A parade "zebra," followed by a floating Julius the Monkey,… (Louis Lanzano / Associated…)
When Sandy slammed the East Coast, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, floats and costumes were spared from the devastation. And Thursday morning, New Yorkers' mood elevated along with the traditional helium-filled balloons as the parade kicked off, just as it had for more than eight decades.
The sun was shining and the atmosphere reportedly was festive as the 86th annual event got started at 9 a.m. Eastern. The temperature was 47 degrees -- nothing a New Yorker couldn't handle -- and, according to the Associated Press, attendees were in a parade mood, marveling at the giant balloons, performers and marching bands.
Some had camped out for a good spot, cozy in sleeping bags.
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Among celebrities set for the parade: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Big Apple Circus, Flo Rida, Whoopi Goldberg, the Muppets and the cast of "Sesame Street." (If you're wondering whether Elmo will make an appearance amid the sex scandal surrounding puppeteer Kevin Clash, the character will reportedly be part of a "Sesame Street" float.)
New balloons set for this year were Hello Kitty, Elf on the Shelf and Papa Smurf -- as well as an unusual character known as KAWS' Companion. The black and gray figure that covers its face with its hands is by artist and former tagger Brian Donnelly, whose artistic alias is KAWS. The figure spurred a lot of stares in 2011 when it was installed at New York's Standard Hotel (pictures).
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped at the parade, according to the AP, where he praised those involved in the Sandy storm response, including police, firefighters, the armed services, volunteers and sanitation workers. He was then set to head to a firehouse in the Rockaways area of Queens, which was hit hard by the storm.
The mayor's office, along with other organizations, were preparing Thursday to distribute 26,500 holiday meals in neighborhoods affected by Sandy.
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