This year will be the first year the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade doesn't head down Broadway for its Herald Square finale outside Macy's. Instead, the procession of balloons, floats and performers will head down Seventh and Sixth Avenues, partially due to the new pedestrian plazas in Times Square and partially because 7th and 6th Avenues are wider (in 2005, some parade watchers were struck by M&M balloons!).
The parade's new route involves more turns, which means the balloon handlers need to be on their toes. The owner of a California event company that specializes in giant balloons, Charles Trimble, told City Room, "Getting all those people around a corner can be interesting. They’ll work a little harder; the crowd loves that. They love to see you doing something with the balloon." And Macy's parade director Robin Hall had this to say about business on Broadway complaining about the parade not being on Broadway anymore, "For everyone that loses a view of the parade, there is someone who picks up a view of the parade."
The parade begins at 9 a.m.—onlookers generally start lining the streets hours before—and ends around noon. Macy's says the best viewing is along Central Park West between 61st and 72nd Streets (perhaps because the park is along one side, not buildings). And besides the balloons—which you can see being inflated today—performers include DJ Lance Rock and the Yo Gabba Gabba! cast, Alan Cumming, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, Gloria Gaynor, Kermit the Frog, Ziggy Marley and Judah Marley, the Big Apple Circus, the cast of Sesame Street, and Cyndi Lauper.