NEW YORK (AP) – Hundreds of wannabe parade clowns were being trained Saturday by professionals from the Big Apple Circus to lend the nationally televised event “more humanity, more solid, heartfelt warmth, more one-on-one contact with people along the parade route,” said Liz Bolick, a professional clown with the troupe.

“We don’t want artificiality,” Bolick said.

On Nov. 23, the parade will be sprinkled with 800 amateur clowns, armed with flying confetti and blowing bubbles for 21/2 miles down Broadway. There’ll be everything from patriotic clowns to class clowns, all-star baseball clowns and banana-split clowns.

Parade clowns are volunteers, recruited by Macy’s employees, who have the privilege of contacting anyone they wish.

“I love the enthusiasm in this room,” said Barry Lubin, who plays Grandma clown at Big Apple Circus. “And I love the enthusiasm of New Yorkers. We the clowns are the binding thread. You represent every man, woman and child you go up to – the humanity that is the most important thing in the parade.”

The doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and teachers in the group also got some practical tips: Before they’re zipped into their clown suits, they should hit the bathroom. In addition, during the parade: No smoking, no sipping coffee or chewing gum, no cell phone calls.

“And no excessive drinking,” joked Sue Mazursky, a Macy’s vice president for corporate planning who has 11 family members participating in the parade.

The clowns are the only parade participants who have direct contact with the more than one million spectators expected along the route. Each time the parade stops for a few minutes, clown “captains” will honk a horn so each group of clowns will perform their act.

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