Participants in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade must be masked and vaccinated, with a few exceptions, the company said on Wednesday, as the annual tradition plans a return to a version of its old self this November after a muted performance last year.
The announcement is the latest sign that New York is determined to resume some semblance of normalcy even as it grapples with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Macy’s said its 95th celebration would travel a longer route than the one block it was confined to in 2020 and bring in marching bands and other groups that were unable to perform last year. It will allow 80 to 100 handlers for its giant character balloons after reducing the number last year.
The company said that it anticipated thousands of participants again, though fewer than its typical 8,000, and that all volunteer participants and staff must be fully vaccinated. They must also wear face coverings, with some exceptions for performers, and maintain social distancing throughout much of the event.
The pandemic upended traditions including festivals and Santa Claus meetings last year, and the parade became largely a television event as many spectators were told to stay home and the parade route shrank from its usual two-mile stretch. Some balloons even had flights that were pretaped for broadcast. A representative for Macy’s said the company was still determining this year’s route but expected that it would be closer to two miles.
“We applaud Macy’s work to creatively continue this beloved tradition last year,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, “and look forward to welcoming back parade watchers to experience it safely, live and in person this November.”