Published: Nov 24, 2011 5:24 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) - A festive mood prevails as the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade makes its way through the crowded streets of Manhattan.
    
The parade stepped off beneath brilliant sunshine Thursday morning.
    
The celebration includes two big balloons making their inaugural appearances: a jetpack-wearing monkey and a freakish creation from filmmaker Tim Burton.
    
In all, the parade features more than 40 balloon creations, 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders.
    
Stars on hand include Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne and the Muppets.
    
Joe Sullivan, a retired banker, held one of six nylon lines securing a huge floating pumpkin. He's been volunteering in the parade for more than 15 years.
    
Sullivan says the task is a struggle when it's windy. But this time, the weather is beautiful.

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