The 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will go on this year and yes, Al Roker will be co-hosting.
The iconic TODAY Show weatherman recently revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it was uncertain whether he’d take part in the festivities. But Hoda Kotb today confirmed he’ll likely be there alongside her and Savannah Guthrie.
“I have some pretty good news. I just learned today Al will likely be doing the parade with us. Raise the roof! Al Roker is back. We’re very hopeful that Al will be in his typical rare form on parade day. You all know, Thanksgiving ain’t Thanksgiving without Al Roker,” Kotb told reporters.
“We’re so happy. He’s going through a difficult time and as I said to him it’s never you go this, it’s we got this. I remember distinctly when I was going through breast cancer, in my hospital room he walked in the door. He was the first person to walk in and I thought to myself, ‘of course he’s here.’ That’s what Roker does. So we are there for Al who will be at the parade. That was the best news I heard today.”
While the American tradition will continue this year in spite of the pandemic, like everything else, expect a few changes this year.
“It’s going to be a live parade. We are doing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You have to have it on while you’re making your gravy,” Kotb laughed.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is planned 18 months in advance, so when the pandemic hit, organizers jumped into action.
“We really focus on trying to deliver a gift to New Yorkers and to the whole country on Thanksgiving morning and that’s what we’re doing again this year,” said Susan Tercero, Executive Producer of Macy’s Parade said. She explained a few big changes.
No marching bands from across the country this year. It will all be local.
“We did a few things that were really mindful of the safety of not only of our participants, but of New Yorkers. So what we decided to do was we took all the marching bands are normally going to be coming from all different parts of the country and we said we’re going to defer that participation until 2021. That meant that we’re looking to New Yorkers and some canceled parades throughout New York that happen normally through the year and we’re going to have those performances. So we can still celebrate New York, but do it within our own community. We knew bringing people in from the outside of the tri-state area was not something we really wanted to do.”
No kids involved this year.
“We also looked at participants under the age of 18. We wanted to keep our children safe and didn’t want to bring them in as well.”
“We took a look at our large balloons, which typically have anywhere from 90-100 handlers underneath them. We said let’s do something different. Let’s try to configure this in such a way we’re bringing those balloons down the street safely and use small utilized vehicles in order to bring them safely down the street, but greatly reduce the amount of people underneath.”
No live spectators.
“We also looked at the overall participation numbers and reduced all of those by 75 percent. Then we took a look at the parade and how it gets broadcast. The main focus for us was to ensure we could deliver a very safe broadcast for everybody at home. We decided to do that by eliminating the live parade that New Yorkers normally get to experience. All of New York City is not going to be able to participate in the live moment because we can’t have 3 million viewers standing in close quarters along the parade route watching this event. But they can do it safely from their home. So that was really our focus. Some of that is going to involve through the magic of television really piecing this together and still delivering what everybody expects to see live on Thanksgiving.”
While you won’t see masses of large cheering crowds this year, expect to see plenty of talent. There will be theatrical and musical performances schedules, which some were pre- tapped.
– Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations
– Jagged Little Pill
– Mean Girls
– Radio City Rockettes
– All-female samba drumline Fogo Azul NYC along with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Mermaid Queen Lynn Nottage and Dick Zigun representing the Coney Island USA Mermaid Parade
– Danza Fiesta representing the National Puerto Rican Day Parade
– The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Band representing the NYC Pride March
– The Sugarplum Fairy from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker representing the New York City Ballet
– The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums representing the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade
– A special performance entitled CaribeFuturism featuring a collective of acts including partners Pan in Motion, Batingua Arts, Sesame Flyers, and Kaisokah Moko Jumbies with Carnival Queen Kay Mason representing the West Indian American Day Carnival Association
– The Big Apple Circus
– The NYPD Police Band
– The West Point Marching Band
– Zeta Phi Beta
Stars and Musical Performances
– Lauren Alaina
– Jimmie Allen and Noah Cyrus
– Ally Brooke
– Jimmy Fallon and The Roots
– Karol G
– Tori Kelly
– Patti LaBelle
– Ella Mai
– Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier
– The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street
– Leslie Odom Jr.
– Keke Palmer
– Jordin Sparks
– Sebastián Yatra
– Brett Young
– Santa Claus
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air live on NBC on Thursday, November 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST.