The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has signaled the start of the holiday season for nearly 100 years. It draws 3 million people in person in New York City, and more than 50 million on television. There are stars who sing and dance, marching bands and balloons. Big balloons. This year’s version of the parade is set to go off Thursday in New York City with a cast of more than 8,000. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s parade. What time does it start? 9 a.m. ET. It is scheduled to last until noon. What channel is it on? The parade is broadcast on NBC. How long is the parade route? 2.5 miles What is the parade route? The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. It moves south on Central Park West, and at Columbus Circle, it turns east onto Central Park South. When the parade reaches 6th Avenue, it turns south on to 34th Street. At 34th Street it turns west to Macy's Herald Square and ends at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. When was the first Macy's Thanksgiving day parade? The first parade was held on Christmas in 1924. Which balloons will we see this year? Angry Birds’ Red Ice Age’s Scrat and his Acorn Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Sinclair’s Dino Hello Kitty Pillsbury the Doughboy Ronald McDonald Trolls SpongeBob SquarePants Pikachu The Elf on the Shelf Charlie Brown Diary of a Wimpy Kid Super Wings’ Jett Paw Patrol’s Chase The Grinch Frozen’s Olaf Novelty Balloons Charlie, Kit & C.J. Holiday Elves Harold the Policeman Yellow Star Pumpkins Harold the Baseball Player Rex the Happy Dragon Cloe the Clown Christmas String of Lights Candy Cane Blue Ornament Red and Gold Macy’s Star What about the floats? There will be 31 floats in the parade. Who is performing? Gwen Stefani 98 Degrees Sara Evans Andra Day Cam Common Dustin Lynch Wyclef Jean Goo Goo Dolls Smokey Robinson Kat Graham The Radio City Rockettes Olivia Holt JoJo Siwa Andy Grammer Miss America Cara Mund Leslie Odom Jr. Padma Lakshmi Tom Colicchio Angelica Hale Bebe Rexha Lauren Alaina Nicky Jam Sabrina Carpenter Patti LaBelle Marching Bands There are 12 marching bands in the parade. They are: Nation Ford High School Band West Harrison High School NYPD Marching Band U.S. Air Force Colony High School Band Ohio University Marching Band Rockford High School Marching Band Macy’s Great American Marching Band Prairie View A&M Marching Storm Rosemount High School Marching Band Davis High School Marching Band Trumbull High School Parade History According to the New York Tourist Commission, the inaugural Macy's Day Parade took place on Christmas 1924 and had an audience of 250,000 people. There were no giant balloons until 1927 when Felix the Cat showed up. The parade was first broadcast on radio in 1932. The Balloons The balloons are filled with 12,000 cubic feet of helium. They are inflated the day before Thanksgiving at the American Museum of National History from 3 p.m. -10 p.m. Some numbers On average, 300 bands a year apply for the 12 slots in the parade Those handling the balloons, 30 to 100 of them for each balloon, are volunteers. It takes 15 minutes to deflate the balloon.