Thanksgiving parade kicks off in NYC amid tight security

The parade features nine giant balloons including a 75-foot tall Cat in the Hat.

The 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade got rolling Thursday morning, cheered by millions of revelers and under the watchful eye of thousands of New York's finest.

Sixteen character balloons, 27 novelty/ornament balloons, 26 floats, 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers, more than 1,000 clowns and 16 marching bands and performance groups made their way down the 2.5-mile parade route.

Eighty-one sanitation trucks, previously parked outside of Trump Tower to protect the president-elect, line the parade route from 77th Street on the Upper West Side to 34th Street in midtown, where the parade ends. "I think this year, you're going to see a lot more block cars and sand trucks on the cross-streets". According to CBS News, more than 80 New York City sanitation trucks were filled with salt and sand and used as a physical barrier to block intersections and other strategic locations along the parade route from potential vehicular threats.

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In addition to more than 3,000 uniformed and plainclothes officers, bomb-sniffing dogs and officers with assault weapons and portable radiation detectors walked among the crowds. But windy conditions at the 1997 Macy's parade turned him into a purple Godzilla, stomping around Manhattan and terrifying children watching on the sidelines. Among the returning big balloons are Thomas the Tank Engine, Hello Kitty and SpongeBob SquarePants.

An estimated crowd of three million was on hand in NY while an additional 50 million people watched the parade on NBC.