How to Watch The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2020

There are a few holiday traditions that people of all ages can count on. One of these is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which debuts early on Thanksgiving morning, broadcast by NBC live from the streets of New York City.

The world’s largest parade, it is known to feature top-tier musical artists, numbers from various Broadway shows, and exclusive clips and surprise guests. For many, it signals the start of the holiday season. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are different this year — and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the events that will be affected.

Fortunately, the parade will still happen, just in a vastly different format. 

When did the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade start?

One of the oldest parades in the United States, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924. It began as a relatively low-key celebration, with Macy’s store employees marching to work wearing colorful costumes.

At the end of the parade, Santa Claus, the beloved holiday figure, was welcomed to the Macy’s balcony, where he waved and greeted onlookers. The parade was such a success, with over 250,000 people looking on, that Macy’s decided to keep it a yearly tradition.

Pikachu (top) and Snow Pikachu fly over 6th Avenue during the 92nd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2018
Pikachu (top) and Snow Pikachu fly over 6th Avenue during the 92nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2018. | DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

Over the years, the parade continued to grow and expand, always adapting to the times. The giant balloons, which are one of the staples of the parade, have caused a few safety concerns over the years, so in recent decades, special precautions have been taken to make sure that the balloons don’t knock over any large structures or cause any bodily harm to participants.

Some of the fan-favorite balloons over the years include Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Felix the Cat, and other lovable cartoon characters. 

The 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that many people celebrate certain holiday traditions and will likely continue to do so for at least the remainder of the year. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of those traditions that will necessarily be changing — although, to many fans, the fact that the parade is still happening at all is cause to rejoice.

In August 2020, Macy’s announced that the format of their parade will be switching to a virtual experience this year. The parade will be broadcast as a television-only event, with social distancing rules in place and 75 percent fewer parade participants.

Additionally, the parade will not feature college and high school marching bands, as in years past. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that “it will not be the same parade we’re used to. They are re-inventing the event for this moment in history.”

How can viewers watch the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?


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The executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Susan Tercero, opened up in a recent announcement, saying that “while it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose — to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation.” For fans who might be wondering how to watch the parade, there are several options.

According to reports, the parade will still be broadcast on NBC, just as it has in years past, beginning at 9 AM ET and running until noon. It will likely be available for streaming as well, so fans who miss the initial broadcast will still be able to catch it later on in the day.

Viewers with a basic cable subscription can watch the parade on or tune into Verizon’s YouTube channel. Verizon’s Twitter page @verizon will streamline all the performances.

Ultimately, this might be a strange year, but it seems as though some traditions are powerful enough to overcome even a global pandemic.