The 75th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City has made several changes to its spectacular extravaganza to honor those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"In light of recent events, this is an especially significant year for the parade because of the powerful and positive message it will send to the world," Robin Hall, producer and director of the parade, told Reuters.
Starting with the opening of the parade, a giant float carrying the Statue of Liberty will replace the usual Tom Turkey float. As well, a group of children of the New York firefighters and policemen will march at the head of the lineup to honor the 350 rescue workers who died at the World Trade Center.
Also, midway through the parade, a float carrying uniformed New York City police and firefighters holding banners featuring American flags and silhouettes of the twin towers will make its way down the street.
Have no fear, the traditional giant balloons and Santa Claus floats will still be there, and there will be some additions, including a huge Curious George and a new 63-foot rendition of Sesame Street's Big Bird.
Bill Bracken, the telecast's supervising producer, told The Associated Press, "This is not like covering something at an arena. And we can't say, 'Stop! Back it up!' Once it starts, that parade keeps coming no matter what."
Millions of spectators are expected to line the 2.5-mile parade route, even as the city prepares for the parade with heightened security measures. However, Macy's department store never thought to cancel this Thanksgiving tradition.
"Everyone's life has changed," said John Piper, a balloon designer and constructor.
"We had to take that into consideration and work toward the healing of this city and this nation, knowing that the dust would settle and right about the time the dust would finally settle would be Thanksgiving."