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1 million watch Macy's Parade

Nov. 24, 2011 at 2:37 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Major cities across the United States kicked off the holiday season -- and the holiday shopping season -- Thursday with Thanksgiving Day parades.

More than 1 million New Yorkers and visitors turned out to watch the Macy's Parade. Eleven marching bands provided the music for 1,600 cheerleaders, singers and dancers, 27 floats and the traditional giant balloons, the cable news channel NY1 reported.

The parade, starting at 9 a.m., moved along a 2-mile route from 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.

Singers Neil Diamond, Mary J. Blige and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery were among the special attractions.

While the New York parade, with an estimated 50 million people watching on television, was the big attraction, Detroit and Chicago also held their own.

In Detroit, the likeness of former NBA great Earvin "Magic" Johnson was added to the collection of Big Head papier mache heads this year, portrayed wearing the Spartans uniform from his days at Michigan State. Other famous Detroiters who have been featured as Big Heads include Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger and the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

In Chicago, acts from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus enlivened the parade on State Street.

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