Americans on Thursday (November 26) celebrated a Thanksgiving Day transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, with the traditional Macy’s parade limited to a television-only event and many families resigned to meeting on video for turkey dinner.
Thanksgiving, normally a day for family and friends to gather in big numbers to feast on turkey and pumpkin pie and remember life’s blessings, has been upended by the pandemic, with cases and deaths surging in recent weeks as cooler weather pushes people indoors where the virus spreads more easily.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, a spectacle of giant character balloons that has delighted children for nearly a century, was scaled back significantly. The route was reduced to one block, rather than 2.5 miles; balloon handlers were replaced by specially rigged vehicles; and spectators were prohibited from lining the streets as before.
The event concluded at noon after a three-hour procession of performances, floats and balloons, featuring stars like country music legend Dolly Parton and a four-story-tall “Boss Baby” from the popular film about a business-attired toddler — all without the usual millions on hand to watch from the street.
Parton made headlines earlier in the month when it was revealed she made a $1 million dollar donation to coronavirus research which helped fund pharmaceutical giant Moderna’s vaccine, the Washington Post reported.
The holiday is being celebrated at a time of severe economic strain for millions of Americans. First-time claims for jobless benefits increased further last week, government data on Wednesday (November 25) showed, suggesting that the recent explosion in COVID-19 infections and resulting business restrictions were undermining the labor market.
Despite advice from the Centers for Disease Control to stay home for the holiday, nearly 6 million Americans traveled by air from Friday to Wednesday (November 20 – 25), according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, although that is less than half the figure during the same period last year.
(Production: Deborah Gembara)