Macy’s Parade will Feel Different This Year

For generations, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a lynchpin and the unofficial beginning of the holiday season for millions upon millions of American families.

Over the years, there have been changes, things have been added, and others have been lost, but the two main attractions – huge balloons and magnificent floats decorated with seasonal themes – have remained.

Since most places, including New York City, went into COVID-19 lockdown, many wondered what would happen to the signature event that opens the holiday season for so many by culminating in a visit from Santa Claus. As it turns out, the show will go on, but it will look a lot different this year.

Fans will still be able to see the giant balloons, colorful floats, spectacular performances, and Santa Claus, but all of that festive holiday fun will only be presented on television.

Live viewers will not be encouraged for this year’s parade. And that’s not all that will be different in this year’s “reimagined” parade. There will be much fewer participants in a parade that will be traveling a different route. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the parade has been “Re-invented for this moment in history…”

Part of that “re-invention” is an age limitation on parade participants. Everyone marching in the parade this year must be at least 18 years old, a legal adult.

High school bands that were selected to march this year have been “deferred” until 2021. Instead of up to 100 handlers for each massive balloon, those duties will be managed by “special” machines.

Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the leader who was given the monumental task of figuring out how to pull off this classic holiday tradition during the COVID-19 pandemic said any idea of skipping the parade wasn’t on her radar: “(We) felt it was important to continue this cherished holiday tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families… While it will certainly look different, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation…”

Tercero’s statement offers a strong, positive, and compelling message highlighting the parade’s importance, underscoring why the show must go on, and skirting any extraneous mention or focus on the pandemic. From a PR perspective, it’s a solid message that is clear, concise, and well-delivered. Everyone knows why the parade is different – no need to dwell on the negative.

The most important message to communicate is that this national event matters, and it matters enough to find a way to make it happen and make it as good as it can be. “It won’t be quite the same,” the message says, “but it will still be worth watching…”

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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