This is what the Thanksgiving parade in Pandemic New York looked like

Every year, it’s Thanksgiving Day: millions of spectators clustered in long city blocks, hung over barricades and balconies, or pushed to the windows of towering office buildings to watch huge balloons depicting cartoon characters like Pikachu just a few feet away.

But this year, as in 2020, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which was a ritual marker of the holiday, was drastically different.

Due to the threat of the coronavirus, much of the Manhattan parade was reduced and prepared for television broadcasting. The route was reduced from two miles to a single block on 34th Street, near the flagship store.

There were no high school bands. Instead of the usual 2,000 balloon handlers, it was only about 130.

Warnings from officials to stay home due to the epidemic have kept millions inside this year and police barricades have been introduced to ensure no one gets too close.

Still, some spectators were curious and definitely showed up.

On 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, 52-cave Karin Schlosser stood behind one of the barricades, photographing the floats and balloons. The balloons this year feature the characters Boss Baby and Red Titan from “Ryan’s World”.

“I felt like it was a great adventure to come here and see what I could see – and I actually saw a lot more than I expected.” York City for a month while working from home. – It’s so wonderful.

“I think people still need some normal feeling,” he added. “Everyone I’ve talked to is very aware of the epidemic.” They want to be safe. They wear a mask but still want to connect with other people.

Dozens gathered in the same corner shortly after 9 a.m. and took photos with their cell phones. A woman and a woman snapping a selfie, floating on the background of Christmas. The photo was missing the usual thousands of crowds.

Across the street, a building remained boarded from the day the owners became uneasy after the election results. Police barricades kept the population at least two blocks from the stop. The streets beyond the parade route remained largely empty.

Henry Danner of Bronx recalled that as a child he went to the parade with his family and watched his cousins ​​perform in marching bands. This year, Mr. Danner, 34, a freelance photographer and journalism student at Columbia University, said he was most interested in witnessing and documenting what it was like to be involved in an epidemic at the time of an epidemic.

“The Thanksgiving parade is one of the most important elements in New York history,” Mr. Danner said. “I came to see what kind of story I could capture. I knew New York was going to be New York and it was still coming out.

But there was a lot more to the annual event, he said. “The energy is very gloomy. Usually serene.

Kaitlin Lawrence (31) and Zeev Kirsh (40) tried to enter the event with little ease when they decided to take part in the parade in turkey costumes. Ms. Lawrence combined two of her favorite holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. She dressed as a turkey.

“We’re tough people in New York and we want to keep the spell alive,” Ms. Lawrence said.

The couple said they first met before the epidemic and then collided with each other again while cheering for Langone Health hospital workers in New York. Their love blossomed during the quarantine, they said.

Actress Ms. Lawrence recently became a drama teacher after her acting position disappeared months ago. “Doing such little things really took us longer,” he said.

At the corner of 36th Street and Sixth Avenue, a crowd gathered and cheered as the operator prepared to lift the Boss Baby balloon off the ground. One conductor counted to three and then led the operators down the block using a hand whistle. A woman who made a FaceTime call pointed the phone at the balloons.

Carolina Capitanio, 37, traveled from Miami to New York with her husband and two little girls for the holidays. Ms. Capitanio said she wanted her children to “see something, but it’s not easy”. Her daughters looked through a row of metal barricades and tried to see the balloons on the street.

Others had similar difficulties.

“I saw half of a balloon,” said Jovan Williams, 43. “If I stayed home, I would have seen more of the parade. I couldn’t even tell you it had started.

In a normal year, operators walk to the beat of marching bands and the sound of a roaring crowd.

“That energy was missing,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Parade.

But Ms Tercero said she still hopes viewers will enjoy this year’s production.

“This parade means a lot to a lot of people and people in New York,” Ms. Tercero said. “In a difficult year, it feels good to be able to provide a little happiness at Thanksgiving.”