There were floats, giant balloons, music and hopes of Al Roker potentially feuding with people dressed as condiments!
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returned for its 97th edition this year and featured iconic balloons, four new floats, and the return of Al after he missed last year's parade.
Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie also returned, bringing fans the sights and sounds of the celebration from the streets of New York City. As always, there were performances by some of music’s biggest names, including the legendary Cher.
This year's parade featured 5,000 volunteers, 16 character balloons, 26 floats, 32 heritage and novelty balloons, more than 700 clowns, 12 marching bands, and nine performance groups.
TODAY.com brought all those magical holiday moments and other surprises as they happened live.
In cast you missed it, read on to see all the fun action of this year's parade.
It’s a wrap! See Hoda and Al’s fun behind-the-scenes parade moments
Santa has made an appearance on his sleigh, bringing a close to the 97th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
After the festivities, Hoda and Al took to Instagram to share some fun looks at how they navigated their way to the parade route, including Hoda hustling "30-something" blocks to 77th Street to climb aboard the iconic Tom Turkey float.
Al's trip to Herald Square was a little more leisurely.
Hoda eventually got a ride!
Sheryl Lee Ralph channels Mrs. Claus in the final moments of the parade
"Abbott Elementary" star Sheryl Lee Ralph brought the parade to a crescendo in the final moments by appearing alongside Santa Claus as Mrs. Claus to officially ring in the holiday season.
The Emmy winner waved and blew kisses to the crowd in her green Mrs. Claus outfit as artificial snow fell around her.
"She brings such wit and grace to every single thing she does," Hoda said. "She is making this moment incredible. We love Macy's Mrs. Claus. She's exuding the kind of joy we need right now."
Cher rocks the crowd with "DJ Play a Christmas Song" from her first Christmas album
The iconic Cher turned 34th Street and the parade into a dance party with a stunning performance of her song "DJ Play a Christmas Song."
She came out in a stylish white sequined trench coat with a white shirt underneath, black tie and sequined black pants as the crowd danced to the track from her recently released Christmas album, the first of her legendary career.
"DJ play a Christmas song, I want to be dancing all night long," she sang as the crowd cheered.
Brandy, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots bring the holiday spirit with performances
Brandy got everyone in a cozy Christmas vibe with a performance of "Someday At Christmas" with a gospel choir singing backup. The singer was spotted on one of this year's new floats from candymaker Brach's.
"Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon and The Roots then turned up the volume as Jimmy did his best Joey Ramone impression with a punk-rock-style performance of "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)."
Beyoncé shares Thanksgiving message and the first look at new ‘Renaissance’ trailer
Beyoncé made a special appearance during the parade with a taped message and a look at the newest trailer for her upcoming "Renaissance" tour film.
"Hey it's Beyoncé, wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving," she said. "I'm so honored to share with you the first look at the new 'Renaissance' film trailer."
The clip shows some candid footage of the superstar with her children, her time away from the stage and moments from her sold-out "Renaissance" tour.
The parade is almost over, but Savannah, Hoda and Al are still going strong
Name a more iconic trio than Hoda, Savannah and Al. We'll wait. The parade has been going for nearly three hours, but they are still bringing the energy!
Kenan and Kel say hi to Al from the 'Good Burger' mobile
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell shouted out Al Roker as they rode by in the "Good Burger" mobile down the parade route.
Al has a cameo in the upcoming "Good Burger 2," the sequel to the 1997 hit starring Kenan and Kel.
"My boys! You're looking good!" Al yelled as they rolled by. "We're all dudes, you're a dude! Those are my boys!"
Goku, SpongeBob and more dazzling balloons from the parade
From old favorites to some impressive newcomers, it's another year of amazing balloons at the parade. We've had Goku from Dragonball Z, SpongeBob, Bluey, and more. Check them out here.
En Vogue, Bell Biv Devoe and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bring back ‘90s nostalgia
The parade took everyone back to the '90s for a stretch, starting with a stunning performance by En Vogue. The R&B group sang their 1992 hit "Free Your Mind."
They were followed by another legendary R&B trio, Bell Biv DeVoe, who rocked the crowd with their 1990 classic "Poison" while aboard a float featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Does it get any more '90s than that? We are here for it!
Did you catch Hoda’s special signal to her daughters?
Hoda said she was going to send a sweet little message to daughters Haley, 6, and Hope, 4, at home, and if you blinked you might have missed it.
While sitting next to Savannah, she quickly swiped her teeth like she was wiping off lipstick. That was the sign that Jenna Bush Hager triple dog dared her to do on TODAY, and she was true to her word that she would pull it off.
Well done, Hoda!
Miss America makes an appearance on the Spirit of America float
Miss America made a stunning entrance at the parade. The reigning winner, Grace Stanke, waved to the crowd from the Spirit of America float.
Stanke, 21, won Miss Wisconsin before being crowned Miss America in December 2022.
He’s here! Snoopy makes his debut at the parade as Beagle Scout Snoopy
A Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade legend has made his entrance! Snoopy is back for another year, and he has a brand new look.
A new balloon showing him as Beagle Scout Snoopy floated down 34th Street to the roar of the crowd. The balloon is the 10th different version of Snoopy to fly at the parade over the years.
Snoopy's pals Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus joined him on the float.
Al receives a call from President Biden and first lady Jill Biden
It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Al Roker getting a call from President Joe Biden, who was joined on the phone by first lady Jill Biden.
"It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without you," the president told Al.
Biden delivered a message of togetherness on the holiday, while the first lady urged others to commit to an act of kindness to someone on the holiday.
"On this Thanksgiving Day, we have to come together," Joe Biden said. "We can have different political views, but we have one view. The one view is we're the finest, greatest nation in the world. We should focus on that. We should focus on dealing with our problems and being together, and stop the rancor. We have to bring the nation together, we have to treat each other with a little bit of decency."
Al has had an ongoing friendship with the president, including a quick interview along the parade route at Biden's inaugural parade in 2021.
Al is back! He makes his return after missing last year's parade
Al Roker is back on the Thanksgiving Day Parade route after missing the annual event for the first time since 1995 last year due to health issues. This is Al's 29th appearance at the festivities.
“Look, I missed last year, I am so thankful to be anywhere this year, but especially here,” Al said on TODAY.
It was like he never left as he was hanging out with the famous Harlem Globetrotters as they showed off their basketball tricks to help kick off the parade.
Hoda rides on the iconic Tom Turkey to kick off the parade
Hoda made a grand entrance aboard Tom Turkey, the parade's oldest and most famous float, which signals the start of the festivities.
"This is amazing," Hoda said aboard the animatronic turkey. "I had to ride with Tom Turkey, I've never ridden with him before. This is an amazing perspective. The crowds are wild, the crowds are ready."
Savannah’s kids make an adorable appearance at the parade with mom
Two special guests are joining Savannah for the first time this year: her daughter Vale and son Charley!
"We have two elves who have never seen the parade even though their mother has been doing this 11 years," Savannah said on TODAY.
Charley, 6, gave a thumbs up and said he was looking forward to seeing "stuff" and the Snoopy balloon.
Al and Jimmy Fallon show off their salsa dancing skills before the parade
The parade wasn't even underway and Jimmy Fallon and Al Roker were already dancing.
The two shared a little salsa dance together on TODAY as the excitement built on the streets of Manhattan for the 97th annual parade.
"We salsa danced earlier on the way," Fallon said. "It was fantastic."
Fallon also had reason to celebrate as his new Christmas song, "Wrap Me Up," with Meghan Trainor hit No. 2 on the iTunes Christmas song charts behind the unstoppable "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey.
Savannah and Hoda share a sweet moment before the parade begins
The ladies are ready for the parade! Savannah and Hoda shared their excitement (and their stylish wardrobes for the day) along the parade route before the festivities officially get started.
In the second slide of a carousel post on TODAY's Instagram, Savannah conducted a mock "interview" with Hoda, asking her if she's ever been to the parade before. "We've got the best seat in the house!" a smiling Hoda responded.
NYPD commissioner shares what security precautions are in place
The New York Police Department commissioner Edward Caban gave an update on the security at the parade. He said the department has been on high alert since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel.
“Right now there are no specific or credible threats to New York City or the parade in general,” Caban told Savannah and Hoda on TODAY.
Caban said NYPD officers are lining the parade route and also working "behind the scenes." He said that the 50,000 members of the NYPD have been preparing for this year's parade since last year's parade ended.
Where can people watch the parade in person?
If you're in Manhattan in New York City and want to take in all the floats, giant balloons and music in person at this year's parade, there's 2.5 miles of public viewing areas this year along the parade route.
The New York Police Department will also be out in full force to keep people safe along the route. "We will do our job. Your job is to have as much fun as possible," NYC mayor Eric Adams said.
Here's the three areas in Manhattan that you can watch.
Central Park West, from West 75th to West 61st streets: Early risers can watch the beginning of the parade along this stretch. Avoid the section between West 59th and West 60th streets, where there is no public viewing.
Central Park South and 6th Avenue: Spectators can catch a view of the parade just after it turns at Columbus Circle onto Central Park South but before it switches onto 6th Avenue.
6th Avenue, from West 59th to West 38th streets: Viewers can get as close as possible to the end of the parade here, but avoid the area on 6th Avenue between West 34th and West 38th Street, where viewing is limited.
Hoda shares the secret signal she’s giving her daughters during the Thanksgiving parade
If you see Hoda quickly run her finger in front of her mouth like she's signaling to someone they have lipstick on their teeth, that's actually a cute little sign for her daughters Haley, 6, and Hope, 4, watching the parade at home.
Hoda said on TODAY Wednesday that she likes to do a secret sign every year at the parade to let the girls know that "Momma is looking at them." Usually it's her tugging on one of her ears, but this year she might go with a quick lipstick wipe as the new move.
She showed it off on TODAY, and Jenna Bush Hager had a simple question. "Do you have to look like a little squirrel when you do it?"
"Yes," Hoda said. "Otherwise it loses the effect."
Let's watch to see if she'll do it!
Who is performing at the parade?
The legendary Cher is the headliner, and she will perform songs from, "Christmas," the first holiday album of her iconic career. Five-time Grammy winner Jon Batiste will kick off festivities.
There also will be plenty of '90s nostalgia with Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, Chicago and En Vogue performing. Other artists include ENHYPEN, David Foster and Katharine McPhee, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, Jessie James Decker, Ashley Park with the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, Pentatonix, Paul Russell, Amanda Shaw and Alex Smith and Manuel Turizo.
As always, the marching bands will also be a highlight. There are 12 bands set to hit the streets this year, plus dance troupes and circus performers.
What are the balloons for 2023?
Old fan favorites like Pikachu (above), SpongeBob SquarePants and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" are back, plus seven new balloon characters.
You can't have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade without a Snoopy balloon, and this year fans will get to see Beagle Scout Snoopy. The other new balloons include Blue Cat & Chugs, “Kung Fu Panda” character Po, Netflix's “Leo” lizard, Monkey D. Luffy, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Illumination's “Migration” character Uncle Dan.
What are the new floats this year?
Willy Wonka and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be hitting the streets of Manhattan as two of the four new floats that will make their debut in 2023.
The eye-popping pink of the "Deliciously Delectable World of Wonka" by Warner Bros. Pictures float is inspired by Willy Wonka’s candy shop and features 500,000 pieces of prop candy. The two-story Ninja Turtles float, inspired by the Paramount Pictures film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," stands 28-feet tall and will be folded down to travel through the Lincoln Tunnel before arriving at the parade.
A giant gingerbread house highlights the Palace of Sweets float by candymaker Brach's, while the Igniting Memories by Solo Stove brings a camping environment to the middle of the city with a natural rock formation and seating area. Solo Stove is the company behind the buzzy ad that had everyone thinking Snoop Dogg had given up smoking before it turned out he was endorsing their smokeless fire pit.
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