Macy's 91st annual parade kicks off Thanksgiving in NYC

By Stephen Feller  |  Nov. 23, 2017 at 9:03 AM
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Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Thousands of people lined the streets of New York City Thursday morning for the 91st Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, catching glimpses of cartoon characters and singing and dancing celebrities during the annual tradition.

More than 200,000 people were expected to line the 2.6-mile parade route starting early on the holiday morning as the hosts of NBC's Today Show, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker, broadcast the procession for the rest of the country to wake up to.

The lengthy list of performers included Gwen Stefani, Goo Goo Dolls, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, JoJo Siwa and The Muppets, as well as a host of balloons depicting new and classic characters in between performances celebrating the United States.

Among the balloons seen Thursday morning were the Pillsbury Doughboy, Angry Birds Red, Hello Kitty, Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Greg Heffley, Elf on a Shelf and Charlie Brown.

Police started closing streets Wednesday in the city along the parade route in the second major event in New York since the Oct. 31 truck attack near the World Trade Center. The first, the New York City Marathon, went off with any problems.

As balloons were inflated Wednesday afternoon, the NYPD announced that for the first time this year it would restrict people from bringing large backpacks, coolers, alcoholic beverages, chairs and umbrellas, with officers screening people before they are allowed to enter the parade route.

The NYPD also said it would bring a team of Labrador retreivers who have completed the "Vapor Wake" program, an 18-month training program teaching the dogs to detect traces of explosives in large crowds. Police sharpshooters have been stationed along the route, and sanitation trucks filled with sand have also been positioned in sensitive areas.

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