NYC sees ideal weather as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ushers in peak pageantry

 7 a.m. is the witching hour for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And as hundreds of participants raced to find their places as the sun rose Thursday morning, gray-haired float builder John Cheney stood relaxed in the center of the maelstrom.

After all, his work was done, and it was far from the first time he’d joined the parade. He first started building floats in 1976. Thursday marked parade number 47.

“We used to do the setup and take them down all within 24 hours,” he said. “So now we're doing it in two days. So we've got more energy this morning, which is good.”

Now in its 97th year, the annual helium-fueled pomp-and-circumstance is more than ever a celebration global in reach but quintessentially New York City in scene and scale.

Over the next hour, thousands of participants — many of them from across the country — readied to join the procession, which runs from the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side to Herald Square.

Several million people typically prepare to brave the cold to watch the parade in person. But this year Mother Nature provided near perfect conditions: Early morning temperatures hovered around the mid-40s, and the clouds were making way for a clear blue sky.

Even more critical to the fate of the giant balloons — Snoopy, Pillsbury Doughboy, Willy Wonka and Kung Fu Panda, to name a few — the winds were calm.

The annual parade ushers in peak pageantry.

The start of this year’s parade was moved up a half hour earlier to 8:30 a.m., a shift that didn’t appear to make a difference to the hundreds who arrived before sunrise to nab the best viewing spots along Central Park West.

Even before the parade began, there was plenty for spectators to see. In front of the Museum of Natural History, a group of cheerleaders, their hair adorned with neon yellow bows, wrapped themselves in silver foil wrappers for warmth as they waited.

Not far away, the marching band from Alabama A&M looked stalwart in their maroon and white uniforms. After a 16-hour bus ride, the troupe was set to make their first appearance in the parade, playing holiday songs mixed with “a little hip hop and R&B,” said John Lennard, a graduate assistant with the marching band.

“It's kind of a medley of our culture down in Huntsville, Alabama,” he said.

Also stationed along the parade route were thousands of NYPD officers, reflecting the reality of increased threats and anxieties. On Wednesday, a car explosion that killed two men near the U.S.-Canadian border prompted the closure of multiple bridges and an investigation. Officials later said there was no evidence the blast was related to terrorism.

Mayor Eric Adams said he did not see “any nexus” between the explosion and New York City and that the NYPD had not changed its plans as a result. The city has been on high alert since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

War demonstrators did interrupt the parade at one point. On the route along Sixth Avenue and 49th Street, roughly 30 pro-Palestinian protesters managed to jump the barricades and unfurl a sign that read, “Liberation for Palestine and planet.” The NYPD said several protesters were taken into custody, and the demonstration did not affect the parade route.

John Iannazzo, a retired NYPD officer who lives in the Bronx, remembers well the job of working the parade. He covered 20 of them, staying up through the night to assist with the setup. “Now watching with my family, I get to enjoy it with the people I’m most thankful for,” he said.

Iannazzo and his family arrived on Central Park West at 6:15 a.m. “We wanted the best spot,” he said.

For early risers and the rest who straggled in, the year-in-the-making extravagance did not disappoint: 25 balloons, 26 floats, 700 clowns, about a dozen marching bands, and thousands of cheerleaders and dancers.

The marquee performers this year included Cher, jazz pianist Jon Batiste, a capella group Pentatonix and R&B singer Brandy.

Reginald Guervi, from Queens, stood grinning ear to ear as he waited in his red and white uniform as one of many banner carriers. He was marching in his first parade as a Bloomingdale’s employee.

“As a kid, my mom used to live in the city. So I used to camp out just to catch a glimpse of the stars and celebrities,” he said. “And now I'm in it.”

Mayor Eric Adams is being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 1993 as part of a lawsuit filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

The three-page summons was filed in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday night, two days before the law expires. The Adult Survivors Act was passed by the state Legislature in 2022, and has for the last year allowed accusers to sue their alleged abusers in civil court and seek monetary damages, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Gothamist is withholding the name of the mayor’s accuser, but the summons states she was sexually assaulted by Adams, a former NYPD officer, when they both worked for the city of New York.

Adams was a transit police officer at the time of the alleged assault. The court filing also names the transit bureau of the NYPD, the Guardian Association of the NYPD, a fraternal organization of Black law enforcement officers, and three other unknown entities as defendants.

Along with sexual assault, the suit also accuses Adams, the NYPD, and the other co-defendants of battery, employment discrimination, retaliation, and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

The woman is seeking at least $5 million, according to the summons.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Megan Goddard did not respond to a request for comment.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Adams strongly denied the charges.

“It absolutely did not happen,” he said. “I don't recall ever meeting this person. And I would never harm anyone in that magnitude.”

Adams’ spokesperson Charles Lutvak issued a statement earlier in the day. “The mayor does not know who this person is,” he said. “If they ever met, he doesn’t recall it.”

The accusation comes at a difficult moment for the mayor, who is under heavy scrutiny. His campaign is facing a federal investigation that recently resulted in FBI agents seizing his electronic devices and raiding the home of a key fundraiser.

Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing. The probe is reportedly related to illegal donations from Turkish officials as well a Brooklyn construction company that threw a fundraiser for Adams.

More than 2,500 people have been sued under the Adult Survivors Act. They include several high profile figures like former President Donald Trump, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Bill Cosby, and actor Russell Brand.

Brooklyn state Senator Kevin Parker is also facing a civil lawsuit from a woman accusing him of raping her in her apartment in 2004.

Parker has denied the allegations.

 Protesters temporarily interrupted the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as it marched through New York City. 

The iconic balloons and marching bands had to veer around the demonstrators, who laid down in the street, but it did not stop the 97-year event from going on.

It's not yet clear what the protest was about or if anyone was arrested. 

CBS New York's Jenna DeAngelis spent Thursday morning along the parade route, where the sights and sounds lit up the faces of all ages lined up to take in the near-century-year-old tradition.

She spoke with a family from Virginia, who said the parade lived up to its hype.

"It means a lot, because I've never see the Macy's day parade and I'm so excited," Syndney Abeyta told DeAngelis.

"Definitely in person versus watching it on TV. I grew up in California always watching it on TV, so being here is definitely a first-time experience," Nacho Abeyta said.

"This is the best experience. We're excited," said Shermila McKinney of Mississippi, adding when asked if the parade lived up to the hype, "One hundred percent, yes!"

There's nothing quite like a front-row seat to see the six balloonists, 31 floats, 18 performers, 29 clown crews, 11 marching bands, and more. Seven new featured balloons debuted this year, including Kung Fu Panda's Po and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

"It's special to be here, I love coming to the city," said Brianna Laucella, of Wantagh.

Twins Donald and Ephram have their birthday coming up in two days. Donald has stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. The parade is how he wanted to celebrate turning 8. The NYPD made it happen, giving him special access.

"To be able to celebrate my kids and have him with us another year just means everything and that's what were grateful for," mother and Staten Island resident Nickell Morgan said.

Ahead of the parade, the NYPD shared its safety measures, including new technology.     

"Security begins the day after last year ends," Commissioner Edward Caban said.

"We can send our drone truck to the location, get a bird's-eye view of exactly what's going on," Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said.

"We're able to monitor the balloons, keep an eye on people, and make sure everyone is safe," Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey added.   

Police said they plan for the parade all year, aiming for a safe and happy Thanksgiving for all. 

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