High-flying balloon characters star in the Thanksgiving parade

NEW YORK (AP) – Crowds of spectators lined the streets of New York Thursday as colorful, high-flying balloons helped usher in the holiday season during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The annual tradition, which dates back nearly a century, filled streets as a procession of giant inflatables and floats flowed for more than 40 blocks from Central Park to Herald Square.

Children balanced on top of metal barricades and hung from scaffolding to watch the balloons amid mostly sunny skies and a light breeze.

“Blue, blue. There’s blue,” shouted Divyam Kumar, 6, as his father helped balance him and his 4-year-old brother Aanu Aryan on a metal rail.

The youngster was referring to the star of the animated show “Blue’s Clues” – not to be confused with international cartoon sensation Bluey, an Australian cattle pup making his parade debut.

Bluey’s balloon rose as high as a four-story building and stretched as wide as seven taxis.

Stuart, the one-eyed Minion, was also there to thrill the crowd.

But it was Snoopy that especially captured Brenner Chenenko, 8, even more than the more contemporary pups.

“It’s one of the classics,” said the youngster from Rochester, New York, who stood along the parade route with his father Nate and grandfather John Wopperer.

It was the first time father and son had seen the parade in person. Wopperer last saw a parade live three years ago before the pandemic sidelined the event for a year.

Snoopy, dressed as an astronaut, was followed by another old-time favorite, Papa Smurf.

This year’s parade featured 16 giant balloons, 28 floats, 40 new inflatables, 12 marching bands, 10 performance groups, 700 clowns and a Santa Claus.

The procession of characters was joined by singer Paula Abdul, in her first parade appearance; indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums; boy band Big Time Rush; “Blue’s Clues & You!” host Josh Dela Cruz; singer Gloria Estefan; gospel singer Kirk Franklin; actor Mario Lopez; reggae star Ziggy Marley; and Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles.

Singers Joss Stone, Jordin Sparks and Betty Who were also part of the festivities, as were the stars of Peacock’s “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin” – Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg. Jimmy Fallon & The Roots were on a float to celebrate Central Park.

President Biden and Jill Biden called into the parade, as he did last year. Biden thanked firefighters, police officers and first responders, saying, “They never take a break.”

They thanked the troops and Biden said he would reach out to talk to some today.

Asked about their plans for the day in Nantucket, Mass., the Bidens said it would involve family and some time spent locally, thanking first responders.

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Associated Press reporter Deepti Hajela contributed to this story.

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