With new faces and old favorites in the lineup, the extravaganza began wending through 2 miles of Manhattan on a chilly morning amid tight security.
This year's parade featured 17 giant character balloons; 28 legacy balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands and 6 performance groups.
Four giant characters made their balloon debut including Disney Frozen's Olaf, Illumination presents Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, PAW Patrol and Jett from Super Wings.
Five new floats also made their debut, and there was a special float commemorating the season of togetherness, featuring 125 Macy's employees forming a one-of-a-kind cross generation choir.
PHOTOS FROM THE PARADE
"The crowds are still the same, but there's a lot more police here. That's the age we live in," Paul Seyforth said as he attended the parade he'd watched since the 1950s.
"Not a lot's changed - the balloons, the bands, the floats - and that's the good thing," said Seyforth, 76, who'd flown in from Denver to spend his 50th wedding anniversary in New York and see this year's parade.
The televised parade was proceeding smoothly, though about midway through, a gust of wind on a largely calm day blew a candy-cane balloon into a tree branch, and it popped near the start of the route on Manhattan's Upper West Side. No one was injured.
The line-up of celebrities included 98 Degrees, Sabrina Carpenter, the Goo Goo Dolls, Olivia Holt, the Muppets of Sesame Street, social media star JoJo Siwa and many others.
And of course, Santa Claus was there too!
Timothy McMillian joined his wife, their 9-year-old daughter and his in-laws at 6:30 a.m. to stake out a spot. The relatives had come from Greensboro, North Carolina, to see in person the balloons, marching bands, performers from Broadway hits and elaborate floats they'd watched on TV for years.
McMillian, a 45-year-old schoolteacher, booked a hotel months ago, but he started to have some concerns about security when a truck attack on a bike path near the World Trade Center killed eight people on Halloween.
"With the event being out in the open like this, we were concerned," he said. "But we knew security would be ramped up today, and we have full confidence in the NYPD."
The parade began at 77th Street and Central Park West, and traveled down to Columbus Circle where it turned onto Central Park South. After reaching 6th Avenue it turned south and marched down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street, where it made its final turn towards Macy's Herald Square and ended at 7th Avenue.
There was extra security around the city for the parade and many street closures:
-Broadway between West 34th Street and West 40th Street- Midnight to 1 p.m.
-6th Avenue between West 23rd Street and West 42nd Street - 2 a.m. to 1 p.m.
-7th Avenue from West 34th Street and West 42nd Street - 2 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-34th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 10 p.m. (Wed) to 5 p.m.
-59th Street E/B between 7th Avenue and Central Park West - Midnight to 2 p.m.
-59th Street W/B between 5th Avenue and Central Park West - 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-35th Street between 5th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 2 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-36th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-37th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-38th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-8th Avenue between 34th Street and 40th Street - 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-Broadway between 38th Street and 59th Street - 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-33rd Street between 7th Avenue and 10th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-40th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-49th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-50th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-Central Park 65th Street/66th Street Transverse Roads 7 a.m. until conclusion
Please note: From 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. vehicles will not be able to access:
-6th Avenue between West 33rd and West 59th Street
-8th Avenue between West 57th Street and West 59th Street
-8th Avenue between West 33rd and West 40th Streets
-Broadway between 59th Street and 57th Street
-Broadway between West 34th and West 40th Streets (only escorted deliveries)
-42nd Street between 5th and 8th Avenue
-57th Street between 5th and 8th Avenue
More information available at www.macys.com/social/parade
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)