After a scaled-back, pandemic-conscious event last year, the iconic NYC event returns to celebrate its 95th anniversary.

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Manhattan will be filled with balloons floating down Sixth Avenue on Thanksgiving once again. After the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was scaled back last year due to the pandemic, the longtime American tradition will return to its old self on Nov. 25, including traveling down the two-and-a-half-mile route from the Upper East Side to Herald Square.

To celebrate its 95th year, the parade will feature 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, and 36 novelty and heritage inflatables. Several new floating characters will take to the sky, including Ada Twist from Netflix's Ada Twist, Scientist and Grogu — better known as Baby Yoda — from the Star Wars series The Mandalorian. There will also be new versions of McDonald's Ronald McDonald and Pokémon's Pikachu and Eevee. They'll join returning favorites like Astronaut Snoopy, The Boss Baby, Paw Patrol's Chase, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Papa Smurf, Sonic the Hedgehog, and SpongeBob SquarePants and his pal, Gary.

The inflatable characters will be accompanied on land by more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands, and nine performance groups, as well as famous faces spanning music to television. Many will highlight the travel industry, with singer Jon Batiste on the Louisiana Office of Tourism float, Nelly on the Kalahari Resorts and Conventions one, Jordan Fisher on the Disney Cruise Line display.

The casts of Broadway's "Six," "Moulin Rouge," and "Wicked" will perform, as will the Radio City Rockettes. There will also be a featured performance previewing NBC's upcoming "Annie Live!"

Behind the scenes at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Credit: Mariah Tyler

Also joining them will be all the Blue's Clues hosts over the years (Steve Burns, Donovan Patton, and Josh Dela Cruz), the Girls5eva cast (Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps), 2020's Miss America Camille Schrier, K-pop group Aespa, Sesame Street casts and members, and the star of the show — Santa Claus — on a float from Universal Orlando Resort. Other celebrity appearances include Jimmie Allen, Darren Criss, Foreigner, Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Kim Petras, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood, Tai Verdes, Zoe Wees, and Tauren Wells.

"For more than nine decades, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has served to bring joy to millions, who gather with friends and family to experience this one-of-a-kind holiday celebration along the streets of New York City and in homes nationwide," Will Coss, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade's executive producer, said in a statement today. "For our 95th celebration, Macy's has created a spectacle to remember featuring a dazzling array of high-flying balloons, animated floats, and incredible performers. We can't wait to help New York City and the nation kick off the holiday season with the return of this cherished tradition."

On Thanksgiving Day, the parade will start at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 a.m. and work its way down to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South before heading down Sixth Avenue to 34th Street. It will then turn onto Seventh Avenue and end at Macy's Herald Square.

Viewing areas will be set up along the parade route in conjunction with the city and state of New York to ensure that pandemic safety practices meet CDC guidelines. You can find full details on the parade site.

Also returning will be the Macy's Balloon Inflation Celebration, which will open to the public on Wednesday, Nov. 24, from noon to 6 p.m., with safety precautions in place. Guests 12 years and older who can show verified proof of their COVID-19 vaccination along with a photo ID will be able to enter the viewing area at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue. Masks will be required and physical distancing will be encouraged. (Negative COVID-19 tests will not be accepted in lieu of vaccinations.)

Meanwhile, viewers at home can watch the festivities from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC and Peacock hosted by Today's Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker, as well as on Telemundo hosted by Ana Jurka and Carlos Adyan.