NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be a television-only event this year due to COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
Still, Macy's promises a reimagined version of the iconic holiday event for the 94th annual parade.
"It will not be the same parade we are used to, it will be a different kind of event," de Blasio said. "They are reinventing the event for this moment in history."
The mayor assured viewers will "be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day," and even though there will be no live parade, he promised "something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving day."
"New York City is always proud to join Macy's to ring in the holiday season with New Yorkers and viewers around the world," de Blasio said. "We've worked closely with the Macy's team on a safe and creative plan this year, and we look forward to keeping this tradition going on Thanksgiving Day."
Macy's then announced details of the celebration, which for the first time in its history will be modified to safely bring the magic to more than 50 million viewers nationwide while maintaining all of the spectacle and wonder of the cherished holiday tradition.
The celebration will shift to a television only special presentation, showcasing the Macy's Parade's signature mix of giant character helium balloons, floats, street performers, clowns, and heralding the arrival of the holiday season with the one-and-only Santa Claus.
"Macy's believes in celebration and the joy of marking milestone moments with family and friends," said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "The Macy's Parade is our love letter and gift to the City of New York and the nation. Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, 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."
For nearly 100 years, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been synonymous with the official start of the holiday season in the United States. Growing from a two block-long collection of Macy's colleagues dressed in clown outfits, playing instruments and adorning floats in 1924, to the world-famous spectacle we know today, at the core of the Macy's Parade has been the warm memories that fill the hearts and minds of generations of American families.
To safely produce this icon of American culture during this unprecedented time, Macy's partnered with the xity of New York to create a safe plan that would keep the tradition alive. Following the success of this summer's reimagined Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show, the Macy's team meticulously reviewed every area of the Thanksgiving Day playbook to put in place enhanced health and safety practices that align with CDC guidelines, as well as local and state government protocols.
The safety of participants and spectators is Macy's number one priority and this year's 94th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration will be produced solely as a television event allowing millions of New Yorkers and the nation to safely experience it from the comforts of home.
"While it will certainly look different in execution, this year's Macy's Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose," Tercero said. "To bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation."
A number of changes will be implemented in order to execute this event safely, including but not limited to:
--Reducing the overall number of participants by approximately 75%, and splitting the remaining participants over two days
--All participants will be appropriately socially distanced during performances and be required to wear face coverings and additional personal protective equipment depending on their role
--Shifting to a television-broadcast-only production with staging for parade elements focused solely in and around the Herald Square area of Midtown Manhattan
--The traditional 2.5-mile parade route will not be utilized this year
--No participant in the parade will be under 18 years of age
--Previously selected regional high school and college marching bands performances will be deferred to the 2021 Macy's Parade, with locally based professional marching and musical ensembles taking musical duties in the lineup
--Macy's traditional Giant Balloon Inflation public event on Wednesday will not take place
--Macy's signature giant character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80-100 handlers and instead employ an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD
WATCH: Eyewitness to a Pandemic
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
abc7NY Phase Tracker: