Thanksgiving 2020 looked very different from past years due to the impacts of COVID-19 which affected important nation-wide traditions and family gatherings along with the amount of Thanksgiving travelers in general. Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists there is new hope for a more typical Thanksgiving and winter holidays this year.
Last Thanksgiving, the pandemic was unpredictable and many Americans stayed home in order to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. This followed Chief Medical Advisor to the President Anthony Fauci’s recommendation as the United States struggled to get the pandemic under control.
Unlike his statement last year, however, Fauci encouraged Americans to enjoy the holidays with friends and family this coming Thanksgiving, especially if all attendees who are eligible are fully vaccinated.
Forbes estimated that this holiday there will be 53.4 million Americans traveling between Wednesday, November 24 through Sunday, November 28 which is only five percent less than the number of travelers in pre-pandemic 2019.
The United States also officially reopened its land and air borders on Monday, November 8 to fully vaccinated people. This allows international travelers from 33 countries, some of which including the 26-nation Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India. The reopened borders allow Americans and family members overseas to reunite and celebrate the coming holidays together, in-person for the first time in almost two years.
The increase of domestic and restricted international travel is a welcoming return to normal plans for a holiday meant to be spent with your friends and family, good food, lots of laughs, and maybe even some good ole’ family drama.
No matter what your family chooses to display on the big screen, it is comforting to hear the announcement that the 95 annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will return to an in-person event this coming Thanksgiving. New Yorkers and tourists will once again be able to line the streets of Manhattan after COVID-19 forced the company to reimagine the event to accommodate for a TV audience only. Whether you typically watch the program or not, no one can argue against the fact that this is a sign for more normalcy in the future.
There will be limited public viewing in designated areas of the route, managed by the New York City Police Department, in order for people to see the parade live and in person for the first time since the start of COVID-19.
Recently Macy’s announced that there will be four new floats this year and six new balloons all of which are meant to advertise for and celebrate a variety of topics and themes throughout society.
One of the new floats is “Birds of a feather, stream together” sponsored by National Broadcasting Company’s streaming platform, Peacock. This float will be the first to stream live during the event itself, thus earning it’s claim to fame. There will be a camera on the head of the peacock shaped float which will then stream to monitors on its tail.
Also present is “The Celebration Gator” sponsored by the Louisiana Office of Tourism. The gator float will be setting the record for the largest float in the history of the parade, measuring in at 60 feet long from the gator’s mouth to tail. This float incorporates elements throughout Louisiana and New Orleans culture such as the gator itself, riverboats, Mardi Gras beads, French Quarter buildings, and even jazz musicians.
Among the line up of balloons this year will be the Pokemon franchise’s most popular characters, Pikachu and Eevee on a Pokeball-inspired sled, in celebration of the company’s 25 anniversary. Also in attendance will be Grogu, better known as “Baby Yoda” from the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.” For reference, these balloons will be about as tall as a three story building and as wide as five to seven taxi cabs.
Overall, as Thanksgiving this year begins to look more and more like past years before the effects of COVID-19, Americans continue to remain hopeful for a consistent return to normalcy. Although the United States and the world hasn’t reached complete normalcy yet, the return of Thanksgiving travel and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is another step in the right direction.