Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and balloons dazzles spectators.

Spectators lined the streets of Manhattan on Thursday (November 24) for the 96th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a televised extravaganza of marching bands, floats and performances by stars including Jordin Sparks, Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey, who sang her Christmas classic "All I want for Christmas."

Altogether, 16 giant inflatables, 28 floats, 12 marching bands, 700 clowns, and Santa Claus, plus many musical stars, entertained spectators who filled several city blocks for a glimpse of their favorite floats and performers.

The giant helium balloons depicting cartoon characters and toys are typically the main attraction, with this year's pageant adding newcomers such as Stuart the Minion from the animated comedy, 'Minions - The Rise of Gru'. Also making a comeback this year, Grogu, otherwise known as Baby Yoda from the Star Wars spinoff series, The Mandalorian, and the ever-popular Peanuts character, Snoopy, the longest-running giant balloon character at the parade.

Other American cities stage parades, but New York's event has become an archetype of the holiday tradition, which is televised across the country to some 50 million viewers as they prepare their Thanksgiving meals.

The official Thanksgiving holiday dates to the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a day to give thanks and seek healing.

U.S. schoolchildren learn to trace the holiday to Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and celebrated the autumn harvest with the Wampanoag peoples. Among Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of dark reflection on the genocide that followed.

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