale down or cancel their Thanksgiving celebrations altogether.
“Everybody really felt strongly that [the parade] was probably something that we needed for Thanksgiving,” she said to Business Insider. “In a time of great change, we wanted to be something that people could rely on.”
The parade has happened every year since 1924, except for three years during World War II.
Being flexible and able to adapt to changes on the fly has been a key part of the process, especially as COVID-19 case numbers have been on the rise in recent weeks. Tercero added that while most of the parade will be pretaped, some parts will take place live on Thanksgiving morning.
Putting on signature events like the parade and the 4th of July Fireworks, which Tercero also produces for Macy’s, is a good opportunity to promote the company brand.
“Macy’s likes to give back to the community. It’s something that’s in our blood and it’s something that we’ve been doing for many, many years. And we see these events as something to give back to the entire country and to New York,” Tercero said.
“We’re deeply rooted in tradition and in the Americana cultural aspects of this country. When you talk about the parade and talk about the fireworks, it’s something that everybody knows about.”
It’s been a challenging year for live events, as everything from weddings and graduations to conferences and concerts have either been canceled, pushed to next year, or gone completely virtual. For this year’s Fourth of July, instead of its traditional fireworks display, Macy’s planned a week-long series of five-minute firework shows around New York City.
In addition to its usual balloons and performances from stars including Dolly Parton, the Macy’s parade will also be paying homage to New York’s cultural scene by inviting performers from events that were either scaled back or canceled due to the pandemic this year. That includes Danza Fiesta, a dance group that would have performed at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, representing the NYC Pride March.
“We wanted to be able to give them that national stage,” Tercero said, adding that showing love to New York, an early epicenter of the pandemic, was important to the company.
“We really wanted to show that we’re resilient. We’re here. New York City is strong and we’re surviving.”
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