| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 21 Giant helium balloons rose
above the treetops along New York's Central Park on Wednesday
ahead of the 86th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the largest
public event so far in a city still recovering from Superstorm
The parade that typically draws 3.5 million spectators and
50 million television viewers will follow a new route this year,
skipping Times Square entirely - to the chagrin of business
owners there. Instead, the procession will head down Sixth
Avenue, also known as the Avenue of the Americas, before
culminating at Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.
"As it has during turbulent times in our history, we hope
the Macy's Parade serves as a beacon of hope for all who tune in
and gather with friends and family to give thanks this season,
as they continue to heal from the devastating aftermath of
Superstorm Sandy," Amy Kule, the parade's executive producer,
said in a statement.
The parade will feature 16 giant character balloons, many of
which are lucrative registered trademarks or brand mascots,
including a 60-foot-tall Kermit the Frog, as well as 28 floats,
1,600 cheerleaders and dancers, 11 marching bands, and someone
who looks a lot like Santa Claus.
Celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Isaak, Carly
Rae Jepsen and the Muppets are due to appear or perform.
Macy's has said it will be providing transport and seats for
some 5,000 people affected by Sandy, which last month inundated
lower Manhattan with seawater, rearranged the New Jersey shore
and Long Island, and tore up neighborhoods in far-flung areas of
New York's outer boroughs.
At least 132 people died in the United States and Canada as
a result of the storm.
On Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced
that the city, in partnership with local community organizations
and businesses, was coordinating 26,500 Thanksgiving meals for
people hardest hit by the storm.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Paul Simao)