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Giant balloons inflated ahead of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC

ABC 7 New York logo ABC 7 New York 11/25/2021 Eyewitness News
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After an unsatisfying virtual pandemic parade last year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to the streets of New York City Thursday for its 95th march -- and while police expect a big crowd after last year's absence, there is no specific, credible or active threat, according to an NYPD assessment obtained by ABC News.

The parade features 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 36 inflatables, more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands, 9 performance groups and a host of celebrities, including Jon Batiste, Kristin Chenoweth, Foreigner, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood and Santa Claus.

The balloons were blown up Wednesday ahead of their Thanksgiving Day flights, with the annual inflation event from noon until 6 p.m. -- for vaccinated guests only.

The public entrance point can only be accessed at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue.

RELATED | Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Street closures, balloon inflation, performers and more

In addition, 36 novelty and heritage inflatables are also being pumped up.

The new class of balloons includes Ada Twist, Scientist by Netflix; a Funko Pop! inspired Grogu (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) from the Star Wars series "The Mandalorian;" Ronald McDonald by McDonald's USA; and Pikachu & Eevee by The Pokémon International Company.

For access, guests must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination (Original CDC card, Mobile app including the NYC COVID Safe App, NY State Excelsior Pass, CLEAR Health Pass, or photo of their vaccination card), plus matching photo ID.

A negative test will not be accepted in lieu of vaccinated status.

Children under the age of 12 who are unvaccinated may be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

Masks are required throughout.

Featured Balloons on 77th Street

- Tiptoe (NEW)

- Ada Twist, Scientist (NEW)

- Gravy Pirates (NEW)

- Red Titan

- Chase from PAW Patrol

- Diary of A Wimpy Kid

- The Boss Baby

- Toni the Bandleader Bear (NEW)

- Sinclair's Baby DINOs Balloonicles

- Sinclair's DINO

- Smokey Bear

- Goku

Featured Balloons on 81st Street

- Go Bowling Ballonicles

- Funko Pop! inspired Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) (NEW)

- Astronaut Snoopy

- Ronald McDonald

- SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary

- Sonic the Hedgehog

- Papa Smurf from The Smurfs

- Pillsbury Doughboy

- Pikachu & Eevee (NEW)

The NYPD expects 3.5 million spectators to line the route.

"While already one of New York City's largest events of the year, the parade is expected to attract a greater audience, as last year the COVID-19 pandemic prevented any in-person spectators," according to threat assessment. "No current threat reporting indicates any active, credible, or specific plot to carry out attacks at the 2021 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, however, the NYPD Intelligence Bureau assesses that mass gatherings, iconic locations, and high-profile events, including parades, remain attractive targets for foreign terrorist organizations.

RELATED | Thanksgiving travel: What to know ahead of the holiday

The document mentioned the Waukesha Christmas parade and said it demonstrated "the criticality of deploying blocker cars, heavy block, bollards, or other vehicle ramming countermeasures."

Since the 20th anniversary of 9/11, ISIS and al-Qaeda have encouraged lone offender attacks. Some of the propaganda included images of iconic New York City locations, the document said.

"While the Intelligence Bureau does not assess these propaganda releases constitute specific or credible threats, they may nevertheless resonate with homegrown violent extremists throughout the holiday season and could mobilize some to violence, necessitating elevated vigilance," the document said.

The parade steps off at 9 a.m. Thursday and includes 8,000 marchers.

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