NEW YORK — There'll be some monkeying around at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when Paul Frank's sock puppet-inspired simian Julius makes its debut in front of millions of spectators.
Sporting a jetpack, the 41-foot-tall Julius joins 14 other giant balloons, including fellow newcomer B., a freakish creation from filmmaker Tim Burton, and video game character Sonic the Hedgehog returns after an 18-year absence.
Macy's parade also is expected to feature more than 40 other balloon creations, 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders. Organizers say Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne and the Muppets of Sesame Street will participate, some taking the stage at the end of the route in Herald Square and others performing on floats.
About 3.5 million people are expected to crowd the parade route today, while an additional 50 million watch from home.
The parade got its start 87 years ago in 1924, and included live animals such as camels, goats and elephants. In 1927 the live animals were replaced by giant helium balloons. The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 because rubber and helium were needed for World War II.