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How to watch the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live on NBC or free without cable

The parade will be smaller this year. The balloons will hopefully be just as exciting.

How to watch the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live on NBC or free without cable
[Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC]
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It goes without saying, but the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will look a bit different this year. The normal stretch of two and a half miles has been reduced to a small area around the company’s flagship store in New York City, and—thanks to the coronavirus pandemic—there will be no live audience.

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That’s the bad news. The good news is, you’ll still get the performances, the balloons, and even Santa Claus. Expect lots of local talent, including musical numbers from the casts of Broadway shows like Hamilton, Jagged Little Pill, and Mean Girls.

For cord-cutters who want to stream the 2020 Macy’s parade live on a computer, smartphone, or TV, it’s easier than ever to do that for free. The parade will air on the NBC broadcast network, but Verizon will offer a free live stream on its YouTube page. (The video is also embedded below.)

If you want to stream it live on NBC, there are plenty of ways to do that too. I’ve rounded up some options below.

Free ways to stream or watch NBC

  • Locast: This is a free nonprofit streaming service were you can watch broadcast networks in 23 markets. Find Locast here
  • OTA antennas: If you have an over-the-air antenna, they still work for NBC.

Stand-alone streaming services

NBC is available as part of a bundle on a number of streaming services. These are not free, but you can often get a free week if you haven’t singed up before:

Check your zip code before signing up to make sure NBC is available in your area.

NBC’s website and mobile apps

If you have login credentials from a pay-TV company, you can stream NBC live on the network’s website or via its mobile apps on iOS or Android.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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As Americans avoid flying, airport shops face economic disaster

On what’s traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, a big drop in airport traffic has been especially hard for businesses that cater to the middle-class jet set.

As Americans avoid flying, airport shops face economic disaster
[Photo: Xianjuan Hu/Unsplash]
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Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, LaDonnis Crump flew frequently—and shopped just as often. When he made his way through LAX or Istanbul Airport, he’d stop to buy electronics accessories (headphones, voltage convertors), clothing (Dior, Chanel, Prada), magazines (GQ, Travel + Leisure), and snacks (fruit cup, Snickers). Not to mention a meal at concourse restaurants.

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“I definitely would grab a drink, go shopping around—everything to kill time,” Crump says, recalling a time before the coronavirus pandemic. “All that’s closed off. You can’t dive in and have a full experience out of the airport.”

The 36-year-old Jersey City rapper estimates he’d spend as much as $200 per airport trip, but when he takes the occasional flight now, it’s in the $50-$75 range. “The restaurants and the bars are closed,” he sighs.

If the airports don’t come back to the traffic levels they had before, they can’t support the stores they had.”

Rob Wigington

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, as millions of Americans head out to share Turkey Day with loved ones. In 2019, for example, AAA forecasted that more than 55 million Americans would travel at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving, the second-highest level on record. This year, however, the number of people flying for Thanksgiving has been cut in half—and may continue to decline as more bookings are cancelled.

Amid a deadly spike in COVID-19, the decline in holiday travel is especially dispiriting for the myriad of businesses that line airport terminals: duty-free shops, restaurants, bars, newsstands, local boutiques, souvenir peddlers, and salons.

Experts and officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have encouraged people to stay home for the holidays—and rightly so. But the economic fallout may be severe. According to the Airport Restaurant & Retail Association, these businesses are expecting to lose some $3.4 billion by the end of 2021.

That’s a lot of cowboy-boot magnets, chair massages, and artisanal pita chips.

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Airport businesses are hurting

“It pretty much matched the plummeting numbers that we were seeing,” says ARRA executive director Rob Wigington. “If the airports don’t come back to the traffic levels they had before, they can’t support the stores they had.”

In some cases, the passengers might not even be near the open businesses, as airports close down entire concourses and shift airlines to different gates to consolidate. Certain concessionaires have closed down temporarily, while others have had to cut the number of employees due to social-distancing rules.

For those who have decided to risk flying, there is also the question of whether to venture into the smaller space of a store, where social distancing may be difficult, if not impossible. (Airport real estate is very expensive, so retail footprints are a fraction of what they’d be in the outside world.) With the slashing of business budgets, do frequent fliers still have hefty expense accounts to use before, after, or between flights? Are nonbusiness travelers concerned about their own employment enough to be cut back on what they spend at airport concessions?

“The other big challenge, even for passengers coming through airport, is how willing are they to stop and go into stores,” Wigington explains. “Even if passengers are flying, it’s not what it was or what the companies need to sustain themselves.”

Fewer travelers, less spending

Before COVID-19, HMSHost—a food-services company that partners with brands including California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s Too, and Tim Hortons—was earning an estimated $2.4 billion in revenue from U.S. airports. Sales are now down to 65% of what they were, according to president and CEO Steve Johnson.

Doing business at airports has changed. The Bethesda, Maryland-based company previously had its restaurants and convenience stores open from 4 a.m. until 12 a.m.; now, hours are generally limited to 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. As a percentage of its sales, the travel-amenities giant is doing more alcohol sales than pre-COVID. Its 1,600 store employees pre-pandemic are now down to around 640 due to furloughs and layoffs in North America.

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“Traditional food and beverages is performing worse than convenience retail,” says Johnson. “Convenience retails seems safer, more natural. People go in, everything packaged versus a hamburger at Shake Shack and coffee at Starbucks.”

Small retailers at airports are feeling the pinch, too. Ethel M Chocolates, whose entire airport presence consists of three locations in Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, has seen its year-over-year sales drop 60%, according to spokeswoman Lisa Vannerson.

The Henderson, Nevada-based company says their McCarran shoppers are locals who want a sweet favorite, tourists buying gifts for people back home, and business travelers craving a nice treat for their flights. To snag a piece of what little airport spend remains, Ethel M now puts its samples in cellophane bags and takes phone orders in advance to deliver to the buyer at the storefront.

“It’s all about putting the customer at ease,” Vannerson says. “Historically, we would see a spike on that Wednesday, like hostess gifts and a spike when they leave, a gift whether for the dog sitter or their kids.”

Retail meets the runway

The airport terminal wasn’t always a shopping mall. When airports first sprung up in earnest in the post-World War II years, they were purely transactional, like bus depots and train stations. But as passenger numbers began to increase in the decades that followed, they expanded their pre- and post-flight offerings. In the 1980s, airports began adding upscale food offerings, and by the end of the century, high-quality retail was widespread. Rent from restaurants, bars, specialty shops, designer retail, and salons created a major new revenue stream for airports.

Today, of course, it’s standard to expect $9 bottles of water, $20 bland sandwiches, and scarves that might as well cost a kidney. And it’s not all extortion. While airport businesses have the benefit of a captive audience, they’re also spending more to operate: rent and insurance costs are sky-high, as are the fees paid to suppliers who must comply with stringent security measures.

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All that is made possible by consistent foot traffic. Or it was, anyway, until the pandemic.

“Concessionaires are not subsidized by anyone,” explains Jeffrey Price, a professor of aviation management at Metropolitan State University of Denver, who points out that airport businesses definitely see a spike with the start of the holidays now. “They’re really independent businesses. So go the airlines, so goes the rest of  the industry.”

And while some independent businesses have been kept afloat by Good Samaritans who try to shop locally, there’s been no groundswell of support for suffering airport boutiques.

Crump, the rapper, says he goes out of his way to spend money at local small businesses in his New Jersey community, because he feels an obligation to help his neighbors. That’s not the case when he’s flying home to visit family in Atlanta this holiday season.

“It’s capitalism, especially if your business is in an airport,” says Crump. “I view it as you win some and you lose some and you have to know what kind of business you’re getting into.”

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I can’t believe I have to say this, but there is no war on Thanksgiving, just a war on COVID-19

The right has turned the push to celebrate the holiday virtually into the latest manifestation of the culture wars.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but there is no war on Thanksgiving, just a war on COVID-19
[Photo: rawpixel; muhnaufals/Pixabay]
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The worst part of Thanksgiving used to be having enough relatives and booze in a small room that a political disagreement was bound to break out.

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This year, with the holiday falling amidst the most devastating COVID-19 surge since the spring, the worst part of Thanksgiving is having enough relatives and booze in a small room that a superspreader event is bound to break out.

What makes it an even more galling prospect, however, is the fact that so many high-profile Republican politicians and pundits have turned this Thanksgiving into yet another battle in the culture wars. According to them, if you’re not defiantly flouting safety guidelines to celebrate with extended family in person, you are a bad patriot who caved in to the libs.

Last year, the idea of a war on Thanksgiving was mostly a joke.

Donald Trump had made the holiday into a cultural flashpoint, claiming that “some people” wanted to change the name Thanksgiving to something less offensive, much the same way they wanted to abolish Christmas, because of course he did. He’s Donald Trump. That’s just what he does.

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It was a typically ridiculous Boomer-bait gripe that would inevitably subside whenever Trump landed upon a new beloved holiday that liberals were trying to cancel. (Some people are trying to take away your New Year’s Eve because they hate kissing and expensive cab rides!)

The supposed War on Thanksgiving was easy enough to ignore, and most people did. But ignoring it this year is not an option. All of the Republicans defiantly celebrating in-person, germ-adjacent Thanksgivings on Thursday, November 26, present a grave threat to not just themselves, but also their entire communities, along with America’s already overwhelmed healthcare workers.

From the very beginning of this pandemic, Trump and his supporters/enablers have been more demonstrably upset about efforts to curb the pandemic than they have been about the pandemic itself. “The cure can’t be worse than the problem,” Trump has said many times, presumably because using the word “disease” would be too on-the-nose.

While he and like-minded politicians and pundits have seemingly worked harder to incubate distrust in the disease experts than to fight the disease, America has been rocked to the core by a second wave everyone saw coming but nobody at the highest levels of government lifted a finger to prevent.

And now, right on schedule, Trump and his cohort are acting aggrieved at the idea of skipping one Thanksgiving because the entire country is in an Uncontrolled Spread state of COVID-19 saturation.

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These people are acting as though asking folks to do a virtual Thanksgiving one time is impinging on religious liberties. They are suggesting that Thanksgiving is more than a family tradition and a food festival, but rather some sacred tribute to the grade school version of our mythic Pilgrim fantasy. Senator Tom Cotton is even using it as a disgusting way to suggest that Ilhan Omar, who fled a Somalian civil war for America as a child, should feel grateful for ever being allowed into this great, COVID-coated country.

And this kind of shaming about feeling grateful for the land of plenty is especially rich coming from a Republican Senator right now, considering how many people are going to suffer this Thanksgiving directly because talks broke down around a second COVID-19 stimulus bill—all so the Senate could rush Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court just before the election. 

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Other conservatives are blending the distrust of COVID-19 restrictions with the same War on Thanksgiving rhetoric Trump was using last year, implying that some are canceling the holiday this year just to show how much they hate families, and fun, and the American way.

But none of that is true. There is no broad-spanning hatred toward Thanksgiving on the left. Any suggestions to the contrary are part of the ongoing conservative project to divide the country into Real Americans and The Other. It’s been going on since before Bill O’Reilly started losing his mind every year about people saying “Happy Holidays” sometimes instead of “Merry Christmas.” It’s hit an apex in the Trump era and it’s bound to continue in the Biden administration, when the right-wing settles back into its comfort zone as the opposition mode. But there is something that is both vicious and utterly amoral about making the common sense of exposing fewer people to coronavirus this holiday season a  culture issue.

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There is no war on Thanksgiving; just a war on the pandemic.

And if you’re flouting safety regulations as a matter of principle, you’re fighting on the pandemic’s side.

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Moderna chief medical officer: Vaccinated adults could still infect the unvaccinated with COVID-19

The vaccines ‘do not show that they prevent you from potentially carrying this virus . . . and infecting others.’

Moderna chief medical officer: Vaccinated adults could still infect the unvaccinated with COVID-19
[Photo: RF._.studio/Pexels]
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We’ve gotten three incredibly good pieces of news in as many weeks when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the last three weeks saw the announcement that another SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has shown promising results and is waiting on regulatory approval so distribution can begin. For some, like front-line healthcare workers, the vaccine could be delivered as early as December. But for most, it’ll be late spring to summer before the mass rollout of vaccinations begins. Yet even then, things may not “get back to normal” as quickly as we’re all hoping it would once a vaccine became available.

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That’s the sobering warning from Moderna’s chief medical officer Tal Zaks. Moderna was the second firm to announce their vaccine has shown an almost 95% efficacy rate, which means that almost 95 of every 100 people who receive the vaccine will be protected against COVID-19.

The problem is, it is yet unknown if any of the three vaccines—including Moderna’s—will make the transmission of the virus from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person impossible. Or, to put it another way, it’s possible that even vaccinated people will be able to still infect unvaccinated people with COVID-19.

As Zaks told Axios, while Moderna’s and other’s vaccines do appear to prevent people from getting “severely sick” from COVID-19, “[t]hey do not show that they prevent you from potentially carrying this virus . . . and infecting others.”

Zaks’s comments echo the comments made by one of the founders of BioNTech, which developed a COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer. As my colleague Adele Peters reported this week, professor Ugur Sahin noted that the vaccines may not completely prevent the spread of the disease. Yet still, it’s not a completely either/or situation. The vaccines, Sahin said, could prevent some infection. “I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine—maybe not 90% but maybe 50%—but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread,” Sahin noted.

In other words, the vaccines could still be found to prevent some spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—but right now the data isn’t conclusive. But if the vaccines do turn out to only prevent the severe complications of COVID-19 and do not prevent the vaccinated from spreading the disease to others, “getting back to normal” is going to take a lot longer than hoped. That’s because the vaccinated, while safe themselves, could still be a danger to others who have yet to be vaccinated. And if that’s the case, social distancing, mask-wearing, travel restrictions, and other precautionary actions—even lockdowns—will still be needed until almost everyone on the planet has been vaccinated, too.

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Thanksgiving travel hits record numbers, despite COVID warnings

Despite the CDC’s urging to Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving travels, airport screenings have hit an eight-month high.

Thanksgiving travel hits record numbers, despite COVID warnings
[Source Photos: Unsplash]
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been urging Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving travels, but airport screenings have hit an eight-month high.

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That means millions of people are already on their way to the far-flung homes of family and friends.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than one million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints across the country on both Friday and Sunday. On Saturday, more than 984,000 travelers made their way through airport screenings.

Those numbers are significantly lower than last year (On November 22, 2019, more than 2.3 million travelers passed through airport security, according to TSA), but they mark a record high for airline travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunday’s total of 1,047,934 travelers is the highest the TSA has seen since March 16, when 1.2 million people came through TSA checkpoints.

March 16 was also the date that American Airlines would begin cutting capacity for its international long-haul flights by 75%—the largest reduction announced at that point by a U.S. carrier—and that the Trump administration released guidelines that said gatherings should be limited to 10 people.

Eight months and more than 250,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths later, officials still recommend avoiding large gatherings. With new COVID-19 cases climbing to nearly 200,000 a day, the CDC has said that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is “at home with people who live with you.”

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has passed through a TSA checkpoint this weekend, the CDC reminds you to always wear a mask in public, stay six feet apart from others, wash your hands often, and, on Thanksgiving, bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.

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