Well before we first watched Miracle on 34th Street with my mother, she has longed to visit New York and holiday shop at Macy’s. She has traveled the world throughout her life but it wasn’t until this week that I was able to join her on her first-ever trip to The Big Apple. The purpose was to see the sights, visit famous landmarks, experience the city, shop for Christmas gifts, and — the cherry on top — watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
After reading some tips online, I knew we inevitably had to wake up pretty early in order to get a good spot along the parade route. It began up on 77th Street and Central Park West where there was a festival the night before as the giant balloons were blown up. We attempted to stop by there at around 6:00pm (the festival was 3:00pm to 10:00pm) and I can only compare it to “fireworks night” in Vancouver. There were easily a million people lining up to get a glimpse at the balloons that were inflated and held under netting. We walked around for a bit but eventually retired to our hotel to rest up for the big day and the main event.
Leaving our room at 6:00am on Thanksgiving morning we got to the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue at around 6:20am and there was already a line of people along the curb with NYPD officers getting the roads clear and barriers setup. A woman at the front told us that her family arrived at 5:00am to get that coveted spot. We lucked out and ended up being right in the front row on 42nd Avenue, just around the corner from 6th Avenue where the parade came straight down from the park. Bryant Park was right across the street.
There were so many NYPD personnel that they almost seemed a part of the parade. We thoroughly enjoyed listening in on their conversations about the Police Academy, the tightness of their security vests, and how one should properly wear a scarf — especially when there were several captains in the area in full dress. They were diligent, in good spirits, and had a huge task to take on with the amount of attention the parade drew. Kudos to them for doing a fantastic job at keeping everyone safe.
42nd Street was open to traffic so cars were being waved through during breaks in the parade. Every few minutes we’d spot Kermit the Frog’s hand, Mickey Mouse’s hat, or Pikachu’s ears floating down 6th and traffic would be stopped again to let the parade flow on by. We were very pleased with our position however my only regret is not facing the parade head-on to see the banners that preceded each float. However, there’s so much going on overhead, you don’t necessarily even need a front-row view to enjoy the festivities.
If you’re going to do the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the future, I recommend the following:
- Scope out your spot the day before to get an idea of where you would like to setup for the morning. The parade goes from 77th and Central Park West to Central Park South (59th Street) and turns down 6th Avenue, ending at Macy’s on 34th Street.
- Bundle up! You’ll be outside for about 5 hours so be sure to dress accordingly.
- If you do want those front-row views from the curb you will have to be out there before 6:00am.
Most restaurants are open following the parade but many shops (like Macy’s) will be closed for the holiday, opening in the morning for Black Fright specials.
The woman next to us was visiting from Baltimore and the little girls on the other side of us were just there to see Santa, who brought up the tail end of the whole procession. The family will love this free activity if you’re in New York for the holidays. Kids will call out their favourite characters, spot pop stars on floats, and hot chocolate in the part if the perfect treat post-parade. View the rest of my photos from the parade in my set on Flickr.