Thursday, November 25, 2010

Magic, Memories & Macy's

As a child growing up, Heather remembered watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year on television.  She would wake up early on Thanksgiving Day morning, turn on the TV and be glued to the set until it was time for lunch.  The only interruptions were when her mother used the hand mixer and the channel got fuzzy with static.

There goes Snoopy!
The parade always looked so amazing on television!  Big, huge balloons, marching bands that seemed to go on for miles and colorful floats filled with singing celebrities bundled up.  The television announcers were always wrapped up in matching scarfs and earmuffs and would shout things like, "Here comes Snoopy!" with such excitement that as a child, you could hardly stand the anticipation.

So when Heather & Brett moved to Upstate New York, the gears in Heather's mind were already turning on how she might be able to see the famous parade firsthand.  She suckered her parents, Phyllis & Mr. Ed into making the trip to NYC for the holiday and hauled them, along with Brett, down to Central Park Thanksgiving morning.

Who could get lost wearing neon?
Mr. Ed was still limping a bit from the injuries he sustained the night before at the balloon blowing up viewing, but the swelling had gone down in his hand and his knees had scabbed over nicely.  With the subways running on a holiday/Sunday schedule, we had some trouble getting to where we wanted to go.  Apparently, the trains ran differently than what even their online schedule suggested they would.  We took it as a good sign when we saw a heard of cheerleaders set to march in the parade and they were as lost as we were on the subway.

Our view.
We finally ended up at 64th and Central Park West and in the back of a pretty good sized crowd.  While the first balloons didn't float by until around 9:00 a.m., the hard core parade go-ers arrived to stake their claim to the front row well before 7:00 a.m.  We figured we would see what we would see.  And the view wasn't too bad.  We caught all of the floats and the tops of the hats of the band members marching by.

But everyone knows the main attraction is straight above at the parade!  The parade started in 1927 and the first balloon was in the shape of Felix the Cat.  Now, 84 seasons of the parade later, the sky was filled with the magical memories of childhood and new images of pop culture, all busting at the seams with helium.  It was amazing to see Snoopy, Spiderman and Sponge Bob all go floating by.  The balloon handlers could make the images dance or wave just by tugging one or two of the ropes they held on with.  Every year the parade introduces new balloons to the lineup, 2010 saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Yes, Virginia and Kung Fu Panda added to the roster.

We got to see some celebs too!  Fortunatly, just behind us were a couple of teenage girls perched on a ladder who not only had a great view, but had that high pitched shriek that only a Tiger Beat cover model could appreciate.  We knew the moment someone famous was in our vicinity and it was time to get out the camera. To be honest, some of the folks we didn't recognize...but we took pictures anyway.

Kylie Minogue
Miss USA, Rima Fakih
Singer Keri Hilson
Cast of Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush
Kanye West
Jessica Simpson...her float stopped right in front of us!
Joan Rivers

Depending on where you stand on the parade route, it lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to watch.  It was funny to text a photo of a balloon to our friend Brandi Hodges in Arkansas and she text us back that the parade hadn't even started yet on television.  Our only disappointment came when we noticed none of the floats threw out any candy.  In our opinion, it's not a good parade unless you get hit in the face with a piece of bubble gum hard enough to leave a bruise.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is like any sporting event, you'll always have a better view watching it on television.  Sure, you'll catch the commentary explaining the floats and the history of the balloons and you'll probably learn a little about the back story to the celebs waving to you.  But there is something special, almost magical, to see it go by in person!  It's an amazing experience that you shouldn't pass up if you ever get the chance to go.

Plus, watching from the street means you don't have to worry about static interfering on the television from the hand-mixer...