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For a moment, it seemed New York was almost back to normal.

After the pandemic forced a toned down, long version of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade last year, this year the iconic event was set to come to life again, with the full set of floats, balloons, and marching bands expected to parade. Thursday throughout Central Park West to Herald Square.

And again, it kicked off on Wednesday with another tradition, known locally as “Inflation Day” – the public viewing on 72nd Street of the giant Pikachu, Papa Smurf, the Smokey Bear and other balloons stars as they were filled with helium for the parade.

“Anyone who wants to see the balloons inflating must get off at this station,” a Metropolitan Transportation Authority train conductor said over the loudspeaker of a downtown C train as he pulled into the subway station. from 72nd street. “This is where you see the balloons.”

Just up the stairs from the metro, there was another less welcoming ad. “Welcome to Fascist New York! an anti-vaccine protester repeatedly shouted at the crowd, which included small children, parents and veterans in wheelchairs, as they passed by to view the balloons.

And as people flocked east on 71st Street, they were greeted by a group of people wearing red bibs with “vax checker” written on the back. The inspectors asked everyone to show their identity and vaccination cards, and to put on a face mask.

On 81st Street, Diane Roberts, who works in media outlets in Washington, DC, was celebrating what she called a milestone birthday a year late – she declined to say which – with four best friends who finally got to travel from all over the world. country to be with her.

Just talking about being able to see the parade brought tears to her eyes. She wasn’t bothered by vaccine checkers, crowd control, or the need for masks. “It’s a cloud above, but I still think it’s better to be here masked than not to be here at all,” she said.

A few blocks away were the Lamar family, visiting from Atlanta, Ga., On their first family trip since the pandemic began more than 20 months ago. They were home to a giant green dinosaur. “Times of celebration are important,” said Leroy Lamar, who heads a nonprofit organization. “And it’s important that we do them together.”

nytimes Gt

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