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.

2019 Macy’s Parade – Santa’s sleigh and reindeer by Beyond My Ken is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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.

Categories: Christmas, Entertainment, Rich Paschall, TV Review

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26 replies

  1. Honestly, it wasn’t a whole lot different than any other year for us. I always put it on, but usually I am also going other stuff — cooking et al. It has been over-produced with FAR FAR too many commercial for years and I stopped paying much attention to it years ago. They spent more time admiring the announcers than showing the parade. Now, there’s not much parade to show, so the self-admiring staff can stay home and … eat?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wasn’t watching as closely as Marilyn. The parade has never been “must watch TV” for me but it’s always been a staple in the background of Thanksgiving mornings as swell smells drifted out of the kitchen in years past.

      Yesterday, in a sense, was no different. The MACY’S Parade was on TV with the NBC announcers doing their circus barker routines. Not sure if Edmund Gwynn was there. There were MARVELOUS smells coming out of the kitchen – including freshly baked bread – Chef Owen was just getting started on what would be a triumphant day for him (THANK YOU, OWEN!!).

      I didn’t notice much about the parade. Lots of yakking, LOTS of promos for NBC shows, and young people dancing and singing songs I didn’t recognize. There were many cameos by NBC stars – again promoting their shows which I mentally checked off – yes or no. Mostly NO.

      I did watch Patti Labelle’s performance. Someone I recognized and whose musical choice I enjoyed.

      I didn’t see any Santas – Gwynn or Attenborough or the local ‘Iggys”, sobered up just for their annual Santa parade gig.

      It was fine background entertainment with the kitchen smells becoming more and more intoxicating.

      The Parade segued into the National “Best In Show” dog gala which IS must see TV here.
      Marilyn watched closely, doing her own intrepid play by play and color commentary over the dogs, handlers and owners. Something like me with baseball.

      The Macys Parade and Dog Show – even in COVID – gave us what we needed on this very different Thanksgiving.

      The day – as a whole — delightful with a superb dinner prepared by Chef Owen.

      No family squabbles reported at this address.


      Liked by 1 person

    • It was a real television production. They wouldn’t want to give up all those holiday commercials.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, it wasn’t a whole lot different than any other year for us. I always put it on, but usually I am also doing other stuff — cooking et al. It has been over-produced with FAR FAR too many commercial for years and I stopped paying much attention to it years ago. They spent more time admiring the announcers than showing the parade. Now, there’s not much parade to show, so the self-admiring staff can stay home and … eat?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And is what has allowed us to persist as a human race – we are willing to change and adapt.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Watch “Miracle on 34th Street” and forget all this overblown stuff on TV.., I did.., still got a tear in my eye. I DID, however, get a shot of reality when I realized Thanksgiving is mostly for white folk.., there wasn’t an Indian (Native American) who, according to history, are out at about $24 bucks, the value of the beads with which the dutch acquired Manhattan. …AND, there wasn’t an African American in sight, not even mopping a floor, or cooking in a restaurant, or at home for their family. Ask me why I love this movie.., and I can’t answer? Maybe it offers a suggestion of some kind of hope, or possibility? All I can say is I watch it every year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There was little if any diversity in those old movies. Some are just cringe-worthy now. That it was thing the parade to to do. It was a much more diverse lineup this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rich, ‘cringe worthy’ is often used for overly sentimental movies we frequently list as ‘guilty pleasures’.

        I think, some of us know, these oldies are just fantasy and to be enjoyed on face value.

        As you know, I’m a big fan of some of these films. They have always been my r/x to check out of reality for a little while.

        “Sound of Music” is a prime example for me. Some critics have called it ‘sappy’, ‘cringe worthy’ and super saccharine with a dose of treacly. I love everything about it from the opening scene to the final fadeout. There’s a song “I must’ve Done Something Good” which, yes, is sugar sweet but I like it.
        Julie Andrews told the story about how she and Christopher Plummer couldn’t keep straight faces because the lyrics were so sappy. So, the scene was shot in shadows so you couldn’t see them smirking instead of making goo-goo eyes.

        The Hills are alive!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I understand that R.H. Macy actually played himself in the movie? Never the less, it’s an all time favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ben, somehow we didn’t watch “Miracle On 34th Street” (I still prefer the ’47 version).

      First time in many years we didn’t watch. The day was “busy enough” and quite enjoyable.

      As for the movie, it IS entertaining, feel good, and has a happy ending. That’s all good by me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have two 1947 versions. They are the same but one was colorized in 1985. Is there another version I’m not aware of, with different actors?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, there were 4 remakes of the film. One cinema remake and three telvision. The other movie starred Richard Attenborough as Kris.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s why I don’t remember them. Wait.., I do recall seeing one of them, on TV, and being appalled, asking the classic question, WHY? Why did they think it was necessary to remake something that, save for a few modern flaws, was just about perfect for the period in which it was done. WHY?

            Liked by 2 people

            • Exactly. I never saw the two 1950’s versions. I don’t know if they are available. The Santas were Thomas Mitchell and Ed Wynn, so that may have been entertaining. The 1973 film had Sebastian Cabot as Kris Kringle. David Hartmann was the lawyer. He went on to be the long running host of Good Morning America. Macy’s would not give permission for their name to be used in the 1994 version, so that should tell you something.

              Liked by 1 person

              • That was two 1947 versions, and now it slowly comes back to me. Sebastian Cabot, in a more recent version. He was one of the handful of “big guys”, in Hollywood.., “grandfather like” support actors. But then, except for “Miracle” and maybe a couple of others, so was Edmund Gwenn, he was also the support pick for old, slightly portly, quirky, but wise, guys.

                Liked by 2 people

      • I like the original movie the best. There have been several attampts to redo it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It was well done, but too many commercials interrupting. I wish they would follow the European way of showing commercials before and after the shows. Maybe American advertisers figure most people would just tune out for commercials.

    Liked by 1 person

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