Macy's has been hosting an annual parade on Thanksgiving Day for the past 85 years and is witnessed by more than 3 million people who line up the city of New York.

Originally initiated in 1924, the parade earlier included live animals like elephants and camels. However, it was only during 1927 that giant helium inflatable and balloons replaced the animals.  

In 1942-1944, during World War II, the parade was suspended due to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort. It was later resumed in 1945 and became a permanent part of the American culture after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street.

This year, a total of 3.5 million people are expected to visit the crowded Manhattan parade route. The parade begins at 77th Street and moves toward Central Park West to the Seventh Avenue and finally toward Sixth Avenue, ending at Macy's Herald Square.

A special feature of the event is the introduction of new balloons and creations. This year, Paul Frank's sock puppet-inspired simian, Julius, will make its debut in the form of a 41-foot-tall balloon on Nov. 24, 2011.

Apart from this, it has also been reported that the parade will feature 40 additional balloon creations, 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders.

The Washington Post reported that organizers say Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne and the Muppets of Sesame Street will participate, some taking the stage at the end of the route in Herald Square and others performing on floats.

Take a look at the preparations for the 85th Annual Thanksgiving Parade below.