Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – Part 1: Balloons

Who is it that does not love a parade?

  • Very short people
  • People who cannot stand the coldest parade day since 1901
  • People who can’t stand crowds
  • People who hate other people who wear large backpacks in crowded spaces
  • People who can’t stand being pleasantly told by hundreds of police “no, you can’t cross here”

Well, ignore them. It’s a parade. A special parade that’s been going on since 1924 when Macy’s transferred the parade from Newark, NJ where it had been conducted by Louis Bamberger. Mr. Bamberger was an interesting figure in his own right, though he gets only a brief mention in the Macy’s Parade legend. According to Wikipedia (what else?), Bamberger was Newark’s leading citizen from the early 1990s. With his sister, he founded the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. When he passed away in 1944, Newark’s flags were lowered to half-staff for three days and his department store closed for a day.

But, I digress. Now back to the present. We decided we had to experience this in full. This meant that the first step was to attend the balloon inflation on the Upper West Side the night before the parade. These balloons are enormous and, therefore, cannot simply be inflated the morning of the parade that steps off at 9:00 am. The Macy’s website said to take the 1 train to West 78th Street and enter the queue to see the balloons.

The website did not, however, explain that the “queue” started on West 73rd Street and to get to the “queue,” it was necessary to walk, with about a million other people, down Central Park West from 79th to 73rd. Except, and there is always an ‘except’ when a million people choose to do the same thing at the same time, you can’t just walk down there. If that were the case, you would have exited the subway at West 72nd and just walked to 73rd.

No, it was actually like queuing up for a Disneyland ride. We shuffled (you can’t call it walking) from 79th toward 73rd, but were turned around at around 75th (?) to shuffle back in the direction we came from, then turned again to repeat the process, all the while jammed between metal barricades the police had installed to keep the crowd together and moving in the right direction(s).

So, after zigzagging back and forth for some time, we heard an announcement that the “viewing will end at 8:00 pm” which also contradicted the website. It was now 7:45 and there was no balloon in sight. And, to quote Jean Paul Sartre, there was “no exit.” So, ever hopeful, we continued shuffling until we reached a crossing street. We had reversed course so many times by then, that I didn’t know what street we were on. The snow/sleet/mixed precipitation had stopped (did I mention that when we exited the subway, it was snowing/sleeting/mixed precipitating?)

n any case, on the crossing street, the objects of our hearts desire came into view. The crowd went into a frenzy, taking group photos with iPhones in front of the balloons that were encased in netting to keep them from blowing away before the parade even started. There were big balloons, very big balloons and gigantic balloons. One was leaking and being repaired by a crew.

I, of course, took some pictures too, set out below, and we headed home to prepare for the actual parade on Thanksgiving Day. More about that in the next post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s