Nothing has been “normal” in 2020, so we wouldn’t have been surprised if Thanksgiving also felt a little “off” this year.
However, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lived up to its cherished turkey-day traditions, and arguably outshined previous years.
For starters, there was no live in-person audience. So, for fans like me who have grown up in front of the TV with envy of all the smiling faces dancing front row as the parade goes by, it was a good year.
Every audience member, no matter where they were watching, had the same view….which is just down right fair, right?
Another bonus, it was the warmest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1933, with a whopping 69º morning that didn’t have us feeling second-hand freeze while watching performances this year.
Second of all, this parade featured a live performance by the cast of Hamilton for the first time at the Macy’s Parade. In a “normal” year, the notoriously exclusive show would never lend their cast to such a public spectacle…that, or they were just too busy with sold out performances to spare time for parade rehearsal and performance. But this year, the cast was present, and they killed it.
It. Was. Awesome.
This was also the first year that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has ever been broadcast in languages other than English, airing with SAP (secondary audio programming) to create a more accessible experience to a larger, more diverse audience.
In all of the past 96 Macy’s Parades, the Big Sky Gallery series has featured balloons from celebrated contemporary artists, but until this year, no female artists had ever been featured.
The debut of Yayoi Kusama’s 34-foot tall stunning sun-shaped “Love Flies Up to the Sky” balloon became the first balloon ever entered into the Big Sky Gallery series by a female artist this 2020 Thanksgiving season.
Kusama, a young 90-years-old, is also the oldest artist to have ever entered a balloon into the series.
The 2020 parade also featured representation from cultures and parades. We got to hear from Indigenous Ambassadors, representing Linape and other Native American nations and tribes, who shared a traditional rattle song as well as a blessing honoring Native American tribes historically based in the Northeast.
There were also performances by the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Core, Brazilian Carnaval dancers, and Puerto Rican Day Parade troupes.
You may have noticed, the parade featured far fewer participants than usual this year. In an effort to prevent virus transmission, the parade diminished participation by 80%, and required mask wearing (with the exception of hosts, musical performers, and good ole’ Kris Kringle).
Even the famous Rockettes wore masks this year, making their outfits and coordinated performance even more uniform than in years past. With toy soldier ensembles made complete by rosy blush on their mask cheeks, their synchronized marching into various festive shapes and organization was a sight to behold.
Perhaps the only let down this year, the Rockettes did not kick.