I guess that because this has been such an ironclad tradition my whole life,  the news has come as quite a shock. And, then again, not really a shock at all.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Macy's Inc. will switch to a virtual format for its annual iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I can't tell you how many Thanksgiving mornings I'd race to the television--just like it was Saturday morning and the cartoons were about to start--and sit there waiting to see the big Bullwinkle balloon--always the toughest customer--or Underdog or Charlie Brown or Snoopy.

How in the world did they make balloons that big, I'd always wonder. But it wasn't just the balloons.

Back in the day, the late actor William Conrad (Cannon) would be the host of ALL the Thanksgiving Day parades that were aired those mornings.

He'd be in what looked like a den with the fireplace going, books on the shelves, comfortable furniture, that sort of thing. He'd tell stories about the Thanksgiving celebrations of his past and he'd share recipes.

Then he'd hand it off to Bob Barker, the on-the-street emcee for the legendary presentation.

Then it came back to Conrad, who'd swing the viewers out to Honolulu for its parade. Or to Detroit or Chicago or L.A.

What an absolute blast.

But the pandemic has altered how we do so many things in 2020 and I can't really say that I'm surprised at what Macy's announced on Monday.

The company's press statement indicates that the number of participants will be reduced by about 75%; that participants will maintain proper social distancing during performances and that masks will be worn, as will PPE, as needed; that the traditional 2.5 mile parade route will not be used; and that there will be no participant under the age of 18.

The statement also said this about the balloons, arguably the parade's most iconic emblems:

"Macy’s traditional Giant Balloon Inflation public event on Wednesday will not take place," and the balloons themselves "will be flown without the traditional 80-100 handlers and instead employ an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by the NYCDOT and NYPD."

So the parade, which will air on NBC, Thursday November 26th beginning at 8AM Central, WILL go on. It just won't look like any Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade we've ever seen before.

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