Macy’s Thanksgiving parade gets underway in NYC as Al Roker returns to host and 25 balloons float down Manhattan to delight over 3 million people on the streets – with superstar Cher set to ring in the holiday season
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New York City burst into life on Thursday morning as the 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade returned to the streets of Manhattan. 

Over three dozen floats, 25 giant balloons and 18 star performers – including Jon Baptiste and Cher – are set to take center stage as the vibrant parade moves through the city. 

Kicking off at 8:30 ET, the moment has seen the return of longtime host Al Roker after he suffered several health scares in the past year, as he will present the event alongside NBC Today stars Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb

NYPD officers are out in force as this year’s parade comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Big Apple, with officials stepping up extra ‘robust’ security along the route compared to years past. 

New York City burst into life as the 97th edition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade took over the streets of Manhattan on Thursday morning

New York City burst into life as the 97th edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade took over the streets of Manhattan on Thursday morning 

The Big Apple rang in Turkey Day in style as a colorful procession moved past Central Park to start the day's festivities

The Big Apple rang in Turkey Day in style as a colorful procession moved past Central Park to start the day’s festivities 

The iconic Tom Turkey float was led down the parade route by an ensemble of Thanksgiving dancers as the event got off to a sunny and light-hearted opening

The iconic Tom Turkey float was led down the parade route by an ensemble of Thanksgiving dancers as the event got off to a sunny and light-hearted opening 

This year's event has seen the return of beloved host Al Roker, who celebrated the family event alongside Jimmy Fallon on Thursday morning

This year’s event has seen the return of beloved host Al Roker, who celebrated the family event alongside Jimmy Fallon on Thursday morning 

Eager attendees lined the streets from as early as 5am to catch the best spot to watch the procession.

The parade route is also set to be marked with a heightened police presence, following several protests erupting in recent weeks over the crisis in the Middle East and a terror scare at the US-Canada border in New York on Wednesday afternoon.  

NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban acknowledged the security increase as he spoke to NBC before the parade got started. 

‘We’re working with our federal, state and local partners to ensure everything is safe,’ Caban said. 

‘Right now there are no specific or credible threats to New York City or the parade in general, but the New York City Police Department has been on high alert since October 7.’ 

‘We encourage all families to come out and enjoy the day,’ he added, noting that this year’s event is his first as the city’s police commissioner. 

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said there is a heightened police presence at this year's event amid tensions in the Big Apple, but insisted there are 'no credible threats' to the event

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said there is a heightened police presence at this year’s event amid tensions in the Big Apple, but insisted there are ‘no credible threats’ to the event

Preparations began on Wednesday evening as towering balloons were set up along the parade route, seen on New York City's Upper West Side

Preparations began on Wednesday evening as towering balloons were set up along the parade route, seen on New York City’s Upper West Side 

Twenty five balloons will loom over the Big Apple, including Baby Yoda, Minions, Ronald McDonald, Red Titan, Kung Fu Panda, Snoopy, Pillsbury Doughboy, Leo, and Uncle Dan

Twenty five balloons will loom over the Big Apple, including Baby Yoda, Minions, Ronald McDonald, Red Titan, Kung Fu Panda, Snoopy, Pillsbury Doughboy, Leo, and Uncle Dan

Eighteen performers are also preparing to take center stage, with music icon Cher accompanied by acts including En Vogue, ENHYPHEN, Jessie James Decker, Chicago and Pentatonix

Eighteen performers are also preparing to take center stage, with music icon Cher accompanied by acts including En Vogue, ENHYPHEN, Jessie James Decker, Chicago and Pentatonix

Before the parade got underway, the Macy's Santa Claus appeared on the trading floor to at the New York Stock Exchange

Before the parade got underway, the Macy’s Santa Claus appeared on the trading floor to at the New York Stock Exchange

Workers are seen inflating a huge Goku balloon near Central Park as the city prepared for the parade on Wednesday evening

Workers are seen inflating a huge Goku balloon near Central Park as the city prepared for the parade on Wednesday evening 

When preparations began on Wednesday evening, towering balloons were seen being inflated at the start of the parade route on the city’s Upper West Side. 

Baby Yoda, Minions, Ronald McDonald, Red Titan, Kung Fu Panda, Snoopy, Pillsbury Doughboy, Leo, and Uncle Dan are among the iconic balloons set to be sent down the parade. 

The packed parade will enjoy eighteen performers throughout the event, with Cher set to headline as she will ring in Christmas on Santa’s sleigh to conclude the procession.  

NBC presenter Al Roker is also a welcome sight at this year’s festivities after suffering several health scares in recent times. 

Roker has co-hosted the parade every year since 1995, but was forced to miss the parade last November as he was hospitalized for blood clots and internal bleeding. 

He will present a star-studded line-up including En Vogue, ENHYPHEN, Jessie James Decker, Chicago and Pentatonix. 

Ensembles from several Broadway shows including ‘Shucked’ and ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ will also perform.  

After missing last year's event due to illness for the first time since 1995, co-host Al Roker was a welcome site as he returned to the parade

After missing last year’s event due to illness for the first time since 1995, co-host Al Roker was a welcome site as he returned to the parade 

The early start to the day saw clear skies and sunny weather as upwards of three million people are expected to take to the streets throughout the parade

The early start to the day saw clear skies and sunny weather as upwards of three million people are expected to take to the streets throughout the parade 

The early start to the day saw sunny skies as the streets were quickly packed with attendees, however this year’s event has not been without controversy.

Over 17,000 people signed a petition criticizing the parade’s organizers for branding the event a ‘non-binary and transgender extravaganza’, which includes two gender non-conforming performers in the line-up.  



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