NEW YORK — The balloons were sprinkled along a parade led by a bright orange Tom Turkey float that gleamed in the sunlight. Also featured were thousands of baton twirlers, clowns, cheerleaders, marching musicians and performers including Brett Eldredge, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, the Goo Goo Dolls and Kellie Pickler.
"It's amazing," Pickler said, preparing to sing "Little Bit Gypsy." ''This is such an honor to be a part of this parade. I grew up watching this."
The parade largely went off without a hitch, though Sonic the Hedgehog got briefly hung up in the branches of a tree and a spinning dreidel balloon became temporarily deflated on a float meant to mark the start of Hanukkah, which fell on Thanksgiving for the first time in centuries.
Farther down the more-than-40-block parade route, 11-year-old Ema Kelly, of Manhasset, was protecting confetti buried 4 inches deep in her knitted hat, waiting for the parade's end: the Santa Claus float.
She shared confetti collection duties with her neighborhood friend, 10-year-old Matthew O'Connor.
"He forgot his hat so he's helping me collect it, and then we're going to split it on the bus ride home," she said.
Nearby, Columbia Law School student Andrew Leff said he had arrived at 5 a.m. to get a front-row spot to watch the parade for the 23rd time in his 24 years.
Greg Packer, of Huntington, said he would still make it to the stores when they open.
"I expect turkey, and I expect shopping," he said. A few blocks away, a line was forming outside a Best Buy store slated to open seven hours later.
In Philadelphia, gusty winds of 28 mph limited use of balloons during its annual parade, with officials citing concern for the safety of participants and spectators. Instead of flying along the entire route, the balloons soared only around Eakins Oval and the broadcast area near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.