For our third Thanksgiving in the USA, we decided to turn our backs on an all day eating fest and join one of the best loved traditions – so we went to New York to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. This also meant that we would be able to witness the arrival of Santa Claus / Father Christmas and welcome him for the unofficial kick-off of the Christmas season.
Seb and I caught the train up from Wilmington, and having learnt my lesson from several other forays into New York, my mind was firmly set on achieving just the one objective that day, namely seeing the gigantic parade balloons being inflated. Happily there was enough activity, along with cartoon heroes in enormous proportions, to keep even the most demanding five-year entertained for about an hour, after which we retired to the museum gift shop and emptied his piggy bank.
That night, over several beers, the next day was planned with minute precision. Momentous decisions were made on the best place to stand, which trains to catch and snacks were carefully selected or rejected on their innate ability to keep 5 and 3 year olds amused.
After an early and chilly start, along with others of a hardy nature, we settled on a place to spread our blanket (disposable if need-be) on the corner of 42nd and 6th, about 15 -20 people back. This location offered us a view of the snippet of the street. For a while, I did have a view of tiny portion of the street, until an inconsiderate person (ca 7 foot tall) barged his way directly in front of me. He must have thought he was in prime position, as no amount of tutting and hard stares into his coat made him budge an inch. Consequently, the visual spectacle of the parade mainly passed me by. I think this is why they have the balloons.
The balloons create a surreal vision colourfully drifting along between the grey and blue high-rise offices. Knowledge of their progress begins as a rumor in the crowd, before the noise of the cheer reaches your section, to be followed by the balloon itself. The crowd around you cheerfully shares their knowledge of who is which balloon, any particular trivia associated with a specific balloon, if they have been in the parade long or if they are new this year.
From my vantage point I did get to see the tops of several floats And feel the marching bands, with plenty of shiny, silver tubas and drums that feel louder than your heartbeat inside you. Seb was on his Dad’s shoulders most of the parade, and loved it so much he woke up the next morning saying: ‘I had a really fun time at the parade, mummy’.
All definitely worthwhile then!
My highlights of the parade (in no particular order):
- – seeing Santa on his sleigh and waving to him
– our particular section of the crowd spontaneously singing along to ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’
- – being there
We did get a turkey dinner in the end – so a pretty good Thanksgiving in all!
Happy Holiday season to all of you, I hope in the run up to the big day you will have some snippets of relaxation. If you manage it, let me know how you achieved it, as I never quite get it right!
More pictures here