Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade delights New York post-Sandy

A crowd watches the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday morning, bringing the traditional extravagance and holiday cheer to a city still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Macy's sponsored 5,000 tickets and provided transportation to the parade for Sandy victims to watch the 86th annual parade, the second-oldest in the country (the oldest is Philadelphia's ABC6 Dunkin' Donuts Parade, originally the Gimbel's Parade). Around 3.5 million people gather to watch nearly 30 parade floats, 1,500 dancers and cheerleaders, more than 750 clowns, and several marching bands from around the country weave their way through New York City, according to NYC Tourist.

“The New York Daily News big apple float has been a part of the parade for about 25 years now,” Matt Lauer said during the broadcast of the parade on NBC. “It features such famous landmarks as the Chrysler and Empire State buildings and captures the vitality of the city that never sleeps.”

More from GlobalPost: Macy’s gives 5,000 Thanksgiving parade tickets to Hurricane Sandy victims