There is only one way to spend Thanksgiving in New York City and that is to join the millions of others lining the streets of Manhattan and watch the spectacle that is the world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Saying that it is the only way to spend the day in the city really isn’t an exaggeration, as many of the other attractions, coffee shops and restaurants are indeed closed!
So instead get your scarf and gloves on, and prepare yourself for a memorable if a little bit chilly way to spend Thanksgiving.
This uniquely American tradition running annually from 1924 signals the beginning of the holiday season for many and is watched by not only the 3.5 million on the streets of New York City itself but by up to 50 million people who tune in on their TVs to watch the event. Giant balloons based upon much loved TV and film characters, unique floats, the nation’s best marching bands, cheerleaders and clowns take to the streets for this 3 hour celebration. Beginning on 25th November at 9am on 77th Street and Central Park West and coming to its conclusion at Macy’s Department store on 34th Street and 7th Avenue. The streets involved in the parade start to fill up as early as 6:30am, so it’s a good idea to plan in advance and get there early in order to get a prime position, taking a coffee and something to eat is recommended because if you to move from your space its almost certain you won’t get it back!
For those who don’t like the idea of jostling with the crowds to see the parade, many people are choosing to watch from their perfectly located hotel rooms and short term apartment rentals lining the route. The accommodation along the route start to take bookings on these well placed rooms up to a year in advance so it pays to do your research and plan in advance, and when choosing your room its recommended to go for one around floors 7 to 15, anything higher and the floats and balloons are difficult to see, anything lower and you will be craning your neck to see anything!
If you are lucky enough to be around the day before the parade on Thanksgiving Eve, many New Yorkers head to 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue to watch The Big Balloon Blow-up. Here the famous giant balloons are inflated in preparation for the next day’s parade; the task begins at 3pm and finishes around 10pm when the balloons have fully taken shape. It’s thought best to arrive around 5pm when the balloons have really started to come alive and resemble the end result. And as the Blow-up takes place so close to the American Museum of Natural History this provides welcome shelter and a warm drink for anyone who’s feeling the cold and of course those wanting to brush up on their history.
However you choose to watch the parade, this well loved, enchanting Thanksgiving tradition is sure to provide you with memories that will last you for many holiday seasons to come.
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