NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of people marched down the streets of Manhattan for the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Last year’s parade was scaled back significantly because of the pandemic, but Thursday it returned in a big way.

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CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge spoke with people who came for the first time, others who came for their 50th, and some celebrating a birthday. Whatever the reason, they said the parade has a magical feel that gets them into the holiday spirit and, most of all, feeling thankful.

Crowds packed the Upper West Side to Herald Square to celebrate one of New York City’s favorite traditions.

“It’s amazing. This was a bucket list for me,” first timer Yahaira Serrano told Duddridge. “The weather is amazing, the energy is wonderful, the parade is just so exciting.”

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“Just seeing all the floats flying high in the sky and everything, it’s just so amazing,” another spectator added.

“Every year since they were his size we’ve been coming to the parade,” said Michael Bader.

Leading the pack was “Tom the Turkey,” the oldest and most famous float in the parade. Approximately 6,500 marchers stepped off at 9 a.m. from 77th Street and Central Park West, heading down a 2.5-mile route and ending on 34th Street.

This year saw six new floats and four new balloons. In total, there were 15 giant character balloons and 36 inflatables.

“My favorite is ‘Chase,'” one child said.

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“‘Pikachu,'” said another.

“‘Baby Yoda,'” another added.

The new addition Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda, was as tall as a three-story building and took almost 100 people to fly.

Also making her debut was “Ada,” a young cartoon scientist. Of course, there were the classics, like “Ronald McDonald,” the “Pillsbury Doughboy” and “Snoopy,” which has appeared in more than 40 parades — the most of any balloon.

“Snoopy is my man since I was a kid,” one person said. “A little doll. I’d carry him everywhere.”

There were also 800 clowns, 28 floats, the Rockettes, musical performers, and the entire event built up to the star of the show, Santa Claus.

Now, the attention turns to the turkey dinner, and mostly importantly, giving thanks.

“I’m thankful for my family, and friends and everyone,” said one person.

Quickly after the parade ended, the cleanup began. One hundred people used 19 mechanical brooms, 20 hand brooms and 18 backpack blowers, and garbage will then be hauled away in 12 collection trucks.

Duddridge reported there were big cheers for the essential workers along the route.

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Natalie Duddridge