A Pandemic Parade, by Rich Paschall
In case you are one of those who sleep in on Thanksgiving, you may be pleased to know there was a Thanksgiving Day Parade of sorts. We can not blame you for staying in bed. It really is a year to pull the covers over it and pretend it did not happen, unless you had a great January 2020. In that case, good for you!
Unwilling to give up on my Thanksgiving tradition, I proceeded to turn on Macy’s greatest self-promotion and watch the television while making a mess in the kitchen at the same time. Fortunately, I can see and hear the television from the adjoining room. When something extra interesting was on, I took my bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee to the sofa with me.
The highly overproduced event was a mixture of live and previously recorded acts. Basically, all the live performers, the floats, and balloons had to do was a march past the front of Macy’s store where NBC cameras captured some of the action.
There were no crowds of millions of people lining the parade route. Using a section of 34th street as if it were a movie set, the “parade” passed in front of Macy’s for a wave at the camera or a lip-sync performance. The Today Show crew sat in a socially distanced perch to provide a pre-scripted commentary on the parade and various NBC promotions.
One thing this parade proves is that we are willing to change and adapt. The event was more of a television variety show than a parade, but what’s wrong with that? They were trying to give us something that resembles the parade and they deserve kudos for trying.
Jimmy Fallon and the Roots performed Dancing in the Streets in light rain as an opening act. It was a good thing it was 61 degrees for the parade. Many of the performances were in sunlight however and Al Roker explained that some things were pre-recorded. A lot of things, actually.
We were treated to a number of musical performances from Broadway shows, all recorded in advance. We may not get to see any theater this year, so it was nice to at least see some performers show off on the streets of New York. There were many entertainers in the so-called parade, half of whom I had never heard of. There is always a crew of young performers meant to keep the under 30 crowds tuned in.
You may recall that just a few years back some were implying that cable, satellite, and streaming services were going to kill broadcast television. This event was some proof of how wrong that was. Verizon, a major sponsor, streamed the show live on their portal plus their YouTube and Twitter links. NBC frequently plugged their streaming service, Peacock TV. Tik Tok, Facebook, and other social media outlets got in on what seemed an incessant parade of commercials.
Dolly Parton was announced as a featured performer all throughout the Broadcast. It turns out she performed from a stage in Tennessee, likely pre-recorded. It would have been too much to expect the 74-year-old to show to perform a Christmas tune in the November weather, even if it was a promotion for a new Christmas album. Patti Labelle’s performance was in front of Macy’s but surely pre-recorded.
There were no high school or college marching bands. No one under 18 was allowed in the parade. Macy’s did come up with a great idea, however. They invited groups who could not appear in other New York City parades this year because they had been canceled.
Stars from many NBC shows gave pre-recorded Thanksgiving greetings, including many from those Chicago based dramas. Olympics stars sent greetings too, giving NBC the opportunity to promote the 2020 summer Olympics on their network. They hope to have them in 2021.
This was the 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It began in 1924. If you are doing the math you know there were more years in between. It was not held for three years during World Ward II because of all the materials needed for the war effort.
This was not exactly another Miracle on 34th Street, but it was the next best thing considering the circumstances. If you want to believe that the acts were singing live and that was really Santa Claus at the end, then go ahead. That’s what they would like you to do, especially this year. Believe.