It has always been my dream to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. In November 2002, after watching the festivities from the tropics (my childhood home in Hawaii) for nearly two decades I figured it was about time I hunkered down and made the commitment to see the glorious bands, balloons and floats in person. (Yes, even my husband was game.) The only problem—in late Spring of 2003 I got pregnant and was forced to nix our plans to watch the parade in person. Fast forward five years–I have all ready made plans for our family to attend the 80-year-old tradition (with a soon-to-be 3-year-old in tow).
That’s right, in exactly 365 days we will be joining the 2.5 million other parade fans on the streets of Manhattan (44 million more tune into the parade on TV). If you aren’t familiar with the holiday tradition–the parade features more than 10,000 participants, along with lavish floats and Macy’s signature giant helium character balloons, including Snoopy, Pikachu, and Big Bird.
I’ve updated the information I gathered on the parade in 2003 (the year we were supposed to go), picked out the hotel, and arranged transportation. If you are planning to make the trip this year—congratulations and good luck. If you are contemplating making the trip next year here are some tips to consider:
This year’s parade will start at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 a.m. It will continue south down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, where it will turn down Broadway. It will continue down Broadway until it reaches 34th street, just past the Macy’s Herald Square. (This route has rarely deviated in the last five years.)
Viewing locations are limited to the following areas (this doesn’t take in account all the lucky residents who live in apartments along the parade route):
· From Central Park West: The west side of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle and on the east side of the street from 70th to 65th Street.
· Columbus Circle: The west side of the street.
· Broadway: Between 58th and 38th Streets.
· 34th Street: The south side of the street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.
· There is no public viewing on Broadway from 34th to 38th Street. On 34th Street from Broadway to 7th Avenue, limited viewing is available on the south side of the street only.
I have family members who live in New York and attend the parade each year. Here are some of their viewing tips:
· Make sure you get to your spot early. Parade literature lists 6:30 a.m. as the time when most people start to scout out their spots—my family members disagree and say it’s closer to 3:30 a.m.
· Leave your folding chairs at home. Crowds are not fond of people who lug and then set up cumbersome chairs in already tight spaces.
· Stop for donuts and coffee and dine al fresco while you wait—it’ll help pass the time.
· Columbus Circle is where most TV stations set up, and not the best place for viewing the parade.
· Dress warmly. November in New York can be chilly—especially if you are exposed to the elements for more than 5 hours. Layers are always a good bet.
The subway’s your easiest option for getting to the parade. Here are some popular choices:
Take the D to 34 St./Herald Square or 59 St./Columbus Circle.
Take the C to 42 St./Times Square, 50 St./8th Ave., 59 St./Columbus Circle, 72 St./Central Park West, or 81 St./Central Park West.
Take the 1,2,3 to 42 St./Times Square or 72 St./Broadway. The 1 local will also stop at 50 St./Broadway and 59 St./Columbus Circle.