The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with tween/teen boys…
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with tween/teen boys…is a little different.
Let me preface this by saying that my boys have never really watched much of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. In 2013, I sat in front of the TV watching the parade and the boys would filter in and out occasionally when I mentioned a cool float or balloon. I was anticipating this trip a year ahead of time to measure their interest. I’d consider it mid-level interest at best.
If you have a high level of interest, you have several options to try and view the parade. Hotels along the route will be glad to take your money for a room with a view. Several restaurants take reservations for the parade time, will serve you breakfast and give you a great view. I didn’t think the price was right for our level of interest to book either of these options. Of course the cheapest way is to bundle up and stake an early claim (6am) to the perfect spot on the street. With our mid-level interest I wasn’t sure that was the best idea either (it was really cold and lightly raining/snowing this year, people).
Here’s how we viewed The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with our boys:
1) The Balloon Inflation Walk – All of the parade balloons are inflated from 3pm-10pm the Wednesday evening before the parade. Macy’s has created a wide gated path around the Museum of Natural History where the balloons are tethered to the street. I recommend taking the red line subway and exiting at 79th street. As you walk east towards the backside of the museum, you’ll run right into the entrance of the balloon inflation walk. If you attempt this with young children, leave the strollers at home, they caused a lot of issues on the walk.
I’d also recommend visiting early. We were there around 4:45pm, and only about 5 out of the 20 balloons were not inflated yet, and the crowds were manageable. Not to mention, we got to watch the inflation process on a few of them too. The crowds get crazy the later you wait to do the balloon inflation walk. Even though it was lightly raining, the boys really enjoyed this go at your own pace event. There are no tickets or cost to this event.
2) Viewing from the Empire State – We decided to try and time our visit to the Empire State Building with the parade. As luck would have it, the Empire State Building is least crowded between 8am and 11am. We managed to make it up to the 86th floor around 10:30am. Although I pre-purchased our tickets online, I did not pay for the no waiting option, but we still breezed right up to the top. As we looked west to the street level, we saw the Macy’s sign and the first balloon making it’s way past the telecast area. It was lightly snowing up there as we watched our favorite balloons go by. You could even hear the music from the marching bands and it added to the magic of the whole day. We also made a brief stop on the 102nd floor, which is all enclosed. In-between the clouds we could still see a few balloons in the parade from way up high!
3) Viewing from the ground level – We exited the Empire State Building and walked west on 34th street towards the Herald Square subway station. This happens to be the last turn the parade makes before it hits the front of Macy’s for the telecast. By this time it was around 11:30am. The Smurf balloon went by as we wound our way through the thinning crowds towards the subway station.
Our New York City friends say the best spots to view the parade are close to the start on the west side of Central Park West or at Columbus Circle. The further along the parade route you choose, the longer the parade seems to last. Especially at the end, since the parade stops at the telecast area for musical numbers, etc. I think that’s why we were able to catch a good view of Santa Smurf. The crowds were thinning out after people had been sitting there most of the morning.
Do I wish we’d staked out a spot and watched the parade go by?
Not really. We spent 5 days in New York City and the parade was only one aspect of it. If the weather was a little warmer and drier, we might have attempted it. If the only reason you’re there is for the parade, stake your claim at 6am so you can see very float, band and balloon go by.
Do my boys feel like they missed out on any of the parade?
No. Seeing it from so many different perspectives was part of the fun for them. They might actually watch it a little more on TV next year. Let me just say again that it was pretty cold and a little wet that weekend. My boys will brave the weather when they are really interested in something. This time, they were happy with our different parade views and didn’t freeze into an icicle in the process.
I was glad we tried to determine how interested the boys were in the parade before we made our plans. It guided a lot of our decisions about the parade and the trip as a whole. No matter what option you choose to view the parade, be flexible. If you are prepared for any type of weather, your experience will be much better.