Oohing and ahhing spectators of all ages lined the route of the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which counted Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger among its six new giant balloons.
It was around 37 degrees with a hint of drizzle and light winds as clowns shot a burst of confetti from canisters to get the show rolling.
About six protesters chanting “Justice for Mike Brown!” were handcuffed Thursday after they tried to march toward the parade route, the New York Post reported. The New York Police Department told The Associated Press there were some arrests near the parade but didn’t immediately provide details.
“We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade,” police Commissioner William Bratton said earlier Thursday. “This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day.”
Protests in New York have remained peaceful since a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed the unarmed Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Earlier, clown Steve Smith passed dozens of workers trapped under netting holding the big floats down.
“How long’s your sentence behind bars?” he joked.
Smith, a clown for 12 years, loves to make children happy.
“The kids, they are the ones who make the parade,” he said.
“This is great. It’s nice to feel so festive for the holidays,” said spectator Daryl Winchester, 17, of Queens, as she took pictures, waved and shouted encouragement to parade participants.
Like bedazzled rock fans who land coveted stage-front spots, she and her cousins were lucky enough to score the front row of a 20-person-deep crowd.
“Family makes things better,” said his cousin Maria Winchester, also a 17-year-old from Queens.
The honor of leading the parade went to the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band from Western Carolina University. Asked where that’s located, drummer Will Walker said with a chuckle: “It’s a dot on the map you will never hear from the rest of your life.”
The musicians from Cullowhee, North Carolina, hoped to set two records Thursday: one for most cymbal players (55) and one for largest band (505 members).
“It still hasn’t hit me that I’m in the Macy’s parade,” said cymbal player Alyric Rich.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.
Back in 1924, the event was known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade.
The giant balloons arrived on the scene in 1927. Felix the Cat was the first character balloon.
In 1929, helium balloons were released over New York City after the parade. They were equipped with return address labels, and those who found one received a special gift.