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Charlie Brown Leads Way in Macy’s Parade

November 28, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Bundled in blankets and toting thermoses of cocoa and coffee, spectators cheered Thursday as Charlie Brown, Big Bird and other giant balloons lumbered down Broadway in the 76th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

``I’m jumping out of my body, I’m so excited!″ said Maggie Toth, 20, of Groton, Conn. ``I’ve watched the parade ever single year on TV, but I never thought I’d come to it.″

In the 2002 parade lineup were Nickelodeon’s ``Little Bill,″ the parade’s first African-American balloon, and a float commemorating the 100th birthday of the teddy bear.

As a child living in Buffalo, Suzette Samson, a traveling nurse, had come to the parade with her parents. She made sure she was stationed in New York City over Thanksgiving so she and her adult children and their spouses could be there.

``It’s history repeating itself,″ said Samson, who was wearing a Santa Claus hat and had positioned her family’s folding chairs over a steam grate. ``It’s a little smelly, but it’s warm.″

The temperature was in the 20s, with a light breeze. Under guidelines adopted after a 1997 accident that severely injured a spectator, the balloons would have been grounded if the wind had been strong.

The cold did not diminish 7-year-old Manuel DeJuan’s enthusiasm after his family traveled from San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the parade.

``Hey! Look at that one, Papa!″ he exclaimed, pointing to a float featuring crocodiles and elephants. ``It’s great.″

The Lubit family of Kinnelon, N.J., made it for the 23rd straight year. Beverly Lubit said she prefers giving up the comforts of home to stand in a crowd.

``I have to have frozen feet,″ she said. ``It’s better to be outside. It’s part of the whole experience.″

Last year’s parade was filled with patriotic floats and tributes to heroism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. This year’s event, broadcast nationally on NBC, was a return to a more traditional format, said the parade’s producer, Robin Hall.

Still, new attractions included a 33-foot-high showboat float.

Charlie Brown was the first of 14 giant helium balloons to enter the parade, chasing his elusive football all along the route in his first appearance in the event.

``We’ve had five different Snoopys in the history of the parade, but we’ve never had Charlie Brown. ... So we’re really, really thrilled to have him,″ Hall said.

Besides Charlie Brown, other balloons that debuted in the parade included a mustachioed Mr. Monopoly. Kermit the Frog returned after a 12-year absence.

Santa and his reindeer came last but not least in the parade, which also featured 1,000 cheerleaders, 500 clowns, 25 floats and 12 marching bands.

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On the Net:

Macy’s Parade: http://www.macysparade.com/

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