The 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will take over New York City this thursday as millions of people flood the city or tune in to watch on TV or via livestream. Here's everything you need to know about the annual parade of floats, giant balloon characters, celebrity performers and marching bands.

The 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade starts this Thursday at 9 AM EST at 77th street and Central Park West, and continues for about three hours until it reaches the Herald Square at approximately noon.

For info on the official parade route head here.

You can watch the parade on both NBC and CBS live starting at 9 AM. Together, the stations are expecting over 50 million viewers on thursday. NBC is also offering an internet live stream for watching along online. The live stream features eight different camera's to choose from: ParadeCam, StreetCam, North View, South View, Crossroads, Bird's Eye View and CrowdCam.

You can also download the official Macy's Parade app on an Apple device or through the iTunes store for extra info and fun facts about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012

2012 Macy's Day Parade Lineup:

Expect to see tons of floats, clowns, marching bands and performance groups as well as lots of huge balloons designed to look like all your favorite cartoon characters. Among this year's offerings are:

Hello Kitty, Elmo, Kermit the Frog, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Spongebob Squarepants, Julius, Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda, Ronald McDonald, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Pikachu, Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse, Sonic the Hedgehog, Betty Boop and Felix the Cat.

The balloon selection attempts to mix old and new favorite characters so that there's something for everyone at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"A great thing about the parade balloons is that they are the most recognizable characters in the world," said spokesman Orlando Veras. "Betty Boop or Felix the Cat - we might not all have been around when they were really popular, but we understand the pop culture significance of them."

Sadly, Snoopy (Charlie Brown's dog) will not appear in the 2012 parade despite being featured in 36 of the past 86 Macy's Thanksgiving Parades.

The NYC parade also features over 20 orate floats, featuring themes like Sesame Street, the Gift of Freedom and The Big Apple. You can also expect to see the NYPD Marching Band, the Spirit of American Dance troupe and the Mannheim Steamroller in action.

The full list of celebrity guests at the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will not be announced until Wednesday, just a day before Thanksgiving. Last year's parade featured a umber of stars, including Cee Lo Green, Neil Diamond, Avril Lavigne and Mary J. Blige.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition stretches back to 1924, when the first parade was organized by a group of Macys employees and floats were pulled by horses. In 1927 the parade was given it's official name; that year also saw the introduction of the first helium balloons used in the parade: Felix the Cat and a toy soldier.