Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: Annual event stars SpongeBob and minor protest

November 23, 2023 –People have packed the streets of New York for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – which also saw protesters glue themselves to the ground.

Balloons depicting SpongeBob SquarePants, Ronald McDonald, and Paw Patrol were seen in the streets – along with bands and cheerleaders.

Big names including superstar Cher are due to perform later in the day.

Pro-Palestinian protesters temporarily disrupted the parade when a group of about 30 people ran into the street.

The group were demonstrating on Sixth Avenue, when some of them jumped the barriers and unveiled a banner reading “genocide then, genocide now”.

This appeared to be an effort to draw an equivalence between the foundation of the United States, and the current Israeli military action in Gaza.

Members of the group glued themselves to the ground, also pouring what seemed to be fake blood on each other and the road. A number of them were taken into custody.

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters stand behind a sign which shows the slogans "genocide then, genocide now" and "free Palestine"
Father Christmas and a group of elves ride on a float through the Thanksgiving Parade

The US celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday in November every year.

The day – originally a way of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year – is supposed to commemorate the first feast shared between British colonists and indigenous people after the Mayflower ship landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

The first Macy’s parade to celebrate the day took place in 1927.

However, some argue the traditional depiction of the holiday erases the experience of indigenous people, glossing over the conflict and suffering which followed the feasting.

Those enjoying the parade included families who had travelled long distances to see the spectacle.

Syndney Abeyta, from Virginia, told CBS News: “It means a lot, because I’ve never see the Macy’s Day Parade and I’m so excited.”

Ahead of the parade, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden spoke to NBC News and urged Americans to “come together”.

The president said: “We have to remind ourselves how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”

A balloon depicting Ronald McDonald floats through the street during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A large group of cheerleaders walk through the street during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
An aerial view of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - including a large balloon character
People look through their windows to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the street

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