The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade snaked its way through Manhattan under sunny skies Thursday morning in the annual spectacle that draws huge crowds to watch the giant Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and myriad other character balloons float above the Big Apple. Millions lined the parade route or watched from home as the parade made its way through the city’s densest borough, from Central Park, along 6th Avenue, through Times Square and onward.

Even though security was heightened for the massive event in the aftermath of the deadly Paris terror attacks Nov. 13, New York City officials said they expected the turnout to reach 3.5 million along the 2-mile route and urged residents to continue with their holiday plans.    

Paradegoers -- and watchers of the NBC telecast -- were treated to pop-culture mainstays Mickey Mouse and Snoopy balloons, of course, as well as 10 new balloons and floats, including an Angry Birds character and the squirrel from the hit movie "Ice Age," plus performances by celebrities, musical groups and Broadway-show casts. 

 The event has changed quite a bit over the 89 years since it began. Originally a Christmas celebration with live animals and floats, the parade grew during the Roaring '20s and has continued on an ascendant path to its special place as a beloved American tradition. Fun fact: The giant balloons used to be let loose at the end -- the finders of which were offered Macy’s gift certificates.

The modern-day event comes with the added benefit of Twitter, so photos and commentary abound. Check out pictures from the event below.