NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While Americans across the country head off to their Thanksgiving destinations Wednesday evening, the organizers of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are putting the finishing touches on the annual extravaganza.

The pre-Thanksgiving balloon inflation is took place Wednesday near the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side — an event that has become its own tradition for many New Yorkers.

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On West 77th Street, several of the parade’s 17 balloons were inflated, including Spongebob, Hello Kitty and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

PHOTOS: 2015 Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation

The event brought crowds of children and adults, lining the streets to watch the spectacle.

“It’s really cool,” one 11-year-old girl told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “And they’re so big.” 

There were lots of police officers on duty, with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio both stopping by.

The parade’s executive producer, Amy Kule, spoke with 1010 WINS Anchor Brian Carey on Wednesday, offering a preview of the 89th annual parade.

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Kule said this year’s parade features the best of giant balloons, floats, marching bands, and performers “unparalleled to years’ past.”

So what’s new in this year’s parade?

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“We’re adding four giant balloons to our parade family and I always am really happy to add balloons to the parade family that have never really been seen before,” Kule said. “We’ve got Scrat from ‘Ice Age.’ Everybody loves him so much and he’s flying, chasing a giant acorn as he does in the movie.”

Another new float this year is the red bird from the Angry Birds game.

“He’s in fact the only character in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that is angry. Everybody else? Very happy,” Kule joked.

Photos: Favorite Parade Balloons Throughout The Years

This year’s parade also features a lineup of high school and college marching bands from Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, and Virginia, among other states.

Kule said every year the parade organizers surprise the selected bands.

“We sneak into their band room or into an auditorium and we let them know that after all their years of trying and the application process, that they’re going to be apart of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” she said.

This year, the parade is also honoring longtime Macy’s employee Roseanne Levy for her 60 years of volunteering with the parade.

“The heart of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade really is the volunteers that bring this parade to life,” Kule said.

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1010 WINS is the official radio station of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Can’t be there to watch? Listen live!