On Thursday, millions of people will tune in via live streams, television or in person to Macy's 2012 Thanksgiving Day Parade for its 86th annual celebration. Thousands will flood the streets of New York City to see the parade with its marching bands, performers, celebrities, giant helium balloons and ornate floats.
The 86th annual parade is a yearly extravaganza of floats taking place in New York City. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. EST and continue until it reaches the end of its route at Macy's in Herald Square around 12 p.m. EST.
This year, the parade will begin at 77th Street and Central Park West. It will continue down its 40-block route along 6th Avenue before ending at Macy's in Herald Square. A map is available at Macy's special parade landing page. The best places to view the parade in person among 3.5 million other people is between 59th and 75th Streets along 6th Avenue, and viewers should arrive by at least 6 a.m. EST.
The parade will be televised beginning at 9 a.m. EST on CBS, as well as on the parade's official broadcaster, NBC. In addition to the TV broadcast set to be viewed by more than 50 million people, Macy's launched an official "Macy's Parade" app on the iTunes store for viewers to get updates and facts about the parade.
A live stream to watch the parade online is available on NBC with eight different views of the parade including the ParadeCam, the StreetCam, the North View, the South View, the Crossroads, the Bird's Eye View and the CrowdCam.
The lineup this year has balloons, floats, balloonicles, clowns, marching bands and performance groups. Balloons include a new updated Hello Kitty, Kermit the Frog, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Spongebob Squarepants, Julius, Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda, Ronald McDonald, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Pikachu, Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse and Sonic the Hedgehog.
"A great thing about the parade balloons is that they are the most recognizable characters in the world. Betty Boop or Felix the Cat — we might not all have been around when they were really popular, but we understand the pop culture significance of them," parade spokesman, Orlando Veras, said in a statement.
Snoopy, who has been in 36 parades throughout the years, will not be present in the 2012 parade.
There will also be more than 20 floats including the Big Apple, Gift of Freedom and 1-2-3 Sesame Street. Performers will have the Spirit of American Dance, the NYPD Marching Band and the Mannheim Steamroller.
Macy's will release the official list of celebrity performances and appearances on Wednesday ahead of the parade. Last year included Mary J. Blige, Avril Lavigne, Cee Lo Green, Neil Diamond, and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery.
The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1924, but wasn't officially named until 1927. In 1924, a group of Macy's employees organized the first parade with floats pulled by horses. The first helium balloons were introduced in 1927 with Felix the Cat and the Toy Soldier.