“Moments of celebration are important,” Leroy Lamar of Atlanta, told The Times. “And it is important that we do them together.”
High school and college marching bands and dance teams from throughout the country made the journey back after last year’s parade primarily featured local acts to avoid cross-country travel amid the pandemic.
But despite the celebratory return, COVID precautions were still in place throughout the event.
All parade staffers and volunteers were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks throughout the event, The Associated Press reported, though some high-profile performers and singers were allowed to ditch the face coverings.
There was no vaccine requirement for parade spectators, but the city of New York encouraged revelers to keep their faces covered in the crowds.
Another popular holiday tradition — the inflating of the massive balloons on the night before the parade — did have a vaccine requirement for viewers.
The parade featured 15 giant balloons as well as 28 floats.
Some of the iconic gargantuan balloons were as high as four-story buildings and as wide as six taxicabs, according to The Times.
In addition to beloved classic characters, some new faces joined the sky-high party.
New balloons joining the lineup include Ada Twist, Scientist from the kids Netflix series; Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee; and Grogu, also known as “Baby Yoda,” from “The Mandalorian.”
Grogu’s appearance in the parade marks the first time a Star Wars themed balloon has joined the event.
Big-name entertainers graced the parade’s floats to perform throughout the event.
Celebrities involved in the parade included Kelly Rowland, Carrie Underwood, Jon Batiste, Miss America Camille Schrier, and the band Foreigner.
Broadway casts and the Radio City Rockettes also performed music and dance numbers.
And a special guest joined the Blue’s Clues float to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary.
Almost 20 years after he departed the hit kid’s show “Blue’s Clues,” original host Steve Burns joined his younger brother, Joe, and the show’s current host, Josh on the float.
Burns hosted the beloved Nickelodeon series from 1996 to 2002 before he left for college.
The show celebrated its 25th anniversary in September.
To many, the parade’s full production marked a symbolic return to normalcy following the pandemic-struck holiday season of 2020.