Let’s first begin in the Northeast where more than 8 million people are currently under winter weather alerts. That number is likely to rise through the weekend.
As one system departs New England on Saturday another will gather strength over the Great Lakes on its way to New England on Sunday.
The first system has left appreciable snows in its wake. Roughly a foot has accumulated on some of the higher peaks in Vermont and New York on Friday through Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, around 4 to 6 inches has fallen east of Lake Erie with lighter amounts elsewhere.
“Blowing snow caused by windy conditions are likely to remain a hazard for the interior Northeast today,” the Weather Prediction Center said on Saturday morning. This blowing snow could reduce visibility on the roadways across the Northeast on Saturday.
The second system, an Alberta Clipper, will move through Minnesota on Saturday producing a mixed bag of precipitation over parts of the Midwest — mainly in the form of rain and sleet.
Conditions then deteriorate from west to east through late Sunday as the clipper makes a beeline into New England.
The consensus will be an additional 1 to 3 inches from Minnesota to Maine. Snow flurries may even be seen in New York City and Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Great Lakes are 100% ice free though. Decent lake effect snow bands could setup with the right fetch of wind and cold air as a result.
Therefore some areas could possibly see up to an additional 8 inches of snow, such as those downwind of Lake Erie, due to these lake effect snow bands setting up.
The windy conditions accompanying the clipper will once again cause poor visibility on the roads, as well as a few air delays. Airport delays for the most part on Saturday and Sunday, however, look to be minor in the Northeast.
Atmospheric river drenches the Pacific Northwest
Another area that could see travel delays this weekend will be across the Pacific Northwest.
A level 4 out of 5 “extreme” atmospheric river event is forecast to produce several inches of rain across the Pacific Northwest beginning on Saturday and lasting through Sunday.
A level 4 atmospheric river is categorized as “mostly hazardous, but also beneficial” according to the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E). This means that flooding and landslide hazards could pose a threat across the region, however the amount of heavy rain could also be beneficial for drought conditions or for filling reservoirs.
The heaviest rain is forecast to fall across the coastal regions, including Seattle, on Saturday afternoon and evening before shifting into the Olympics and northern Cascades on Sunday.
This weekend’s atmospheric river event is the second in a series of three storms, the first brought rain to the Pacific Northwest on Thanksgiving Day and the third is forecast to impact the region by Tuesday.
This heavy rain will not just be confined to Washington state; it will extend north into British Columbia in Canada this weekend as well. Both areas have seen an onslaught of heavy rain over the last couple of weeks which led to record-breaking rainfall and flooding.
“Due to high forecasted freezing levels and moist soil conditions caused by the multiple [atmospheric rivers] during 10 to 16 November, a large portion of the precipitation could lead to runoff, exacerbating [flood] impacts,” the CW3E warns.
Flood watches are in effect for over 3 million people across portions of Washington state, including Seattle, as 3 to 6 inches of rain is forecast.
Not much snow is in the forecast for Washington state as temperatures are running 10 to 20 degrees above normal for late November with highs in the 50s. While these more mild temperatures may be a nice change from winter’s chill, they can lead to other hazardous in the higher elevations.
“Mild temperatures and wind will lead to some melting of the early season snowpack,” the National Weather Service (NWS) in Spokane, Washington, said on Saturday morning.
This melting snowpack in conjunction with heavy rain could increase runoff, elevating the flood threat ever further.
“There will also be an increased risk of rock slides and debris flows in steep terrain and the potential to impact roads and backcountry trails, including near burn scars,” NWS Spokane also said.
Those planning to take a drive through the mountain passes this weekend will need to plan accordingly for these hazards or wait until the weather improves on Monday afternoon.
The Bulldogs are in Washington D.C. this weekend to take part in the D1 in DC tournament hosted by the Washington Pride junior women’s hockey program at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex. UMD takes on Penn State at 3 p.m. on Friday and St. Lawrence at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Ohio State, which visits Duluth in a week, is the fourth team, taking on the Saints on Friday and Nittany Lions on Saturday.
For Rogge, this is her fourth Thanksgiving trip in five seasons at UMD having previously taken part in the Nutmeg Classic at Quinnipiac (Hamden, Connecticut) in 2019, playing at Clarkson (Potsdam, New York) in 2018 and the Windjammer Classic at Vermont in 2017.
Naomi Rogge (9) of Minnesota Duluth takes control of the puck near Sophie Helgeson (3) of Wisconsin during the second period on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
“We usually are able to have a big Thanksgiving dinner where parents have been there and different family, and it’s just a lot of bonding between everyone as a whole,” Rogge said of what she enjoys about these trips. “We like to think Bulldog family includes our parents and our siblings as well, so I think it’s super cool that we’re able to all hang out together.”
While a great team bonding experience, UMD coach Maura Crowell also emphasized this is a “business trip” for a Bulldogs team that is finally playing nonconference games after 10 WCHA contests to open the 2021-22 season.
Because of scheduling issues at other schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMD only has four nonconference games scheduled for this season. After playing College Hockey America’s Nittany Lions and the Saints of the ECAC this weekend, UMD travels to play the ECAC’s Harvard over New Year’s.
That makes these “massive” games for a Bulldogs squad that is eyeing more than just a return to the NCAA tournament, but another Frozen Four run.
“We only have four of them, so each one is a little bit bigger,” Crowell said. “The impact of these games feels a little like a COVID year where we had less games, making them all more important. That’s how these feel, in a sense.”
The WCHA — where Crowell said every game is also massive — is currently undefeated in nonconference play heading into Thanksgiving, going 17-0-1 in games against CHA, ECAC and Hockey East. The Bulldogs and Buckeyes are the only two WCHA programs to have not played nonconference games yet, so they’re both looking to add their stamp on the league’s success.
“It makes me think of the IceBreaker Tournament a few years ago,” Crowell said, referencing UMD’s trip to Buffalo in 2019. “We played with a ton of pride in obviously UMD, but also our league, representing there. It’s the same here. We talk about being the best league in the country. We have to show it. So we’re excited to do that.”
NCAA tournament expansion clears another major hurdle
The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee supported a recommended format for an 11-team NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championship tournament, and supported it taking effect this season.
Under the format proposed by the National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Committee — which includes UMD athletic director Josh Berlo — the top five seeds will receive first-round byes, with the fifth seed playing a quarterfinal game at one of the top four seeds (but not necessarily at the No. 4 seed, though Crowell said Wednesday it is her understanding No. 4 will host No. 5, despite the NCAA’s wording).
The three first-round games would take place at the campus sites of three of the top four seeds, and there will be a day off in between the first round and quarterfinal games.
From there the tournament remains the same, with the quarterfinal winners advancing to the Frozen Four on March 18-20 at Penn State.
“The women’s ice hockey committee thinks this format allows the tournament to stay on its current schedule,” the NCAA wrote. “Committee members believe it is important to make sure there is a day of rest for teams after competing in the first round, then having to face a team that received a bye into the quarterfinals.”
The format still needs final approval by the NCAA Division I Council on Dec. 15. Crowell said she is excited for that final stamp of approval to make it official.
“I think the format is going to be as good as it can be with an 11-team tournament,” said Crowell, who was part of a working group this offseason that helped put together a proposal to expand the NCAA women’s hockey tournament. “Again, our focus is on getting more teams in versus all of the nitty-gritty. However we need to get there, where we need to play, who we need to play, how that works — we’ll be ready.”
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – As travelers spend time with their friends and family, State Highway Patrol and Charleston International Airport officials say they are preparing now before people head home for the holiday’s.
“We’re sometimes the first and last impression anyone has in Charleston, and we take that very seriously, “says Elliott Summey, CEO and Executive Director of the Charleston International Airport.
“We’re gonna be out and about to get people off the roadway that need to be off the roads,” says Lance Corporal Trooper Nick Pye, with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
So far this year, there has been more than 900 fatalities on the roadways here in South Carolina. Trooper Pye says one of the leading causes to their fatality numbers is drinking and driving, especially around the holiday’s.
“It’s just something that is avoidable. Someone that is making a bad decision, not doing what they’re supposed to do and ultimately it’s costing them their life or someone else’s,” says Trooper Pye.
With thousands of people flying in and out of the airport, officials say they have found new ways to prepare for crowds and traffic.
“We have law enforcement officers out in the intersections working traffic, curb attendance and we have opened our new parking garage,” says Summey.
Trooper Pye encourages travelers to think twice before hitting the roads or skies, so you can make it to your destination safely.
“If you go out and you make a bad decision, your flirting with either ending up in jail and not being with your family, or ultimately losing your life,” says Trooper Pye.
State Highway Patrol says if you are planning to drink, make sure you have a designated driver set up or order an Uber or Lyft.
Welcome to a special Thanksgiving Day edition of our NFL playoff picture. If you kept only one eye on the games, or even if you watched them closely, we have a lot to discuss. The outcomes of two matchups shook up the playoff standings in both conferences. Among the takeaways:
The Bills’ win over the New Orleans Saints elevated the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re currently No. 7 in the NFC standings, while the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss has them looking up at the NFC field.
The Las Vegas Raiders‘ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them back in contention to move into the AFC wild-card race should a current contender falter.
The Cowboys’ lead in the NFC East isn’t yet threatened, but the surging Philadelphia Eagles can no longer be discounted in the division race.
We’ve updated those situations and more below. Look for another update after Sunday’s games as Week 12 continues.
No team has exemplified this unpredictable season better than the Titans, who won seven of their first nine games despite facing the NFL’s most difficult schedule over that stretch. They then embarked on a much easier schedule, only to suffer a stunning home loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to continue closing the gap in the AFC South, shrinking the Titans’ lead to two games with six to play. (Tennessee won both head-to-head matchups with Indianapolis.) Regardless of whether the Colts can catch them, it’s difficult to view the Titans as the clear-cut AFC favorite when two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets — who have a combined record of 4-16. And now the Patriots, arguably the hottest team in the league, await them on Sunday.
Next up: at Patriots
Even without quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens managed to maintain their hold on first place in the AFC North. They haven’t been pretty for a while, having lost to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an overtime win over the Vikings over the past month. But maybe that’s just how it’s going to be for them.
Next up: vs. Browns
Will a convincing win Thursday in the Superdome be enough to pull the Bills out of a midseason spiral? They entered Week 12 having lost two of their past three games, including an inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-point loss to the Colts. The Bills better hope they’ve figured things out, because they’re about to head into a brutal stretch of their schedule. They will play the red-hot Patriots twice in four weeks, with a game at the Buccaneers mixed in there, as well. But for a few days, at least, they’ve returned to the top of the AFC East.
Next up: vs Patriots (Week 13)
Josh Allen finds Dawson Knox for his second touchdown of the game versus New Orleans.
The Chiefs are rolling off their fourth consecutive victory, a streak that has brought them from below .500 to atop the AFC West. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the Chiefs will be among the seven teams representing the AFC in the playoffs, and more likely than not, they will be the AFC West champion.
Next up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)
It took the Patriots less than two months to recover from their 1-3 start and even briefly supplant the Bills atop the AFC East. The Bills reclaimed first place with a Thanksgiving win over the Saints, but the Patriots will re-take the position if they beat the Titans in Week 12. Five consecutive wins — and six in their past seven games — have not only given them a division advantage but also put them within reasonable range of the top seed in the AFC. It’s all in front of them now. The Patriots have a fortuitous home game against the AFC-leading Titans this week then play the Bills twice in a three-game stretch next month. If you’re judging postseason seedings by how teams are playing at the moment, it’s difficult to look past the Patriots as the best-situated team in the AFC (right now, of course).
Next up: vs. Titans
There was a time when lots of people were worried about Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s health in returning from last season’s knee injury. Through 10 games, we can say that the concern was mostly unfounded. Just making it through 10 games didn’t seem a certainty when the season began, but he has the Bengals’ offense humming, most recently with a 32-point outburst in Week 11’s victory over the Raiders. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is giving the Bengals roughly a 50-50 chance of making the playoffs, but in a wide-open AFC, they have absolutely put themselves in position to be in the December conversation.
Next up: vs. Steelers
The Chargers did everything they could to fall out of the AFC’s top seven in Week 11, but in the biggest sign yet that they are turning a corner under coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers stopped doing Chargers things long enough to retake the lead. There is still a lot to question about the Chargers, most notably their special teams, but they showed they are to be taken seriously in the AFC playoff race.
The Colts have won three consecutive games and five of their past six, but prior to Week 11, the quality of the teams they beat wasn’t too impressive. That changed with a blowout victory at Buffalo. The Colts are trending in all the right directions, and the Buccaneers are their next test.
We can do nothing but tip our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide seemed well underway during a three-game losing steak entering Thursday’s game at the Cowboys. They went into AT&T Stadium and won a war of attrition, and now have 10 days to prepare for a winnable home game against Washington in Week 13.
Anthony Brown is whistled for a pass interference penalty, which sets the Raiders up for Daniel Carlson’s winning field goal in overtime.
It’s incredible that the Browns have won six games given the obvious impact quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s left shoulder injury is having on his performance. Oh, and don’t forget the messy presence and departure of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. If you’re picking one team to fall out of the wild-card race due to exhaustion, it’s the Browns. They have a road trip to Baltimore on deck.
The Broncos will return from a bye with a .500 record, but consecutive games against the Chargers and Chiefs will likely knock them further from the AFC wild-card race.
Let’s tip our cap to the Cardinals, who have traveled quite a journey since their last-minute loss in Week 8 to the Packers. Playing without quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they have gone 2-1 with wins at division rivals San Francisco and Seattle. The Cardinals have become the fourth team in NFL history to start a season 6-0 in road games and will get their MVP-caliber quarterback back sooner than later. FPI is calling them a virtual lock to make the playoffs and giving them a better than 90% chance to win the NFC West.
Next up: at Bears (Week 13)
In most scenarios, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But what should we say about a Packers team that is losing key players to injury on a weekly basis? They are still in really good shape in the NFC North, leading the Vikings by 2½ games, with a Week 17 matchup against Minnesota at Lambeau Field looming. But at the very least, the Packers’ depth is going to be tested during December football.
Next up: vs. Rams
The defending Super Bowl champions broke a mildly alarming two-game losing streak on Monday night with a convincing win over the Giants, a team that entered the game ranked No. 23 in the NFL with an average of 18.9 offensive points per game. The lane is there for a high seed in the NFC bracket, as their remaining schedule includes only two teams with winning records (the Colts and Bills).
Next up: vs. Colts
Uh-oh. The Cowboys were expected to take off once they got quarterback Dak Prescott back from injury. Instead, they have lost three of their past four games. Their lead in the NFC East is not yet threatened; the Eagles would still be two games behind in the loss column even if they beat the Giants on Sunday. But it remains an open question whether the Cowboys will head into the playoffs as a genuine contender or will be in the postseason simply because they’re the least-flawed team in a weak division.
Next up: at Saints (Week 13)
A referee takes a fall as Tony Pollard takes the kick return 100 yards to the house.
It has been a quick tumble for the “all-in” Rams, who have fallen from the top spot in the NFC to the wild-card picture with two consecutive losses. Regardless, the Rams’ Week 11 bye came at a good time. They had two weeks to get newcomers Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. more acclimated to their program, in addition to figuring out why quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown four interceptions during the two-game skid. They better hope they get it figured out, because their upcoming schedule includes not only the Packers but the Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens and 49ers. That will be a tough run.
Next up: at Packers
When you seem to play close games every week, the math says you should at least win some of them. The Vikings’ Week 11 victory over the Packers boosted their division and conference records. Both are key categories for tiebreakers, and their 4-2 NFC record is the reason they are ahead of the Saints and 49ers (whom they play next week) in the NFC playoff standings. Overall, the Vikings have played in seven consecutive games that have been decided by seven or fewer points, a stretch that either has hardened them for a playoff run or will ultimately cost them entrance into the postseason altogether.
Next up: at 49ers
The 49ers have won three of their past four, and they were able to leapfrog the Saints in the wild-card race following Thursday’s action. No one can say with certainty whether the 49ers are truly a playoff team, but sometimes these matters get decided in the postseason. Their remaining strength of schedule ranks No. 25 in the league. One caveat to keep in mind is that the Eagles, another NFC wild-card competitor, have the NFL’s easiest remaining schedule.
The Eagles also have won three of their past four, all of which by more than 10 points. And when you see two games apiece against Washington and the Giants remaining, as well as a matchup against the Jets, you see a pretty favorable schedule for staying in the wild-card race. Philly has a road game against the Giants this week.
Can the Panthers really be a playoff contender with a quarterback they signed out of free agency and inserted into the starting lineup within two weeks? Cam Newton might be Superman, but he isn’t a magician. Carolina will travel to play the Dolphins on Sunday.
That’s now four consecutive losses for the Saints since starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury. Their offense had zero punch Thursday night against the Bills, and they’re now looking up at the NFC playoff field. They’ll play the Cowboys in Week 13, but the one bright spot is that four of their final six opponents have losing records.
Thanksgiving air travel did not reach the record highs of 2019, but it was close. About 2.3 million people passed through Transportation Safety Administration checkpoints on Wednesday, more travelers than on any other day during the pandemic.
This figure was more than twice as many travelers as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last year. This year’s total was about 88 percent of the travelers that flew on that same Wednesday in 2019.
BREAKING NEWS: @TSA officers screened 2,311,978 people nationwide yesterday, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, making it the highest checkpoint volume since the low point of the pandemic, which was on April 13, 2020, when only 87,534 people were screened nationwide. #MaskUp
Social media was abuzz with nearly equal complaints about the longest airport lines people had experienced in years and surprise that lines were so short, reinforcing the idea pandemic unpredictability persists.
Among those travelers sharing a sense of excitement about being able to visit family this Thanksgiving, was Katie Thurston of San Diego, known to some as the Bachelorette from Season 17 of that reality show.
Not me crying as my plane lands in Seattle 🥺 Had no idea how much I was missing home. This mask is about to be drenched 😷 Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Feeling so thankful for my family today. 🤍
“To go back to something that feels normal makes me feel so emotional,” she said in a telephone interview, after tweeting about her tearful reaction to landing in Seattle to visit her mother and sister and meet her baby niece for the first time.
Hundreds of airport food service workers picketed on Wednesday at San Francisco International Airport over a dispute involving health care. But contrary to some passengers’ fears — and warnings from the Southwest Airlines pilots union in August — there were no walkouts by flight attendants or pilots on Wednesday.
Amid concerns that passengers would get aggressive with flight attendants and pick fights about masks — issues throughout the pandemic — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland urged federal prosecutors to prioritize the prosecution of passengers that commit assault or other crimes on board.
Typically, the busiest days for air travel during the Thanksgiving period are the Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday, and the Sunday after it, according to a T.S.A. spokesman.
United said that the airline expected the Sunday after Thanksgiving to be its busiest day since the pandemic began. Still, the day seemed unlikely to surpass prepandemic travel figures overall given how extraordinary that weekend was two years ago. More people flew on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019 — according to T.S.A. checkpoint data — than ever before in the agency’s 20-year history.
And travelers are unlikely to face weather delays as they try to get home.
“Sunday is pretty quiet across much of the country,” said Lara Pagano, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Still, Becky Esquivel, a T.S.A. officer at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, urged people to arrive at least two hours before boarding their return flights just to be safe.
A handful of people lingered around the counter in Andy’s Deli on 80th Street and Columbus Avenue, ordering bagels and coffee or picking up last-minute holiday supplies as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolled on nearby.
Nick Spathis and his staff took orders and rang up purchases from police officers and parade volunteers. Locals trickled in. Across the street, Columbus Avenue was packed.
Last year, Andy’s was closed, the first time Mr. Spathis, who’s owned the business for 33 years, was not open on Thanksgiving. And while this year Mr. Spathis opened at 5 a.m., the morning was quiet.
“It’s not surprising to me,” he said, after handing some coffees to wranglers for the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon. “With the pandemic, everything is slow.”
“It’s getting along little by little,” he added later. “It might take another year.”
Businesses and entrepreneurs along Columbus Avenue, parallel to the parade route along Central Park West, had mixed reactions to whether the parade’s comeback and the foot traffic brought with it an economic boost. For some, the morning yawned on no differently from other mornings. For others, its return brought a high volume of customers.
A few blocks away, Mast Market, which opened one week ago, had its first lull in the morning at about 9:30. The shop normally opened a half-hour earlier than normal.
“There were enough people lined up outside peering in,” Robin Mates, the market’s manager, said. “It’s been nonstop.”
Banca Grucan stood on Columbus, yelling as she hawked balloons, including a Buzz Lightyear one.
Originally from Ecuador, Ms. Grucan has been selling her wares on Thanksgiving morning for 12 years. She had barely sold 20 balloons by about 10 a.m, she said in Spanish, less than half of what she sold in years past.
For the past 40 years, Thomas Johnson has trekked from Connecticut to sell turkey hats on Thanksgiving. Last year, was the first he did not make the yearly pilgrimage. “It was depressing,” Mr. Johnson, 62, said.
On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was all smiles as he stood on the corner of 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
“Turkey hats,” he shouted, gobbling like a turkey with his signature headgear.
One happy customer called out to him from the street: “My gobbling friend you got me looking good on Facebook — thank you so much!”
Business was so brisk he could barely keep up with demand. By early morning, he had sold about 100 hats and was ordering more from a supplier.
“I love it — I love it!” Mr. Johnson said, holding some turkey hats and throwing his hands up in the air. The people and the costumes bring him joy, he said. He posed for at least one photo with costumers.
“If my friends could see me now, they’d be laughing,” he added later, saying he’s a teacher. “I wear a suit and tie normally.”
Thousands rushed to book vaccination appointments in France on Thursday after the government announced that all adults were eligible for a booster shot and that health passes would no longer be valid after a certain period if they failed to get one.
France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, said at a news conference on Thursday that France was experiencing a new wave of cases that would be “stronger and longer” than the one over the summer, but that “no lockdown, no curfew, no store closures, no travel restrictions” would be enforced.
By focusing on vaccinations and social distancing measures, he said, “we are making the choice to reconcile freedom and responsibility.”
Some adults who have not received a booster shot within seven months of their second injection will see their passes expire, barring access to restaurants, museums, long-distance trains and other public places unless they get tested regularly, Mr. Véran said.
He said that over 400,000 vaccination appointments had been booked on Wednesday, ahead of his news conference.
About 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. But the number of new daily cases has spiked recently to about 30,000 over the past few days, according to French officials, and have reached the prime minister. The recent surge has led to the closure of 8,500 school classes, up from 4,100 last week.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, France’s education minister, announced at the news conference that classes would no longer close if one student tests positive, but that they will require that all students continue to be tested. Only those who test negative will be able to return, he said.
Hospitalizations — mainly of unvaccinated patients — have also been increasing, according to French health authorities.
Mr. Véran also urged the French to observe social distancing rules and guidelines. He announced that starting on Friday, masks would be mandatory indoors even for establishments or events that require a health pass, and that the pass would also be required to gain access to Christmas markets.
“We must remain vigilant at all times, get back to good habits,” Mr. Veran said.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gets people excited — at least judging by some of the responses I received when I posted on social media that last week that I would be marching with the Pikachu balloon.
Growing up, I often watched the parade on television. I have fond memories of a Sesame Street float, a vague recollection of one with Marvel heroes and villains, and I was always in awe of the Superman balloon (It turns out there were three. The last Man of Steel balloon made his final parade appearance in 1987.)
But as a child I never gave a second thought to what a production it must be to pull off a successful parade. A year and a half ago, I started looking for a way to participate. (I first tried to do it last year, but Covid curtailed the length of the parade, the balloons, the volunteers and the onlookers.)
I was brought into the ranks of balloon handlers — it almost feels like a whisper network, you need to know someone who knows someone — by a former colleague who had marched many times. I told her I was interested in joining in and she helped me become a volunteer on her team this year.
The sign-up process involved uploading my proof of vaccination, watching a training video in the proper care of balloon handling and more. I added a new phrase to my vocabulary: “handling bone.” That’s the device used to hold and tow the lines that ease the balloons down the parade route and, later, to the deflating area.
As a native New Yorker, I’m eager to take part in such a Big Apple experience, though it’ll be a long day, thankfully, if forecasts are correct, with mild weather. I need to check in at 7:15 a.m. and will likely not be done until after 12:30 p.m.
My one worry, as a momma’s boy, was being late to my family’s Thanksgiving lunch, a tradition which stems from a time when my sister and I worked evening shifts at The New York Times. But I dutifully visited my mother on Wednesday afternoon, asked her to keep an eye out for me on television and promised I would eat plenty when I arrived.
A giant, animatronic turkey is once again waddling down Central Park West at the head of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which returned on Thursday in its full, helium-filled glory.
Last holiday, the coronavirus forced officials to order a one-block long, nearly crowd-free version of the parade, which typically runs from 77th Street on the Upper West Side to Herald Square in Midtown Manhattan. The parade, which began in 1924 and is in its 95th iteration, has been canceled rarely, including during World War II.
Along the 2.5 mile route will stroll over 4,500 volunteers towing among them 15 giant helium balloons, old favorites like Smokey Bear, and newcomers like Ada Twist, Scientist, from the popular storybook, who clocks in at 51-feet tall.
The return of such sights — of large crowds, of public joy, of celebrities on floats and beloved characters transformed into balloons — felt deeply symbolic for many who anticipated the spectacle.
“Moments of celebration are important,” said Leroy Lamar, who came with his family to see the parade from Atlanta. “And it is important that we do them together.”
The 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday is notably different from last year’s limited celebration, which was reduced to just one block, with spectators discouraged from coming out.
Around 6,500 people will come together to work on this year’s parade, which will follow a 2.5-mile route through New York City, starting on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and ending in Midtown. Everyone who participates in the parade must be vaccinated, but there is no vaccination requirement for spectators.
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s festivities.
Who will broadcast the event?
The parade is being televised starting at 9 a.m. on NBC, Telemundo and the Peacock streaming service.
The “Today” show’s Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie are hosting the show, which will end at noon.
Where is the parade?
The parade started at 9 a.m. at West 77th Street and Central Park West, but there will be limited public viewing, or none at all, at that location.
Many fans arrived along the route hours earlier to get spots with unobstructed views of the performers. The best places for viewing the parade include Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Streets, and Sixth Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets.
Performers in the parade will include Jon Batiste, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Mickey Guyton and Carrie Underwood.
Some of the younger participants will include Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and a group of competitive rope jumpers. Ten high school and college marching bands — including the Hampton University Marching Force — will also fill the streets. (Children under 12 will not be allowed to participate in the parade itself this year but will be allowed as spectators.)
There will also be 15 giant balloons and 28 floats. Some of the balloons will be as high as four-story buildings or as wide as six taxicabs.
A balloon resembling Grogu — a character from “The Mandalorian” who is also known as Baby Yoda — will fly above the parade Thursday, the first time a “Star Wars” balloon will be part of the festivities.
Ada from the Netflix show “Ada Twist, Scientist”will also make her debut in balloon form this year. The pen tucked behind her ear is the length of 27 real pens lined up.
Pokémon is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new balloon of Pikachu and his friend Eevee sitting on a sleigh — the blades of which are about the same length as a semitrailer truck.
While McDonald’s has had a Ronald McDonald balloon in the parade since 1987, this year it will debut a new design. The balloon of Ronald McDonald will hold a giant red heart.
“Ronald is sharing his heart with us at a time when we all need some extra love,” the Macy’s website reads.
On Thursday, five members of the extended Dewar family stood on Central Park West at 81st Street in pastel pink and teal jumpsuits and hot pink wigs.
For nearly a decade, Raymond Dewar, the patriarch, had led them through the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But he died in 2020, the year the extravaganza was cut short because of the pandemic.
Now they’re marching to honor Mr. Dewar, said Monique Dewar, one of his daughters.
“We are so happy to be here,” she said, standing next to family members, who were beaming under their masks. “The only problem with the mask,” she said, was “no clown makeup this year.”
The Dewars were joined by thousands of others who had to skip the parade last year.
Minutes before the kickoff, Sergeant Gabriel Vazquez of the New York City Parks Department, sat on an American spotted draft horse named Apollo, holding up an American flag.
He hasn’t ridden in the parade in several years he said, but this year he couldn’t miss it.
Atop his horse, striding down the route, he said, “It’s like we are walking back toward normal.”
For a moment it seemed New York City was almost back to normal.
After the pandemic forced an attenuated, blocklong version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year, this year the iconic event was set to roar back to life, with the full complement of floats, balloons, and marching bands expected to parade on Thursday all along Central Park West to Herald Square.
And once 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, Smokey Bear and other balloonstars as they were filled with helium for the parade.
“Anyone wishing to see the inflation of the balloons must get off at this station,” a train driver for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said over the loudspeaker of an uptown C train as it pulled in to the 72nd Street subway station“This is where you see the balloons.”
Just up the subway stairs was another, less welcoming announcement. “Welcome to fascist New York!” an anti-vaccine demonstrator shouted repeatedly at the crowd, which included little children, parents, and veterans in wheelchairs, as they passed by on their way to view the balloons.
And as people streamed east on 71st Street, they were met by a gauntlet of people in red pinnies with “vax checker” written on their backs. The checkers asked everyone to show their identification and vaccination cards, and to put on a face mask.
On 81st Street, Diane Roberts, who works in media in Washington, D.C., was celebrating a what she called a milestone birthday a year late — she refused to say which one — with four best friends who were at last able to travel from around the country to be with her.
Just speaking about being able to see the parade brought tears to her eyes. She wasn’t bothered by the vaccine checkers, the crowd control or the necessity of masks. “It is a cloud over it but it but I still think it’s better to be here masked then not to be here at all,” she said.
A few blocks away was the Lamar family, visiting from Atlanta, Georgia, on their first family trip since the pandemic began more than 20 months ago. They were taking in a giant green dinosaur.“Moments of celebration are important,” Leroy Lamar, who runs a nonprofit organization, said.“And it is important that we do them together.”
The European Medicines Agency approved on Thursday the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, bringing European governments one step closer to inoculating young children.
The recommendation of the European Union’s drug regulator will now be sent to the European Commission, the bloc’s administrative arm, for final approval, which it is expected to do swiftly. It will then be up to the national health authorities to decide if and when they will start inoculating young children.
The decision comes amid a Covid spike across the bloc. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday that European governments should accelerate their vaccination rates, consider booster shots for adults and tighten restrictions in order to avoid a “very high burden” on national health care systems. Approximately 66 percent of the European Union’s total population has been fully inoculated, according to E.C.D.C. data.
All 27 member nations are now inoculating adolescents, according to the E.C.D.C.
The European Commission also proposed a nine-month period of validity of coronavirus vaccinations for travelers coming from outside and inside the bloc.
“It’s good to have a booster shot after the six months have expired,” Didier Reynders, the bloc’s commissioner for justice, told reporters on Thursday, citing evidence that the immunity provided by coronavirus vaccines wanes after six months. “These three months should allow national campaigns to be set up and for citizens to actually get the booster shot.”
E.U. citizens traveling between different member countries will be required to present a vaccination certificate, proof of recovery from the virus in the past six months or a negative test.
The proposal is expected to come into force on Jan. 10, pending approval from national governments.
The commission also proposed new rules for foreigners traveling from outside the bloc: Until now, nonessential tourists from a limited number of countries could enter the European Union regardless of their vaccination status. That list has been updated to include other criteria, including caseload and vaccination rates.
Canada’s health regulator on Wednesday granted full approval for Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, making Canada the first nation to do so.
The decision was made after a third phase of a study showed the shot was 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease and, starting 28 days after vaccination, from death.
“Today marks the first major regulatory approval for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and an important moment to recognize the dedication of everyone involved in our Covid-19 vaccine development, our partners, the regulators and clinical study participants,” said Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer.
Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States has not been as widespread as that of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and studies have found the Johnson vaccine provides less protection than the other two. In April, use of the vaccine came to a sudden halt after U.S. health agencies called for a brief pause so they could study a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six recipients.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson booster shots last month, despite concern among the F.D.A.’s expert advisory panel that data in the company’s application was limited and wasn’t independently verified.
Some F.D.A. experts and committee members argued that recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine needed an additional shot to bolster against severe Covid-19, since that vaccine was less effective than those of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
The F.D.A. discussed data with the committee showing that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was only roughly 70 percent effective against hospitalization, compared with around 90 percent for the Moderna and Pfizer shots. But other data, including from a study of nearly nine million people in New York State, found better results from a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, including for older Americans, by offering durable protection.
Many of those shots have been provided through a deal reached in May, under which Johnson & Johnson agreed to sell about 200 million doses to Covax at a discounted rate. Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the United States had negotiated a deal to ship additional doses of the vaccine overseas, to help people living in conflict zones.
The tragedy at a parade in Waukesha came less than a week from one of the country’s best known events: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Concern about intentional attacks on the parade have long driven law enforcement efforts to secure the route. And New York has seen vehicle ramming turn deadly at other crowded events in recent years.
But the scale of the Thanksgiving parade in New York is so large that it is difficult to draw comparisons, a law enforcement official said. The parade for years has been seen as a high-value target for extremist and terror groups.
“You can’t really take an incident that occurs at a holiday parade in a relatively small city and compare it to what we do in New York City for that event,” said John Miller, the deputy commissioner for the Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau.
The space around the parade is what is known as a “hardened route,” cordoned off from traffic by cars that block roads, sand-filled dump trucks and long gun teams, Mr. Miller said. The security measures include tools as mundane as metal barriers and as high-tech as radiation detectors fastened to the belts of police officers. And, the entire route is blanketed by the Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiatives, a surveillance dragnet that overlays tactics like license plate readers and video surveillance to secure Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
“We don’t worry. We plan,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s a better use of our time.”
Federal and state health officials have worked since March 2020 to build capacity to test, report and keep tabs on COVID-19 cases. Public health officials say reporting cases is critical for spotting trends and detecting surges so hotspot communities can lessen risk and prepare hospitals for a rush of people seeking care.
But it’s unclear how often customers report results from the dozen authorized home coronavirus tests that typically deliver results in 15 minutes outside a lab or doctor’s office. And public health’s data blind spot is poised to grow larger.
Private test manufacturers already make more home antigen tests than standard laboratory tests — and the gap could nearly double next month as new home tests flood the market.
— Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY
Also in the news:
►Beginning Monday, Massachusetts hospitals will have to cut back on non-urgent scheduled procedures due to staffing shortages and longer patient stays, according to the state’s health authorities.
►The number of air travelers this week is expected to approach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels, and auto club AAA predicts48.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday period.
►More than 100 children at a vaccination event in Iowa on Saturday were given the incorrect dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the hospital. A MercyOne spokesperson said there are no significant health risks associated with the larger dose, just a likelihood the children will have more severe versions of the common vaccine side effects
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 775,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 259 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59.1% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Just over nine out of ten federal employees have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the required deadline, the Biden administration announced Wednesday when releasing agency-by-agency vaccination rates.
Those rates were as high as 97.8% at the Agency for International Development. Workers at the Agriculture Department had the lowest rate: 86.1%.
Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get vaccinated or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike a rule the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine requirement if they agree to weekly testing.
Workers who are not in the process of getting vaccinated or seeking an exemption will begin a “period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement steps,” according to the White House.
— Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
European Unions’ drug regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for young children
The European Union’s drug regulator cleared the way for children ages 5 to 11 to begin receiving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Thursday amid a new wave of infections across the continent.
The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee, an EU agency in charge of the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products, concluded that the benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the risks. The European committee will send its recommendation to the European Commission next, which will issue a final decision.
Germany has been facing its worst surge of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, reporting more than 333,000 cases the week of Nov. 15, according to the World Health Organization. That’s nearly double the weekly rate reported during a prior surge in December 2020.
— Celina Tebor, USA TODAY
German Chancellor Angela Merkel labeled Thursday “a very sad day” and backed calls for more restrictions, as her country became the latest to surpass 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The national disease control agency said it recorded 351 deaths in connection with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass that mark, after Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
The longtime German leader, who is currently in office as caretaker until her successor is sworn in, warned that hundreds more deaths were already looming.
“(The deaths) correlate very clearly with the number of infections that are occurring,” she said. “We know how many people on average do not survive this disease.”
The Robert Koch Institute, a federal agency that collects data from some 400 regional health offices, said Germany set a record for daily confirmed cases — 75,961 — in the past 24-hour period. Since the start of the outbreak, Germany has had more than 5.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The country reported 665,420 cases in the week ending Monday, more than a 30% increase from the pace of cases reported about a month ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
As cases rise in 39 states, U.S. Health and Human Services data show hospitals in 32 states admitted more patients in the latest week than the week before.
“Quite frankly, I’m really concerned,” said Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “I would say we are better off than we were last year, but cases are starting to tick up and that is something that we really need to keep an eye on.”
After nearly two years of combating COVID-19, health experts thought the U.S. would have been in a better position to control the pandemic. Instead, many people remain unvaccinated and ignore mitigation measures, slowing the pace of progress and burning out health care professionals.
As families scramble to whip together delicious Thanksgiving meals, others are still hitting the road, running errands and trying to reach their destination to spend as much time with loved ones as possible.
This morning, News 12‘s Hannah Kliger was along the Belt Parkway to check out the traffic.
AAA says of all the travelers getting around the country the last few days – 90% of them are expected to be drivers.
Take extra care if you’re out on the roads the next few days – AAA predicts that nearly 400,000 drivers could become stranded over the holiday due to car malfunctions. Always best to check those things in advance before you head out for that long drive.