A crowd of 3 million people gathered on Manhattan’s streets to catch the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where pop icon Paula Abdul wowed with a dazzling tap dance routine.
With temperatures rising to a high of 50 on Thursday morning along with clear skies, spectators should have a clear view of the 16 giant balloon characters set to fly at 9 a.m.
Rather than eyes fixated on the skies, however, spectators were fixed on Abdul’s energetic performance of her hit, ‘Straight Up,’ as the 60-year-old proved she can still awe audiences.
While all eyes were on Abdul, viewers may notice the absence of The Today Show’s Al Roker, who will miss the event for the first time in 27 years after being hospitalized for blood clots.
Among those wishing Roker a speedy recovery was President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who called into the show as they also thanked first responders and the troops.
The 3 million attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were fixated on pop icon Paula Abdul
Abdul took the streets with a dazzling performance of her pop hit, ‘Straight Up,’ as the 60-year-old finished an energetic tap dancing routine that wowed audiences
About 3 million people are expected to attend the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan as the weather warms up and skies are clear for the giant balloons
Snoopy is the most prevalent character at the parade, featuring his iconic astronaut outfit. It is 49 feet tall
Among the most popular balloons hitting the streets was Spongebob Squarepants. The float is 44 feet tall or as high as a four story building and as wide as seven taxi cabs
Following closely behind was The Pillsbury Doughboy (above), who towers at 46 feet tall and 34 feet wide
Among the characters taking to the skies was The Boss Baby, seen soaring as spectators looked on from their balconies. He is one of the taller balloons at a whopping 48 feet tall and 28 feet wide
Broadway singer Lea Michele kicked off the annual Thanksgiving Day parade with a dazzling performance
Michele performed ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from her Broadway Show ‘Funny Girl’
Organizers said the parade will begin in the city’s Upper West Side and end at Macy’s iconic store at Herald Square
Tom Turkey could be seen as the Thanksgiving parade officially kicked off in Manhattan with the cutting of the red ribbon
The lead parade marching band was seen playing on the way to Herald Square
The streets were completely packed as people crowded to see the parade
Along with the balloons, 28 floats will be making their way to Herald Square. Pictured: Lego’s Brick-Changer float
Notably missing is Today Show host Al Roker (pictured), who will be absent for the first time in 27 years after being hospitalized for blood clots
Despite Roker’s absence, the show went on without the popular host as Broadway singer Lea Michele kicked off the festivities with a performance of ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from her Broadway Show ‘Funny Girl.’
Along with the iconic balloons, the parade will also feature 28 floats, 12 marching bands, 700 clowns and several music stars are set to make their way through on Thanksgiving Day.
Organizers said the parade will begin in the city’s Upper West Side and end at Macy’s iconic store at Herald Square.
The attendance is predicted to include 500,000 more people than last year. The 2020 parade was a TV-only festival due to the pandemic.
This year’s parade premiered ‘Striker the U.S. Soccer Star’ in celebration of the World Cup
Among the newest balloons hitting the skies will be popular Grogu from the Star Wars franchise. The massive balloon is 41 feet tall, 29 feet long, and 37 feet wide
Scores of Star Wars themed balloon carriers dressed snuggly as the carried the baby Yoda character
Returning to the Thanksgiving Day Parade was the Goku float, seen making its way through Manhattan. This balloon is among the biggest at 56 feet tall, 70 feet long and 36 feet wide
The PAW Patrol balloon could be seen towering above as people stared from their balconies. The balloon is 43 feet tall
The Bluey balloon was another dog taking to the skies during the parade in his very first appearance
Pictured: Cheerleaders from the University of Missouri marching band walk down Central Park South
Late night host Jimmy Fallon (left) posed with Paula Abdul (right) before their performances during the parade
Among the other celebrities at the show were Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin starts, including Adam Devine (center)
Spectators were seen tossing paper snow at a toy soldier actor as they took part of the parade
Pictured: Miss America Emma Broyles (above) participates in the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Also waving at spectators was the iconic Mickey Mouse riding atop the Disney float
Performers in the parade include Paula Abdul, Sean Paul, The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, Jordan Sparks, Sesame Street, Big Time Rush, and Gloria Estefan, who will appear with her daughter and grandson.
Mariah Carey is set to be the grand finale performer as she performs ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ at the Macy’s store in Herald Square.
Michele wasn’t the only Broadway star to hit the streets as other performances included ‘A Beautiful Noise,’ ‘Some Like It Hot,’ and, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’
Stunning spectators with a Jazz-filled performance led by Trombone Shorty (above)
Red Titan from Ryan’s World balloon flies in the sky as spectators in Central Park watch
The Ada Twist, Scientist balloon (pictured) floats past Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan
Crowds have been forming by the parade route all morning along New York City Streets
People stared in awe of the massive balloons and musical performances during the packed event
Pictured: Autumn-themed confetti erupted as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off
Along with giant balloon classics like Ronald McDonald, this year’s parade will premier ‘Striker the U.S. Soccer Star’ in celebration of the World Cup. Some of the balloons are as high as four-story buildings.
Snoopy was among the many mainstays of the parade, appearing in his NASA suit as the longest-running character to appear at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Along with the balloon characters, spectators are also eager to see the iconic Tom Turkey and Santa Clause floats as they mark the start of the holiday season. Riding the Tom Turkey float was comedian Mario Lopez and his family.
Also spotted flying was the Greg Heffley balloon for the Dairy of a Whimpey Kid franchise
Tom Turkey led the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday morning
The parade also features 12 marching bands who will perform down the New York City Streets
Pictured: Kids in flower costumes sing along as they take part in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade
Despite the jolly energy surrounding the parade, many were still upset by the absence of Roker, who has hosted the event for 27 years.
Among those bummed by a parade without Roker included President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who wished for the host’s quick recovery as they called in to the parade show.
The First couple also gave thanks to America’s first responders and troops. They said their holiday plans include a family dinner and walk on Nantucket beach.
Pictured: The Sinclair Oil Dino and Baby Dino balloon flying on Thursday morning
Along with Snoopy, one of the oldest balloon characters include Ronald McDonald (pictured)
The First Couple also called in for holiday wishes, noting they, too, were disappointed that Roker was not hosting
Many took to social media to express their sadness over the absence of beloved host Al Roker
As in years past, the New York Police Department blocked off all vehicle access points to the parade route with sand-filled garbage trucks, and other heavy vehicles.
Police presence has also been ramped up given recent shootings in the nation and threats against New York’s Jewish community.
‘In light of recent events, specifically the shooting in the nightclub in Colorado Springs and the arrest of two individuals for posting threatening statements online to Jewish targets, the counterterrorism bureau will deploy additional resources to ensure that festivities across the city are safe for all,’ Assistant Chief Martine Materasso, who heads the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, said at an Upper West Side press conference.
As in years past, the New York Police Department blocked off all vehicle access points to the parade route
Police presence has also been ramped up given recent shootings in the nation and threats against New York’s Jewish community