A lot of people have bucket lists. You know, a list of things you’d like to do before you “kick the bucket.” For a lot of people, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live from the parade route is near the top of their bucket list. I now can cross this off of mine.
I flew to New York City to spend Thanksgiving with my daughter. At first we thought we would just get up a bit early, grab some breakfast and just head up to the parade route. I thought if I just snapped some pictures of the balloons from afar, that would be good enough. But, after googling and reading about the parade, I thought since we were there, we might as well do it right.
We woke up at 4:30 and were at Dunkin Donut at 5:00a.m. We decided we better not eat or drink anything since we wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom for at least five hours. That is really hard for me. I can’t even imagine taking kids to watch the parade.
We thought we were prepared for the weather. It was going to be 52 degrees and sunny for the day and when we left it was 43 degrees, so I knew we wouldn’t freeze. My daughter suggested I pack my Uggs and wear them to the parade. My Uggs were in a box in my closet. I had never worn them. I don’t know why. So, I packed them and put them on for our adventure. I also brought extra gloves for Alex.
So, we were off to the parade. We rode the subway and got off at 59th Street and Central Park. I read where the parade is top and bottom heavy, so I thought something along Central Park would be a good place to stand. Not too north, and definitely not south where people probably camped out all night. I’m thinking this way because we saw chairs and blankets saving spots along the parade route. That didn’t seem fair to me. That’s like how people run down in the early morning and put their towels down to reserve beach chairs at a resort. Except in this case, there was always one person standing over the reserved area. If you are going to want a place up front, get your ass out there and stand like the rest of us. Sort of pissed me off.
We finally found a little crack in the armor and were able to find a place right in front of Trump Plaza.
I looked around to make sure there weren’t any kids around. There’s nothing worse than being in one spot for hours with a lot of children. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fourth grade teacher after all. But, kids spill stuff and move around and hang on gates, and some will just not stop talking. I just wanted to wait for the parade without much fanfare. Morning was breaking, so we decided to sit down on the cold concrete and wait the time away.
The time just went by slowly. I didn’t mind, however, since I like to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations.
Central Park was across the street. I love that place. There were blockades marked “Police Line: Do Not Cross” and that side of the street stayed vacant for a good part of the early morning. Later, I found out that ticket holders who were family members of the NYPD and firefighters were able to stand all along the Central Park side of the parade route. I thought that was nice. Soon, that side of the street was filled with people, but they did get to sleep in longer than us non-ticket holders.
It seemed like we waited forever. I knew better to drink my bottled water, but I did take a few bites of my Dunkin donut. We stood up and stretched, only to find three people now standing behind us. They were taller than us, so I am sure they were happy about that. We soon struck up conversations with all those surrounding us. Some people were from Louisiana. Some were from Connecticut. The couple to our left were from Brooklyn. I don’t know why, but I think people are a bit shocked when I say I’m from West Virginia, like we aren’t allowed across the state line or something. Someone asked me how I liked New York City. Sometimes I just can’t believe the things that fly out of my mouth.
“Well, I really never cared to visit a large city like this and never wanted to come here…. I’m all about raccoons and squirrels….blah blah blah.”
What? I few minutes later, my daughter looked at me, burst out laughing and said, “Really, Mom. That’s what you’re all about….raccoons and squirrels?” She started laughing at me so hard she was crying. It was so normal of me to say something so stupid. I just had to start laughing too. At least I wasn’t wearing camouflage like the lady from Louisiana. Maybe she understood me. She was probably all about crawdads or something.
Well, we could see a helicopter hanging out above us and we could hear sirens off in the distance. The parade was supposed to start at 9:00 up around 77th Street. We figured the parade would be to us around 9:30. And then it began.
The police presence was just unbelievable. They were every where. There was a bomb sniffing dog that took a liking to Alex. A guy wearing a red cross button was walking the dog on our block repeatedly. He told the dog to give Alex kisses. Since we were sitting on the ground, the dog obliged and wagged his tail, taking a break from sniffing for bombs to love on Alex for a minute. He was sweet.
Some of the balloons seemed pretty sad, helium speaking. Kermit was low to the ground and saggy in some spots. A lot of them were like that. Kermit wasn’t going to look pretty for the cameras down in front of Macy’s department store. That’s when the people behind us told us there were floats and singers we wouldn’t see. What?? I wondered how the parade could start on NBC at 9:00, but yet we were on 59th and the parade didn’t get to us until 9:30. There was another street of performers and balloons somewhere that hooked up to where filming took place for the tv land people. They would perform and then go to the end of the parade. We began to feel gypped a bit. Who weren’t we going to get to see?
I really enjoyed all the people who were dressed up in crazy costumes. They were so full of energy and would come by giving up high fives and throwing confetti in our faces. It was fun.
I had fun laughing during the parade. Some of walkers were having a hard time balancing their heads.
It was fun seeing celebrities. We saw Jimmy Fallon and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I was able to take a pretty good picture of some of them.
Whoopie Goldberg was a pirate. I don’t know why.
And then there were singers like Trace Adkins, who I didn’t really know about since I am not a country fan. I did notice he and his wife should have been happy that people from PETA weren’t around with some paint.
I don’t know why I got so excited to see the cast on the Sesame Street float, but I did. I watched Sesame Street every day with my kids when they were young. So, I yelled Bob’s name.
Bob really had no choice but to look in the direction of the crazy lady screaming his name.
I yelled at Mr. Planters on top of the Peanutmobile to look over our way so I could get a good shot, but he wouldn’t look at me. What a nut!
In the end I took more than 75 photos. It was fun. I am now able to cross this item off of my bucket list. I still need to travel to Devil’s Tower, travel Route 66, and sit by Loch Ness with a rented bag piper, waiting with my camera for Nessie. I have a lot of items on my bucket list.
The Macy’s Day Parade is a once in a lifetime experience. Notice how I said, “once in a lifetime?” Would I do it again? Oh, hell no. Not in a million years. I was cold and I had to pee. But, I got to spend time with my daughter, and that was priceless. I missed my son, though. That would have made the day perfect. But, that perfect day will come when they both fly home for Christmas.
As we left after the parade, I took my best shot of my whole trip.
People in New York are all about pigeons.
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