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2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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The 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was attended by more than 3 million people and watched by 50 million on TV, including such giant balloons as Elf on a Shelf and Papa Smurf, a new version of Hello Kitty, Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Real-life stars included singer Carly Rae Jepsen and Rachel Crow of "The X Factor."

Thursday's parade kicked off at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan and this year, the parade route traveled down 6th Avenue and ended at 34th Street/ Macy's Herald Square

8,000 marchers including those holding down massive, inflated balloons took part in the festivities.

Victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast were comforted by kinder weather, free holiday meals and — for some — front row seats to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Some parade-goers had camped out to get a good spot, staying snug in sleeping bags and the weather cooperated for the big day with sunny skies and a high in the low 50s.

The young, and the young at heart, were delighted by the sight and sound of marching bands, performers and, of course, the giant balloons.

Getting to the parade was a challenge, but traffic expert Gridlock Sam Schwartz said this year might not be as bad.

"With the parade going down 6th Ave. this year, it will be easier for people on Madison Ave. I don't think you'll get the same kind of crowds as Times Square.  Bryant Park is a great place to watch the parade," Schwartz told Good Day NY.

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