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This year’s parade will feature performers such as Mariah Carey and Paula Abdul and will feature 27 giant balloons and 31 floats.

This year marks the 96th anniversary of the parade. Press Association

NEW YORK – The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns for its 96th time on Thursday and is expected to attract an estimated 3 million spectators who line the streets of Manhattan in hopes of seeing huge balloons, marching bands, stars and, of course, Santa Claus.

Typically, around 6,500 people gather to work on the parade, which will take a 2.5-mile route through New York City, starting on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and ending in Herald Square. Unlike last year, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will not require parade participants to be vaccinated; instead, contractors must take a COVID-19 test 24 hours prior to arrival.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s holidays.

Who will broadcast the event?

The parade, which will begin at 9 a.m., is broadcast on NBC, Telemundo and the Peacock streaming service.

Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker from “Today” will lead the parade, which will end at noon. But it’s unclear if Roker, who was recently hospitalized with a blood clot according to his Instagram, will attend.

Who will be at the parade?

The parade will feature Paula Abdul, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Gloria Estefan, who will appear with her daughter and grandson. To conclude, Mariah Carey will sing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” just before the end of the parade at Macy’s in Herald Square.

The Hispánico School of Dance Ballet will return and many marching bands will perform, including the Bourbon County High School Marching Colonels and the Benedict College Marching Tiger Band of Distinction.

There will also be 27 giant balloons – a dozen more than last year – as well as seven balloons and 31 floats. Some of the balloons will be as tall as four-story buildings or as wide as six taxicabs. Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda, will return for his second year, accompanied by his hovercraft.

What’s new?

On the occasion of this year’s World Cup, “Striker the US Soccer Star” will debut. As tall as a two-story building and as wide as two taxicabs, the balloons consist of a soccer player performing a quick kick with a bicycle.

Bluey, the pup from the hit Australian series, and Stuart the Minion will also make their first appearances, hovering high above the crowd. The fan favorite will return, but with a new addition. Greg Heffley, the hero of the popular series “Diary of a Wimpy Man”, which appears for the 13th time, crouches next to a piece of moldy cheese.

Where is the parade?

The festivities will begin on West 77th Street and Central Park West, but there will be limited or no public viewing.

Many fans arrive on the tour several hours early to get seats with an unobstructed view of the performers. The best places to watch the parade are Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Streets and Sixth Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets.

A detailed map of the route can be found on the website macys.com/social/parade/where-to-watch/.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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