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Old 11-28-2019, 12:36 PM
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What is it like to attend the Macy's Thaksgiving parade?


Have you been there? How crowded is it? Would it be worth it to travel to New York to attend? How much are tickets for preferred areas? How early do you have to arrive?

Please leave any relevant comments.
  #2  
Old 11-29-2019, 01:20 AM
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As a spectator, you have to arrive pretty early to get a good view. If there are people in front of you, they often have little kids on their shoulders, so you have to see around them. The pavement can be sticky from god-knows-what. It can also be cold and windy or rainy. I'd recommend staying home and watching on tv.

I also volunteered one year, to help hold down one of the big balloons (I think it was a dog, not Snoopy). That was lots of fun with some amazing people... but I was sore for a week afterward.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:46 PM
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I attended once, maybe in 1972, so my experience isn't going to be relevant to attending the parade today. I and my then girlfriend took my youngest siblings, who were around 8-12, to see the parade. It was a lot of fun to see the giant balloons go by overhead, a perspective you can't get except being there in person. These days I'm sure it's even more crowded.

No tickets are sold to the parade. The seating areas are Macy's employees, and are not distributed to the public. It is possible to volunteer to be a balloon handler. I believe we had a thread last year by someone who did that.

My mother could never go because she was always busy cooking dinner, so one year we took her down to see the balloons being inflated the evening before on the Upper West Side. This was fun and a lot less crowded than the parade itself.

Here a viewing guide to the parade.
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Old 11-30-2019, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
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Have you been there?
Yes.

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How crowded is it?
2.5 mile route, 3.5 million watch it live. Some parts are not that crowded because they are reserved ticket bleachers, which means the rest are even more crowded. Some of the side streets along CPW can have crowds of 20-30 deep; you can see the balloons from back there but not the lower stuff, like marching bands.

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Would it be worth it to travel to New York to attend?
Yes. kind of like watching fireworks live vs. watching them on TV.

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How much are tickets for preferred areas? How early do you have to arrive?
Priceless; they aren't sold but are for Macy's VIPs/employees only. The earlier the better, 6am or by 7am; otherwise, you won't get front row(s) in the crowd. Weather conditions vary each year but dress warmly as it's usually chilly overnight & you're going to be standing there not moving.
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Old 12-01-2019, 11:58 AM
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Another thing to consider: NYC is not abundant in public restrooms.
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Old 12-01-2019, 12:14 PM
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Don't.
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:29 PM
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We went back in, umm, 1984, so probably out of date: We were staying an extra couple of days after a conference in the Times Square area (back before it got cleaned up). We went down to find a spot two hours early, only to discover no one was there. We went back to grab a spot 45 minutes before the start, and got a front-row spot. It helped that it was somewhat cold, but being from Minnesota that didn't bother us.

Five minutes before the parade passed by us, a stereotypical New York couple asked if they could stand in front of us - like, no! really!?!!

The balloons seemed smaller in person, but were still cool. What was more interesting was the number of policemen along the route, looking cold and miserable. Also we were surprised at how many of the floats were just advertising the current toys. The only thing anyone on a float would dois wave (Mary Lou Retton fresh from the Olympics!). I hate NBC's broadcast of the singing and dancing in front of Macy's - that doesn't happen during the parade itself.

Again - from 1984 for what it's worth. We haven't gone back; it was like "did it, don't need to do it again".
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:40 PM
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Another thing to consider: NYC is not abundant in public restrooms.
Yeah, I would recommend it if you haven't done it before but not if you have a weak bladder. When I did it it was worth doing once since it was a different and new, but not necessarily much better view than from TV, but as a plus was devoid of commercial breaks and annoying announcers. But I wouldn't do it again since when the parade's passed your place, everyone's looking to pee. When I was there, half our party waited in line at a Starbucks' whose line was already 30 deep while I forged on through a maze of corridors to a hidden bathroom my brother described at some performing arts center which nonetheless had a line of 10 or so despite being out of the way.
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:16 PM
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The balloons seemed smaller in person, but were still cool. What was more interesting was the number of policemen along the route, looking cold and miserable. Also we were surprised at how many of the floats were just advertising the current toys. The only thing anyone on a float would dois wave (Mary Lou Retton fresh from the Olympics!). I hate NBC's broadcast of the singing and dancing in front of Macy's - that doesn't happen during the parade itself.
Every parade I've ever been to or in has a performance area; that goes from the nationally televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to the local town's 4th of July parade which isn't televised, even on the local community access cable channel & the category winners are posted, by hand on at the gazebo of the local park. The various units don't can't perform all the way down the parade route. Yes, the first hour or so of the Macy's parade is the pre-positioned Broadway show song & dance routine but that's only because the marchers step off uptown at the same time that the live coverage begins downtown.

What one gets to see live is all of the elements that don't make TV, the small & medium sized balloons, the floats that don't have 'talent' on them, the dozens of clown troupes & pulled & pedaled things, like the trycaloons.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:55 AM
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We talked about this over the holiday. My sisterís in-laws would go occasionally. Their rule was: arrive late and bring a ladder.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:21 AM
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I've never been to this parade (although I've been to other NYC parades), but this year one of my childhood friends was part of the crew manning the ropes on the new "Green Eggs and Ham" balloon. They weren't sure they were going to get to haul it out, on account of the winds. They got the go-ahead, but had to keep the balloon low. I looked for my friend on the TV broadcast, but they kept the camera high on the balloon (despite its being low to the ground), so you couldn't see the crew. He posted pix of the crew on Facebook, though.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:28 AM
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I also volunteered one year, to help hold down one of the big balloons (I think it was a dog, not Snoopy). That was lots of fun with some amazing people... but I was sore for a week afterward.
My husband has pointed out to me that I never did this. I did, in fact, handle a float in a Pride parade, not the same thing at all. Sorry for my brain fart.
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:07 AM
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People push you, step on your feet, bump into you, and there is no where to pee. The year we went (over a decade ago and I'm still trying to block it out), there was freezing rain and sleet. Good times.
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:42 AM
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This is close to my idea of the upper circles of Hell.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:06 AM
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When I went with my niece and nephew, I brought a small ladder (on the subway, I lived in Queens). They saw it all, I was happy.
  #16  
Old 12-08-2019, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
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Have you been there? How crowded is it? Would it be worth it to travel to New York to attend? How much are tickets for preferred areas? How early do you have to arrive?

Please leave any relevant comments.


a crashing bore
  #17  
Old 12-09-2019, 03:04 PM
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I think it would be interesting to see all the high school marching bands.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:56 PM
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If you must see a Thanksgiving Day parade, skip New York and see the one on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:02 PM
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I really have no interest in the big balloons, and I've never even watched the parade on TV, so I have no interest in attending in person. It seems kinda tacky, frankly.

I've gone to the Rose Parade, and that was a lot of fun. Most of the parade route is a big party the night before (New Year's Eve, duh). And the floats are amazing in person.

One thing that I stupidly didn't expect was the smells. Gorgeous.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:17 PM
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You park as far away from the parade as you possibly can while still able to walk there. You get beaten and bashed to the point that Eli Manning pities you. You need to pee so badly that you friends make a wall ... and you pee in a bottle. Your kids? They make in their pants. From every direction you smell ammonia, unwashed people, bad-breath and stale beer. You'll watch a million HS marching bands playing when you never once got up off your ass in HS to ever see your HS marching band play.

...And Baby, It's Pay Back Time..!

You'll watch the tops of balloons, because some asshole will scoot in front of you with his kid on his shoulders leaving you to sniff Pampers.
If You were in Hell being tortured by Aubrey Plaza, you'd think it couldn't get worse... but oh... it Does... it does...

Suddenly, someone will scream "I See Santa...!" The thousands of kids around you will all scream. It's the whistle for the athletic portion of the event.

Q: Tell me, just how fast can you run the hundred? Been a while? Even better, how fast can you run the hundred while carrying a screaming toddler like a sack of potatoes? Oh, don't worry about the cops tackling you like some pedophile... because Every Single Adult along the parade route has just picked up their child and is sprinting towards their cars. Very quickly you'll decide that those fold-able chairs are completely expendable. Even better, the three parents behind you who were gaining on you ( God, I Hate those NY Marathon Runners that Breed ) are slowed down by those dropped chairs. You wonder briefly if you'll see that in the next "James Bond" movie... just before you trip over the Igloo cooler someone in front of you just dropped. Oh how you'll curse that ignorant fother mucker!

Then, just when you think you're Tom Cruise holding Dakota Fanning and fully expecting a flaming LIRR train to pull in front of you, you'll see it: Your Car!

Immediately you'll find yourself doing the math: Is changing little Janey's poo-filled Pamper worth an extra 45 minutes in traffic as you desperately try to find a tunnel.

But you won't... you Can't... because There Is No Escape From NY...!

Last edited by Mundane Super Hero; 12-09-2019 at 09:18 PM.
  #21  
Old 12-10-2019, 03:58 PM
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Never been to Macy's Thanksgiving, but I have been to a Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's morning.

It was great, it was fun, we had bleacher seats so visibility was no problem, and bathrooms were plentiful. But it seemed much ... bigger.. on TV. In person, it just seemed kind of like your home town 4th of July parade, but with really elaborate floats.
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