New York’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, will go on this year. However, as is the case for all things in 2020, there will be many alterations. You will still get to see giant balloons, colorful animated floats, musical performances, and the arrival of Santa Claus, but all presented in a way that considers COVID-19 safety measures. No one was allowed to watch the balloon inflation this year, so we headed down to the Macy’s parade route this morning to see the preparations. Check out our photos in the gallery above, and read on to learn more about how the parade will work this year.

Preparations take place on the 2020 Macy's Parade route

Preparations have been going on for the past several days around Herald Square. On Tuesday morning, Untapped New York Insider Robyn Roth-Moise spotted pieces of parade floats being put into place. On Wednesday morning, Untapped New York watched groups of marchers as they gathered around Herald Square to practice for the big event. As we walked around the Macy’s parade route, we saw the NYPD, FDNY, and various bands prepping for Thursday. One group we saw, the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Band, will make its Thanksgiving Day Parade debut this year. We also spotted the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and the West Indian Day Parade float and dancers (two events that could not happier this year in New York City due to Covid) and a few of the fanciful floats that will be part of tomorrow’s festivities.

Preparations take place on the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route

Macy's parade route preparationsThe Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Band makes its debut at this year’s parade

The Macy’s parade route has been significantly reduced this year. Instead of the usual 2.5-mile march down Central Park West and Sixth Avenue, festivities will be confined to Herald Square, in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street. The very first Macy’s parade route, in 1924, was six miles long! To eliminate the large crowds that usually come to watch, no spectators will be allowed in-person. Instead, performances that have been taped throughout the week will be broadcast on television along with live elements.

Macy's parade route preparationsFloat pieces get into place on Tuesday morning

Macy’s notes on its website that the parade’s overall number of participants has been reduced by approximately 88% and split over three days. Sadly for many school bands and dance troupes from around the country, this means that their performances have been deferred to next year. It usually takes eighty to one hundred handlers to fly the parade’s signature character balloons, but this year handlers have been replaced by an “innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYPD.” Expect lots of “balloonicles” and cool pieces like the one below! While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is certainly different this year, it is gearing up to be just as magical as it has been for the past 94 years.

Macy's parade route preparations

Next, check out What Does Grand Central Have in Common with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?, NYC Vintage Photos: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Through the Years, and Top 10 Balloon Mishaps at Macy’s NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade