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Parade Primer

From the best vantage points to the lineup of balloons, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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The Timing
The parade draws a crowd of more than 3.5 million people every year, so if you’re hoping to snag a prime viewing spot, plan to claim it no later than 6:30 a.m. (the parade kicks off at 9 a.m.). The south side of 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue is highly sought-after territory every year, but there are plenty of better options. The long stretch of Sixth Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street provides ample viewing room; you’ll want to avoid any spot between 34th and 38th Streets, as the view is limited by broadcasting equipment.

The best bet is to situate yourself on Central Park West between Columbus Circle and 77th Street, where the parade kicks off. (Though if you show up after 8 a.m., you'll need to go a little further south on CPW for a decent view.) But the nearer you are to the start of the parade, the less time you’ll have to stand, since the parade’s duration can be anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on your position. Keep in mind that folding chairs aren’t permitted anywhere along the route, and if you’re set on 34th Street, note that there’s no access for the general public as bleachers are reserved for Macy’s employees only.

The Balloons
The lineup for the 89th annual parade features Hello Kitty, Thomas the Tank Engine, Pikachu, SpongeBob SquarePants, Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, and many more. This year’s parade will also feature the debut of some new balloons, including the Angry Birds, Ice Age’s Scrat, and Ronald McDonald. Also new this year are balloon heads of characters from The Wizard of Oz. For a less-crowded look at the balloons, see them at the Wednesday-night inflation: The day before Thanksgiving, from 3 to 10 p.m., head to 79th Street and Columbus Avenue to get a sneak peek.

The Entertainment
This year’s parade will feature performances by Mariah Carey, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Shawn Mendes, Cirque du Soleil, Trey Songz, Jordin Sparks, Daughtry, Broadway’s School of Rock, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Additionally, the casts of The Muppets and Sesame Street will be joined by Questlove, and the usual assortment of 1,100 cheerleaders, 12 marching bands, and 1,000 clowns will also be on hand.


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