What would Thanksgiving be without the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? A yearly tradition for 98 years and counting, the Macy’s parade brings joy to families all over the world. The parade has continued to grow over the years with this year consisting of 30 balloons, seven balloonicles (ground-based balloons), 31 floats, 10 marching bands, 19 performers, 31 groups of clowns, and six performance groups. This year, I had the privilege of attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and it was one for the books!
Every year since I can remember, my family has watched the parade on TV. I have often dreamed of the day that I would get to see it in person, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. While my family, friends, and I were not watching from the parade center at Harold Square, where most of the performances occur, we still got an amazing view and a memorable experience. Here’s how the day went.
Our crew was up at the waking hour of six to get ourselves ready for the parade. We packed into the car at a quarter to seven and hit the road toward Central Park. Luckily, we did Thanksgiving in New Jersey, so the drive was not too long. We arrived in the city at about eight, but it took 15 minutes to park. We ended up parking on 65th street and walked through Central Park to get to the beginning of the parade route. The crowd was huge but easy to navigate and the 10 of us all ended up standing together on W 63 Street and 6th Avenue, about three rows back from the street.
The parade was supposed to start at nine, but it ended up starting a bit early, which was great! It opened with a New York Police Department (NYPD) motorcycle brigade to honor the mother city of the parade and those who work so hard to keep it safe. The first balloon appearances were the two Macy’s Gold Stars, followed by Grogu. Many cheers went up for Baby Yoda and those guiding the famous Mandalorian character. Many novelty character balloons began to follow, as well as performance floats and marching bands from all over the country.
As always, the floats were very intricate and lacked not even the smallest of details. Four new floats were added this year. I had the opportunity to see three out of four of them and they were all gorgeous. Bright colors, different textures, multi-levels, and many performers adorned these floats. The Lego float, a returner, featured a bright red Lego dragon that blew steam from its mouth, proving just how much effort is put into this annual event.
The parade was joyous and the crowd was equally as lively, with generations of people uniting to celebrate the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Cheers never stopped, confetti was continually thrown and laughter was contagious. Fans of the parade were excited to see characters, performers, and people they knew flooding the streets of New York City. You could point out fan favorites by the sheer amount of smiles and bright eyes seen within the crowd.
Personally, my favorite part was the surprise appearance of Big Time Rush (BTR) on the Kinder Fantasy Chocolate Factory float. The float was supposed to have singer Darren Criss as the performer, so seeing BTR was a huge and wonderful surprise. You can tell many people were also shocked at the appearance of the 2010s boy band, who has recently started a reunion tour. BTR was all smiles, waving and joking with the crowd, who they could tell was very excited. For the people I was with, the majority of us shared seeing BTR as our favorite part of the parade.
We ended up leaving the parade before the end to beat city traffic, but from what I saw, it was well worth it. Being at the beginning of the route, we did miss the Harold Square performances, but it was all worth it to see the giant balloons up close. It was definitely a unique experience that I will cherish for years to come. I highly recommend going at least once. It is completely free and totally worth it. If you do not watch the parade every year, you should still go and see it for yourself, it is a 10/10 experience.