By Mathew Katz, Ben Fractenberg, Michael Ventura and Amy Zimmer
MIDTOWN — The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade wowed crowds from the Upper West Side to Herald Square on Thursday morning.
Millions lined the streets on the sunny, brisk morning to get a glimpse of some new ballons that joined the floating ranks, including Sonic the Hedgehog and a character designed by Tim Burton called B. Boy. Of course, old favorites such as Kermit the Frog, Snoopy and Spider-Man were back, too.
"Thanksgiving is about being a family, being together," said the Laruel family from New Jersey as they cheered on the floats. "It's our first time here and we're loving it!"
"I want to see a Smurf!" said Anthony Brechel, 12, who traveled from Cleveland, Ohio with his family for the parade. "I saw the movie. It was pretty cool."
Mary J. Blige and Cee Lo Green brought some star power to the annual parade celebrating its 85th year. There were 15 giant character balloons, 44 novelty balloonicles and balloonheads, and 27 massive floats — as well as 1,600 cheerleaders and dancers, 800 clowns, 11 marching bands and Santa Claus, along with a host of celebrities from Neil Diamond to Nickelodeon's The Fresh Beat Band and Avril Lavigne.
Becky Prokopets, 32, from Long Island, brought her 3- and 6-year-old kids. They came with friends and brought three 6 foot ladders.
"We brought the ladders because we've been here before and we know what it's like," said Prokopets, at 49th Street and Seventh Avenue, celebrating her fifth parade. "My kids are getting bigger and every year they enjoy it more."
She added: "We're six feet higher than everyone else, so it's worth it."
"We had to be here. I want to see a balloon," said Ellie Russell, 50, who traveled from Orange County, Calif. with her husband, Craig, 53, to see their 17-year-old daughter march in the parade. "They're bigger than we think. You don't get perspective on TV."
Jason Bigges, 39, from Iowa City, Iowa, lined up to watch the parade with wife and two kids at 6 a.m. "It's probably not worth it for me, but it is so my kids can see this," he said.
The weather, which was expected to reach 53 degrees, was practically balmy to him.
"I don't know what New Yorkers think cold is, but this is like springtime where I'm from," he said.
Janie Hernandez, of the Bronx, who arrived late at 10 a.m., scored a spot with a great view at 36th Street and Sixth Avenue next to a Chock full o'Nuts truck handing out free coffee, hot chocolate and other treats.
"I got the best spot ever," she said. "I don't understand why people would wake up at 5 a.m. to get here."
The festivities for the annual event started Wednesday night with the inflating of the balloons. Macy's expected 3.5 million spectators along the parade route with another 50 million watching on television.
Many people gathered at 40th Street and Seventh Avenue watching the floats being deflated after their runs.
'It looks like Spongebob crashed!' Dana Fergus, 5, shouted to her father, Pete, 31, as parade staff deflated the Spongebob Squarepants float.