NEW YORK -- Balloons, bands and dignitaries trooped through midtown Manhattan Thursday morning for the 85th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
With clear skies and 40-degree temperatures, an estimated 3 million people lined the parade route.
Balloons drifting along the two-mile route Thursday morning included Buzz Lightyear, Clumsy Smurf, Ronald McDonald, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Aflac Duck Balloonicle.
An "ooh" came over the crowd when the SpongeBob SquarePants balloon passed West 65th Street and Central Park West. Perhaps the loudest cheers came for Mickey Mouse.
Nearby, parents held up their children while standing on construction scaffolding for a peek at the passing parade.
The Conway family of Albany, N.Y., hoping to avoid a repeat of last year when members could barely see the parade, brought ladders and a wooden plank.
The family balanced the plank on the ladders and stood tall, towering over fellow parade goers.
"The Sonic float was awesome!" cheered young Luke Conway, 13, standing with his mother Tammy, 41, his sister Claire, 11, and his dad Tom, 46.
Asked what time the family got to the parade, Luke interrupted his father's answer of 8 o'clock in the morning: "Way too early," the youth said.
Joe Harrington, a general-practice physician, and his wife, Noreen, a clinical psychologist, from outside Boston, came to the parade with their three sons--Joe, 12, Kevin, 10, and Owen, 4, all snug in winter coats.
Too small to see the parade route, the elder Joe Harrington held Owen aloft for a better view. The other boys sat on the asphalt looking up at the balloons passing by.
Young Joe said he laughed when the Ronald McDonald float passed by with a deflated foot. "People screamed, so we thought it was Justin Bieber!" he said.
Alas, it was only the disabled hamburger-joint mascot.
The parade is an extravaganza broadcast on television and is seen by an estimated 50 million viewers.