Thanksgiving, as the name suggests, is a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. It is an important festival and is celebrated with great fervour on the fourth Thursday in November. Several cities host major Thanksgiving Day Parades, and New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is among the iconic ones. It is broadcast nationally, and is famous for its giant character balloons.
As far as its origins are concerned, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is now held annually in New York was first started in the 1920s by first-generation immigrants from Europe, who had been employed by Macy’s department store. In 1924, the employees led by Louis Bamberger, dressed in costumes marched from through Manhattan to Macy’s store on 34th Street. The Parade also features live music and other performances including the Radio City Rockettes, high-profile celeb performances, and cast members from Broadway shows.
Gigantic character balloons and floats have been a signature feature of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since the beginning. In 1927, a giant balloon figure of Felix the Cat featured in the parade. Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, Kung Fu Panda and other figures from popular culture have made their appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In fact, the balloons of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come in three varieties namely novelty balloon class, full-size balloon class and the recently introduced ‘Blue Sky Gallery’. The ‘Blue Sky Gallery’ collection comprises works of contemporary artists are transformed into full-size balloons. In 2013, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Despicable Me 2, Viking Confetti Catapult were the popular balloons featured in the parade.
In order to enjoy Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, tourists need to first access New York. New York is well connected by air to all major countries and thus, it isn’t a problem for tourists to access the city. However, since the parade is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, it is a huge travel weekend. So travellers are advised to make their reservations beforehand.
As far as the weather in New York is concerned, November is a month in the Fall season, which is considered to be one of the most pleasant months in New York City. The mornings are warm and sunny whereas the evenings tend to get slightly chilly.
The parade usually starts at 9 a.m. and travels down Central Park West from 77th Street to Columbus Circle along Central Park South to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 34th Street and along 34th Street finally to its culmination at Macy’s Herald Square (34th Street).
Tips and Suggestions
• When booking accommodation, ensure that you book a hotel room with a view of the Thanksgiving Parade.
• The parade starts at 9 a.m. However, the crowds are always huge. So it is recommended that tourists arrive early, say around 6 am to avoid the crowd.
• Ensure that you carry warm layers of clothes, snacks and hot cocoa.
• Balloons are an important part of the parade. Tourists can watch the balloons get inflated, on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving at the ‘Inflation Celebration’. Location: Near the American Museum of Natural History, just off Central Park West, between 77th Street and 81st Street.