The 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off at 9 a.m. on Thursday (November 28th), featuring the iconic giant helium character balloons -- weather permitting -- floats, marching bands, dancers, clowns, celebrities, Broadway show performances, the Radio City Rockettes, and much more before ending with the traditional arrival of Santa Claus to usher in the holiday season. The nationally-televised parade will wind its way on a route through the streets of Manhattan before ending at Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.
There is a question about whether the parade's signature giant balloons will be able to fly this year because of weather conditions. City rules say that if there are sustained winds over 23 miles per hour and gusts over 34 mph, the balloons can't be used. The current forecast is close, calling for sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts of 36 mph. Macy's says the determination will be made on Thanksgiving morning based on real-time weather conditions. The balloons were grounded only once in the parade's history, in 1971, because of bad weather.
BALLOONS: If the giant helium balloons do get off the ground, there will be 15 of them this year, including four new additions:
- Adventure Time with Finn and Jake -- Featuring Finn and Jake from the hit Cartoon Network series.
- Toothless -- The midnight-black, green-eyed dragon star of the How to Train Your Dragon movies and TV series is positioned with his giant wings folded in a landing pose, as it about to land among the parade-goers.
- SpongeBob SquarePants -- SpongeBob returns to the parade in a new incarnation, wearing a Santa hat and a big smile for his trip down the parade route.
- Snoopy and Woodstock -- This is the 37th time Snoopy's been in the parade and his 7th balloon look, this time flying high with his buddy Woodstock.
There will also be a special giant hot air balloon celebrating the 75th anniversary of the The Wizard of Oz, featuring images of the characters from the classic film and carrying the wizard himself. Accompanying it will be Dorothy and balloonhead characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch of the West.
To celebrate the first time in the parade's history that Thanksgiving falls on the first night of Hanukkah, there'll also be a special spinning dreidel balloonicle.
FLOATS: There are five new floats among the 30 in the line-up:
- Despicably Delicious -- Universal Studio's float features the Minions from Despicable Me 2 whipping up some goodies in a bake shop that features larger-than-life cupcakes.
- Dreamseeker -- This float from Cirque du Soleil is in the form of a flying ship, and comes with trampolines and Chinese poles that allow the troupe's acrobats and characters to put on a parade performance.
- The Enchanting World of Lindt Chocolate -- A giant master chocolatier oversees the pouring and casting of Lindt bear and other chocolate figures for the holidays in a spectacular chocolate shop. Live puppets and giant spoons get in on the act.
- A Sea of Surprises -- This float celebrates SeaWorld's 50 years, featuring an ocean scene of rolling waves and sea creatures, with the image of Shamu the killer whale at the center of it all.
- A World at Sea -- Cruise line Royal Caribbean's float features 3-D postcards in a revolving panorama the show scenes of all the fun to be had on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
CELEBRITIES: Among the celebrities who'll be appearing are: singers Kristin Chenoweth; Gavin DeGraw; Brett Eldredge; Fall Out Boy; The Roots, joined by Jimmy Fallon; Florida Georgia Line; Goo Goo Dolls; Ariana Grande; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts; Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings; Austin Mahone; Kellie Pickler; and Mannheim Steamroller; The Robertson family from Duck Dynasty; TV personalities Sandra Lee and Richard Simmons; Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri; NFL legends Joe Namath, Bart Oates, Amani Toomer and Hines Ward, and NHL legends Cam Neely and Mike Richter.
PEFORMANCES: The first hour of the broadcast will include performances from the Broadway musicals Matilda and Motown, and a special appearance by Carrie Underwood and other cast members from NBC's upcoming, The Sound of Music Live!