Nov 25, 2009 11:37 AM by Jamie Smith
NBC officially kicks off the holiday season with the live broadcast of the 83rd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City, co-hosted by "Today's" Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, along with Al Roker. It will air Thanksgiving day, Thursday the 25th, from 9 a.m. To Noon on News First Channel 5.
Some of today's brightest stars from the world of stage, screen and music will ride atop the Parade's moving stages down the historic Broadway route. This year's special guests include: Bello, Grandma and the cast of the Big Apple Circus, Andrea Bocelli, Boys Like Girls, Alan Cumming, Billy Currington, DJ Lance Rock and the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Gloria Gaynor, Emily Hughes, Kermit the Frog and Tiffany Thornton, Jane Krakowski, Ziggy Marley with Judah Marley, Katherine McPhee, Miss America 2009 Katie Stam, the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, Mitchel Musso, Keke Palmer, The Pizzarelli Quartet, Jay Sean and Carly Simon all ringing in the start of the holiday season with NBC and Macy's.
"The 83rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be the biggest and best ever," said Doug Vaughan, Sr. VP NBC Special Programs and Alternative Development. "There's no better way to kick off the holiday season than with this timeless tradition. And we're extremely proud to once again air this historic event."
Thanksgiving morning will offer viewers plenty of musical star power with a chance to see performances from some of the hottest Broadway shows including: Billy Elliot, Bye Bye Birdie, Hair and Shrek, in addition to the world-famous 'Radio City Rockettes' -forever a holiday favorite.
More than 8,000 participants including America's best marching bands, celebrities, campy clowns, the Parade's signature giant character helium balloons, fantasy floats, and the one-and-only Santa Claus, will once again convene on the Upper West Side to bring the magic of the season to life for New York and the nation.
Taking flight on Thanksgiving morning will be a new cast of pop culture icons who are sure to delight millions of Parade fans. Joining the balloon team this year will be Spider-Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald, and Sailor Mickey Mouse.
The 2009 Macy's Parade will begin at 77th Street and Central Park West, travel down to Columbus Circle where it will continue onto Central Park South. Once the Parade reaches 7th Avenue, it will turn once more and march down 7th Avenue through Times Square to 42nd Street. At the famed intersection, it will proceed east to 6th Avenue and begin its final march down the Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street where it will continue towards Macy's famed flagship store and end at 7th Avenue, marking a 2.65-mile march.
"This is a milestone year for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," said Robin Hall, Executive Producer of Macy's National Events. "Dramatic changes in the mid-town landscape will divert us for the first time from the fabled Broadway route we have followed since our first Parade in 1924. However, our course will remain true and the Parade will continue to entertain millions as Spider-Man returns to the sky and the first new Santa Float in almost half a century makes its debut."
The returning float roster includes 123 Sesame Street, Big Apple, Bridge To The Future, Bountiful Harvest Cornucopia, The Care Bears Winter Fun-derland, Castle of Dreams, Cele-bear-ate Hugs Worldwide, Doodlebug, Jolly Polly Pirate Ship, M&M's Chocolate Candies on Broadway, Marion-Carol Showboat, Musical Innovation Bigger Than Life, Pep Squad, Shine On, The Smurfs, Snoopy's Doghouse, Spirit of Liberty, Tom Turkey, The True Spirit of Thanksgiving, Winter Wonderland in Central Park and Woodland Family Gathering. In addition, the famed Speed Racer Mach 5 will be making a special appearance in the parade line-up this year.
Adding to the pomp and circumstance of the event are talented marching bands from across the nation including Adair County High School from Columbia, Ky.; Frank W. Ballou Senior High School from Washington, D.C.; Choctawhatchee High School from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Franklin Regional High School from Murrysville, Pa.; Harrison High School from Kennesaw, Ga.; Morgantown High School from Morgantown, W.Va.; Pickerington Central High School from Pickerington, Ohio; Pittsburg High School from Pittsburg, Calif.; Towson University from Towson, Md.; and Macy's Great American Marching Band featuring students from all fifty states.