The annual Thanksgiving Day parade kicks off today in New York in front of millions of spectators.
The parade is back in full swing this year after two years of COVID restrictions. The parade follows a 2.5 mile route from the Upper West Side to 34th Street.
Dressed up and ready to fly, Dina and Dina Dina are among the familiar balls about to glide down the streets.
“We’re here to see the balloons for the first time,” said parade spectator Monica Debride. “We’re New Yorkers, born and raised, but I was really excited to bring my daughter with me for the first time.”
Around 3 million people will be on the sidelines watching 8,000 acts officially kick off the holiday season. For many, the fun began yesterday as crowds gathered throughout the day to watch the balloon inflation.
“We didn’t realize how big they were. Now we can see why they’re all attached,” said Cindy Mandat, a visitor from Florida.
This year there will be 16 huge character balloons, 28 floats, a dozen marching bands, 700 clowns and, of course, Santa Claus.
“My favorite was Diary of a Wimp,” said parade viewer Alex Williams.
The New York Police Department is beefing up security as a precaution for the holiday parade after two recent mass shootings days apart in Virginia and Colorado, but police say there is no known, credible threat to the holiday.
“Rest assured, there will be officers you will see and officers you will not,” said Police Commissioner Kychant Sewell. “We are here in the air. We are here in the crowd. We are here on the route. We are here to ensure your safety.’
Some of the big balloons that people said they would be watching for are Minions, Papa Smurf, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Paula Abdul, Kirk Franklin and Broadway’s Funny Girl will also perform and perform.