Is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Returning With Crowds?

It was unknown if, or to what extent, viewing locations would have capacity limits.

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Claim

In September 2021, organizers of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City announced they would allow in-person spectators.

Origin

In September 2021, numerous news reports alleged Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was preparing for a full in-person return — with massive balloons, floats, and performers — following a curtailed version of the event in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be a lot more like its old self in 2021,” CNN tweeted.

Before we address the underlying claim, some context: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, organizers restricted the annual event to one block in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store, set up barricades to prevent people from watching, and pre-taped many of the performances, as reported by The Associated Press and news photographers.

However, the alleged announcement for Nov. 25, 2021 — that organizers were planning for a full parade with spectators — was authentic. 

In a Sept. 8, 2021, news release by Macy’s, Inc., officials stated:

Today, Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE: M) and the City of New York announced the return of the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, set to march down the streets of New York City for its 95th annual holiday celebration. […]

“We are thrilled to welcome back in its full form the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a world-renowned celebration that ushers in the magic of being in New York City during the holiday season,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Additionally, the release outlined COVID-19 guidelines — such as a vaccine requirement for staff and volunteers — and said organizers were coordinating with city officials who will manage where, and how, crowds will gather.

It was not yet known where, exactly, those viewing locations would be — nor whether such sites would have capacity restrictions. We reached out to spokespeople for Macy’s Inc., as well as the city’s communication team, and we will update this report accordingly if, or when, we receive answers.

The announcement continued with these requirements for parade workers:

  • All participants and staff regardless of vaccination status will wear face coverings and additional protective equipment, as warranted by their role. As appropriate, exceptions may include singers, dancers and musicians performing down the route or for the national broadcast.
  • Macy’s will implement a reduction in the overall number of participants of between 10 to 20 percent (approximately 800 to 1,600 participants).
  • Social distancing practices will be in place at all interior/exterior Parade operations including costuming areas, seating and participant check-in.

In sum, considering the official statement from Macy’s, we rate this claim “True.”

Sources:

“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to March on despite Pandemic.” AP NEWS, 20 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-pandemic-815fbc2457e68d25c99c3a5df23171b1.