NEW YORK (WABC) -- The 97th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City on Thursday morning featuring 31 floats, 25 balloons, and celebrity performances by the likes of Jon Batiste and Cher.
An estimated 3.5 million spectators will line the 2.5 mile parade route to see the procession of floats and bands and those giant balloons.
The parade begins at West 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at Herald Square, home of Macy's flagship store.
The best places to watch are along Central Park West (between West 75th and West 61st Streets) and along Sixth Avenue (between West 59th and West 38th Streets).
Get there early to stage the best spots. The parade starts a half-hour earlier this year at 8:30 a.m.
Anyone planning on going to the parade in person, be advised there will be no spectator viewing along the following sections of the route:
No large backpacks, lawn chairs, umbrellas, large coolers or alcoholic beverages will be allowed. Anyone who sees suspicious activity should alert a police officer or call 911. The NYPD's terrorism hotline is 888-NYC-SAFE.
There continue to be no specific or credible threats to Thursday's parade, although an NYPD threat assessment notes we "continue to face a heightened and dynamic risk environment from a variety of extremists amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, and malicious actors may view mass gatherings, iconic locations, and high-profile events, including parades, as targets of opportunity."
The new class includes Beagle Scout Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide; Blue Cat & Chugs by Cool Cats, a digitally native character; Kung Fu Panda's Po by Universal Pictures' Dreamworks Animation; Leo by Netflix, Inc.; Monkey D. Luffy by Toei Animation Inc.; Pillsbury Doughboy by Pillsbury; and Uncle Dan by Illumination.
Returning giant balloons include "Bluey," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," "Paw Patrol," "Ryan's World," "Pikachu," "Ronald McDonald," "Stuart the Minion" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Each year a new set of floats is conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey.
It takes a big team to take the float concepts and turn them into reality. The design and production facility includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, balloon technicians, sculptors, metal fabricators, and scenic and costume designers.
The four new floats being unveiled this year include Mutant Mayhemby Nickelodeon & Paramount, Palace Of Sweetsby Brach's, Igniting Memoriesby Solo Stove, and The Deliciously Delectable World of Wonka by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Will Coss, Executive Producer of the Parade, took some time to show off the new floats to Eyewitness News Reporter Anthony Johnson.
Organizers of this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have nabbed the Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winner for their 97th annual event. Cher will make her appearance just before the parade's end, signaled by the arrival of Santa's sleigh.
Grammy-winner and Multi-instrumentalist Jon Batiste will kick off the festivities.
Music superstar Cher will make her appearance just before the parade's end, signaled by the arrival of Santa's sleigh, parade organizers said.
The Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winner is preparing to release a 25th-anniversary edition of her Grammy-winning album "Believe" and just dropped her first new album in five years, "Christmas."
There will be appearances by Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Chicago, En Vogue, ENHYPEN, David Foster and Katharine McPhee, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, Jessie James Decker, Ashley Park with some Muppets from "Sesame Street," Pentatonix, Paul Russell, Amanda Shaw and Alex Smith, and Manuel Turizo.
Broadway will be represented by performances from "& Juliet," "Back to the Future: The Musical," "How To Dance In Ohio," "Shucked" and "Spamalot," with an appearance by Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells of "Gutenberg! The Musical!"
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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