The parade followed the route it inaugurated last year, starting on Central Park West and proceeding down Seventh and Sixth avenues to 34th Street. The route had to be changed when vehicles were banned from parts of Broadway.
Workers had removed street lights and traffic lights to make way for the massive balloons and were standing by to replace the equipment.
"As soon as Santa Claus drives by, the poles go back up," said Tom Carola, a worker with an electrical-contracting company hired by the city.
In Detroit, a morning drizzle and chilly temperatures weren't enough to keep John and Matt Fisher from attending that city's parade.
The father and son from Hamtramck, Mich., had their RV set up a day ahead of time and by Thursday morning had a prime spot for watching it — equipped with coffee, hot cocoa, soup and chili dogs.
"Got to see Santa," said John Fisher, 53. "If we don't see Santa, we're not sure he's gonna bring presents."
A block away, a German exchange student was watching his first Thanksgiving parade.
"This is great," said Jonah Boyd, 16, of Hamburg, who didn't know much about the American holiday before arriving in South Lyon, Mich., where he is staying with a host family. "All I knew was that people ate turkey."
Before the parade, Boyd, his girlfriend and her family watched thousands of runners take part in the annual Turkey Trot race. A similar race in Buffalo, N.Y., attracted more than 12,000 entrants, the most ever in the event's 115-year-history, organizers said.
Many participants in Detroit wore costumes: One ran in a Santa suit, complete with sack. An elf was spotted as well. Others were wearing Halloween-type outfits, including runners dressed as Iron Man and Captain America.
Perhaps the most appropriate attire belonged to the two Turkey Trotters wearing turkey hats.
Associated Press writer Mike Householder in Detroit contributed to this report.
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