Going to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a lifetime dream of mine. I would spend every Thanksgiving morning watching the parade on TV, secretly wishing I was there to witness it first hand. And then one day I went and it was all worth the wait. Bucket list item check!
If you ever get the chance to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, just take it. You only need to go once to get the whole experience in. To hear the marching bands up close and to see the floats hover high above you; it’s something seeing it on TV does no justice.
I remember waking up at 5 in the morning so I could get a prime spot. I took the train uptown and got off at 42nd street and walked down a few blocks to find my spot. To my surprise, there were tons of people already lining up. I had to walk even further down midtown to find my spot. I will say this, if I ever come for the parade again I will get a hotel on the parade route and pay extra for the room with the view of the parade. Something about being in a heated room has a nice ring to it.
Another tip I discovered while waiting for the parade and you will be waiting; is that there are no restrooms. So if you can’t hold it, hope you go with someone who can hold your spot. I was the first one along the police barricade when I arrived and when I turned around an hour later there was a sea of people behind me. Maybe 10-15 rows deep of people. Trying to navigate that to find a restroom or something to eat is damn near impossible. That is why I say if I ever do it again, I will rent a hotel room.
The parade starts at 9am and depending on where you’re standing it may be a while before the parade gets to you. The exciting part was hearing the beating of the drums blocks away and how loud it would get closer to you. Or when the giant balloon floats swing around buildings and it still maybe 10-15 blocks away, but the balloons are so big that those 10-15 blocks feel like 2 blocks away. The sheer size of the balloons is amazing. Seeing them on TV doesn’t even come close to depicting their massive size or the number of people needed to control them along the parade route.
The Spiderman balloon along with the Smurfs, Ronald McDonald and Snoopy balloons are Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade staples. Just seeing them brought back all those memories of seeing them year after year on tv. Floats with singers and actors passing by with everyone waving and having a great time; that was the experience I wanted and had at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When the parade ends on TV, you just change the channel or turn the tv off. When you’re there in person, you have to wait for the sea of people behind you to disperse before you can even move. Forget about taking the trains as the stations are flooded with spectators. Same with hailing a cab as the streets are closed off by the parade route. I walked about 15 blocks before I grabbed a cab and headed back to the Financial District.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is something we all should experience in our lifetime. The sights and sounds will last with you forever. The childhood excitement you felt watching the parade on TV comes out of you as an adult as your gaze to the sky watching all the balloons pass you by. And how can anyone forget that once Santa Claus makes his appearance that it officially marks the beginning of the holiday season!