Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade launches the holiday season again

  • Al Roker, left, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb are hosts of The 96th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday on NBC and Peacock.

    Al Roker, left, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb are hosts of The 96th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday on NBC and Peacock. Courtesy of NBC, 2021

 
By Jay Bobbin
Gracenote
Updated 11/20/2022 7:12 AM

It's time again to talk turkey ... and floats, character balloons and marching bands.

The arrival of the holiday season means the return of one of its top traditions, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will step off for its 96th annual edition Thursday, Nov. 24, on NBC and Peacock (after a related "Countdown" special the night before). "Today" staples Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker will have their usual hosting roles as they cover the colorful procession through Manhattan to Herald Square.

 

A Baby Shark float and a Bluey balloon are among the new attractions this year, while performers will include Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul, Dionne Warwick, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Ziggy Marley, the Muppets, the Rockettes, and Lea Michele with the current Broadway cast of "Funny Girl."

Santa will anchor The 96th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday on NBC and Peacock.
Santa will anchor The 96th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday on NBC and Peacock. - Courtesy of NBC, 2021

The hosts appreciate that the Macy's Parade lets them stay in one place for three hours (actually longer, including pre-broadcast preparations). "With busy lives and kids and jobs, time just goes faster and faster," Guthrie reasons. Adds Kotb, "We're trying to savor and linger. We're trying to slow it down."

That's also in part because the commentators relish the "pure joy" Guthrie credits the parade with being: "We feel like the luckiest people to get to be part of it and have front-row seats and share it with everyone."

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After the 2020 edition was produced for television viewing only, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kotb was glad to see some semblance of the usual onlookers back on the streets of New York last year.

"It felt like a good reboot," she reflects. "That was a lively crowd, and I think we're in for the same thing this time. We're ready."

The Tom Turkey float is a fixture in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Tom Turkey float is a fixture in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. - Courtesy of NBC, 2021

"It's one of those things that you take for granted," Guthrie notes. "We had always expected to be there, so it was doubly special to be there last year and have people there and have the full parade. And this year, it's even more so. We know (what it means) now."

For personal reasons, Kotb knows what it means to see the person who always closes the Macy's Parade, Santa Claus himself. "I imagine my kids watching him at home on TV," she maintains. "That's what I see when I see him go by. They're just looking for a (finger-)point or a nudge, something to show that he's looking their way."

Per Guthrie, Santa isn't the only one pointing. "What you don't see on TV," she reveals, "is that in between what we do on the air, we're poking each other and saying, 'Look who's there!' We see it before the cameras do. We love to stand up and wave at the bands during their performances. Sometimes, they wave back."

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