US: High-flying balloon characters star in Thanksgiving parade

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NEW YORK (AP) — Throngs of spectators lined the streets of New York on Thursday as colorful, high-flying balloons helped usher in the holiday season during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Boss Baby balloon makes its way down Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) © Provided by The Associated Press The Boss Baby balloon makes its way down Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

The annual tradition, which dates back nearly a century, packed streets as a procession of giant inflatables and floats streamed for more than 40 blocks from Central Park to Herald Square.

Spectators watch from the start point of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson) © Provided by The Associated Press Spectators watch from the start point of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Children balanced atop metal barricades and hung from scaffolding to watch the balloons amid mostly sunny skies and a slight breeze.

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“Blue, Blue. There's Blue,” yelled Divyam Kumar, 6, as his father helped balance him and his 4-year-old brother Aanu Aryan on a metal rail.

The youngster was referring to the star of the animated show “Blue's Clues" — not to be confused with the international cartoon sensation Bluey, an Australian cattle pup making her parade debut.

The Ada Twist, Scientist balloon floats past Radio City Music Hall during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) © Provided by The Associated Press The Ada Twist, Scientist balloon floats past Radio City Music Hall during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

Bluey's balloon towered as tall as a four-story building and stretched as wide as seven taxi cabs.

A child watches helium balloons as they're inflated for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki) © Provided by The Associated Press A child watches helium balloons as they're inflated for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Stuart, the one-eyed Minion, was also there to thrill the crowd.

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But it was Snoopy that especially caught the eye of Brenner Chenenko, 8, even more so than the more contemporary pups.

“It's one of the classics,” said the youngster from Rochester, New York, who lined the parade route with his father Nate and grandfather John Wopperer.

It was the first time the father and son had seen the parade in person. Wopperer last saw a parade live three years ago, before the pandemic sidelined the event for a year.

Snoopy, dressed as an astronaut, was followed by another old-time favorite, Papa Smurf.

This year's parade featured 16 giant balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, 12 marching bands, 10 performance groups, 700 clowns and one Santa Claus.

Cheerleaders from the University of Missouri marching band walk down Central Park South during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) © Provided by The Associated Press Cheerleaders from the University of Missouri marching band walk down Central Park South during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

The procession of characters were joined by singer Paula Abdul, in her first parade appearance; indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums; boy band Big Time Rush; “Blue’s Clues & You!” host Josh Dela Cruz; singer Gloria Estefan; gospel singer Kirk Franklin; actor Mario Lopez; reggae star Ziggy Marley; and Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles.

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A man takes a photo of an inflated helium balloon of Stuart the Minion on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York, as the balloon is readied for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki) © Provided by The Associated Press A man takes a photo of an inflated helium balloon of Stuart the Minion on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York, as the balloon is readied for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Singers Joss Stone, Jordin Sparks and Betty Who were also part of the festivities, as were the stars of Peacock’s “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin” — Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg. Jimmy Fallon & The Roots were on a float celebrating Central Park.

A woman looks at an inflated helium balloon of Ronald McDonald on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York, as the balloon is readied for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki) © Provided by The Associated Press A woman looks at an inflated helium balloon of Ronald McDonald on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in New York, as the balloon is readied for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

President Biden and Jill Biden called into the parade, as he did last year. Biden thanked firefighters, police officers and first responders, saying, “They never take a break.”

They thanked the troops and Biden said he would be reaching out to speak to some today.

Asked about their plans for the day in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the Bidens said it would involve family, and some time spent locally, thanking first responders.

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Associated Press reporter Deepti Hajela contributed to this story.

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