Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and balloon inflation: Everything you need to know

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Millions of people descended upon Manhattan for New York City's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.

Here's what you need to know from street closures to security to who's performing.

Central Park West will be closed from West 73rd Street to West 85th Street through noon Thursday, as will the 79th Street Transverse.

This year's characters include Astronaut Snoopy, with the world's most beloved beagle getting his 8th makeover for 2019 -- and this one is out of this world!

Discover where to find each character in the inflation area here.

Other balloons:
Green Eggs and Ham (new)
Love Flies Up To The Sky (new)
Smokey Bear (new)
Spongebob Squarepants & Gary (new)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Goku
Harold the Fireman
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

RELATED: New balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

As usual, thousands of police officers will be on duty for the parade.

"There is no specific, credible threat to public safety at this time," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Wednesday as he outlined a security plan that includes heavily armed officers, explosive detection dogs, radiation detectors and drone interdiction.

Millions of spectators who line the route can "rest assured" they will be safe, Chief of Department Terrance Monahan said.

WATCH: NYPD's Thanksgiving Day Parade security briefing

The parade steps off from Central Park West and 77th Street at 9 a.m., with the procession marching to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and proceeding down Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street. It then turns west and ends at West 34th Street and 7th Avenue, at Macy's Herald Square.

With high winds expected in the AccuWeather forecast, there was concern that the balloons could be grounded or kept lower than usual.

But at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, the NYPD announced that "as of now" the balloons were cleared to fly. The parade stepped off at 9 a.m., balloons aloft.

More than 3.5 million people attend the parade each year, according to NYC Tourist, and more than 8,000 people participate. The best advice is to get there early. Arrive no later than 6:30 a.m. to get the best viewing spots available, and don't bring a lawn chair.

The official viewing area is located on 34th Street and is also the most crowded area. Another insider tip is skip the official viewing area and line up on Central Park West.

RELATED: New floats at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

In addition to the famous balloons, this year's parade performers including Billy Porter, Celine Dion, Idina Menzel, K-pop group NCT 127, Lea Michele and many more. We hear Santa Claus will be making a special appearance, too!
The first ever Macy's Parade was actually held on Christmas Day in 1924, attended by roughly 250,000. It featured clowns, cowboys, floats and animals from the Central Park Zoo. The giant balloons didn't come along until 1927, when Felix the Cat joined the event.

If you are trying to get around Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day, your best bet is probably mass transit. The following streets will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day Parade, according to NYC Department of Transportation:

Formation:
Columbus Avenue between 72nd Street and 83rd Street
Central Park West between 81st Street and 86th Street
81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
76th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
73rd Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West
71st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
68th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
62nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue

Route:
Central Park West between 81st Street and East Side of Columbus Circle/59th Street
Columbus Circle between 59th Street and Broadway
Broadway between 59th Street and 58th Street
59th Street between Columbus Circle and 6th Avenue
6th Avenue between 59th Street and 34th Street
34th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue

Dispersal:

33rd Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue
34th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
34th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
35th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue
36th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
37th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
38th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
40th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
7th Avenue between 33rd Street and 40th Street
Broadway between 45th Street and 34th Street
Miscellaneous (Formation and Dispersal):
40th Street between 7th Avenue and 6th Avenue
39th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
38th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
37th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
36th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
6th Avenue between 34th Street and 33rd Street
8th Avenue between 40th Street and 33rd Street

Click here to download a printable map from New York City DOT.

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