Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Love a Parade. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - Bucket List Item Completed

Who doesn’t love a parade?  Truth be told, I was never a parade person and if I’ve seen 2 in my lifetime, I’d be surprised.  That is, not counting TV as I grew up watching at least a portion of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.  And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve thought about seeing it in person just once.  The opportunity arose this year and my husband and I packed a minivan, loaded the kids and headed to New York City the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

As Wednesday approached, there were some hurdles thrust in our way.  A nasty storm was hitting the east coast with torrential rains and wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour.  There was talk of the big balloons being grounded because of these winds.  Traffic was expected to be horrific as this was the busiest travel day of the year.   But this was one of my bucket list items.  I was not daunted and just knew it would work out.  (I also prayed a lot)!  And we drove right in with only a couple of miles of bumper to bumper traffic in Bridgeport and Stamford, CT.   There were only sprinkles of rain and not much wind. We sailed into Brooklyn with virtually no traffic and checked in our suite at the Box House Hotel. 

Once unpacked and kids fed, we took a subway to the Museum of Natural History where the balloons were being inflated.  People were in a festive mood.  We took photos of families for them, they took photos for us.  Music played and people sang along as we walked along the street pausing long enough to gaze at the massive balloons and take a photo here and there.   There was a three block walk to the next street with more balloons and I began to get apprehensive at that point.  Thousands of people were out to see the balloons the night before the parade. How on earth were we going to be able to get a spot?  People camp out in spots all night.  They get up at 4 am to claim a front row spot.  My husband had no intention of getting up that early.

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night, dozing off then waking when I’d hear a wind gust, but optimistic the big balloons would fly.  By 3am, I didn’t hear anymore wind and at 5:30am the alarm woke me up.  By the time we got into Manhattan, it was 7am.  We walked up to 6th Avenue.  At a corner on 6th, a large party of people  had set up camp with chairs and blankets.  To their left was a huge metal street sign, and to the left of that was another group of people with chairs and blankets.  As we were walking over, a woman started ranting at us.  “I was here at 3:30 and this is my spot.  No one except my kids are going to be here.  This is my spot.”  We had never said a word to her and she kept going on and on.

My husband and I exchanged incredulous WTF looks and I told him ‘don’t even bother.  Not even worth saying anything especially if we are here watching the parade and have to be around her for several hours.”  

I tend to be non confrontational.  I will generally back down and walk away.   I was thinking maybe we should walk a little further down 6th Avenue.  So we headed back towards the corner and I looked down under the sign.  There was one single row of 4 people sitting on the sidewalk, with room for another row behind them.  One of the guys on the corner  came over to me and said, "go over there, it’s a public sidewalk", and he let us by his party so we could go in front of the sign.  As I went in, that nasty woman tried to walk in front of the sign as well. 

Oh, no.  This is my spot.  You have your spot.  Go back to it.  And with that, I stood my ground and would not let her in front of the sign.  Anger flashed across her face and she said, “I would have had this spot but the police had it blocked off.  I retorted, “Well it’s my spot now.  Only my kids are standing here.  You have your spot.  Go back to it.”  Not wanted to deal with her trying to edge in while I would be taking pictures, I called to my husband.  He came over and kept her at bay for the parade.  He was quite amused that I stood up to her and said he wished he heard the exchange as it was not normally something I’d do.

So we were in the front, only four people in front of us.  We were practically on the street for the parade. I can’t thank Dave from New Hampshire enough for his kindness in letting us pass by his group to get in front of that sign.  He also let  a woman named Beth and her daughter Claire from Minnesota in front of the sign.  They were sitting on the curb and had arrived shortly before us.  A woman with her teenage son from San Francisco were likewise let in by Dave and we ended up part of a very fun, loud, friendly group. 

Watching this parade on TV and watching in person is a completely different experience.  While I knew we would enjoy the parade, it was even better than we expected.  This one time bucket list item was such an unexpected phenomenal experience, my husband may be coerced to do it again sometime.  It was so exciting to be high-fived by the clowns, getting confetti thrown on us, saying hi and Happy Thanksgiving and even briefly conversing with the performers.  We were singing, shouting, waving and having the time of our lives!  The people around us were very animated and friendly as well and we all got to know each other a little.  It was a little cold, but no one seemed to notice or care.  

If you have the opportunity to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, do it.  You will not be disappointed.  Go to Central Park Wednesday afternoon/evening and watch the balloons get inflated.  Get up early and get a spot.  The experience of being in front is amazing.   I can now say with certainty, “I love a parade!”

And by 1:00 pm, they were all asleep...


  1. Great post, Judi! How funny about the grouchy lady and her spot. I'm so glad you got yours and stood up to her. The pics are wonderful, but the last one is the sweetest... All your boys in a row, sleeping. it sounds like you had a wonderful time in experiencing your bucket list item. I think the only thing better would've been if Bruce Willis was in the parade and came over to high five ya's. lol! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    1. Attending the parade really exceeded all of our expectations Marianne - it was funny, when the New York City Police Marching Band came by I yelled out 'Where's John McClane' and everyone in our vicinity was laughing! thanks for stopping by!