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Everybody Loves a Parade
November 15, 2006 6:53 AM   Subscribe

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, help me fulfill a childhood wish: Where are the best places on the route to stand? And how early should I get there?

If it matters, I would be coming into New York from Bridgeport, Conn. that morning by train if possible, otherwise, by car.
posted by MasonDixon to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I went to see that parade once when I was a little kid.
We stood out there for a few minutes, but it was so crowded and cold, we decided to go home to my aunt's house and watch it on TV. Best seat in the house.
posted by jozxyqk at 7:14 AM on November 15, 2006


I've lived here 12 years and never gone to the parade so can't help you there. However, even though it's gotten very crowded over the years, it IS worth it (especially since this is a childhood wish) to make the trip to see the balloons being blown up the night before.
posted by papercake at 7:25 AM on November 15, 2006


I've only seen the parade from the streets once (and this was several years ago when I was quite a big younger, so I don't remember where we were), but I have been in the parade for a few years (and helping inflate all the balloons the day before).

My observation has been that it gets crowded along the parade route, so you'd do well to get there well before the 9am start of the parade. I couldn't tell you how early, but the earlier the better, I'd imagine.

If you (or anyone else, for that matter) wants to see the balloons before the parade, there is a public viewing of them the night before. All the inflation is done on 77th and 81st Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, near the Museum of Natural History. Most of the inflation is done by around 6pm or earlier. If you wanted to see the actual inflation of the ballons, you could come by that same spot earlier that day. We arrive there by 11am or so and start the inflation not long after that.
posted by Godbert at 7:39 AM on November 15, 2006


I haven't gone to the parade, but those I know who have go very, very early. Looks like Metro North is running trains about every 40 minutes until noon on Thanksgiving, with the first train leaving at 5:05am and arriving at 6:40. The extended forecast suggests that the temperature won't be below freezing.

When I worked in an office building along the route, we were allowed to show up and watch the parade from inside and a few floors up. If you have friends who might have similar privileges, it may be worth asking nicely...
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2006


My boyfriend and I went a couple years ago and we had tickets for specific bleacher seats around Herald Square. I don't know if tickets are necessary but we got them through his dad. I remember getting up ridiculously early, and I think we got there around 8am. I think if you dont have specific seats but want a good view you should get there even earlier, like 7am. We brought a giant fleece blanket and warm beverages and were still COLD, so very cold. It was a LOT of fun though - we really enjoyed ourselves! Have fun!
posted by infinityjinx at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2006


What up, Bridgeport?? 3rd Generation Black Rock here (although I now live in Queens, I'm back in Bpt all the time.)

I walked in the parade (had a friend at Macy's) back in 2001, and I can only say this - everything was PACKED. The entire route. So the only suggestion I can make is to get there as early as humanly possible. When I walked in the parade, we got there super early to get ready, and we were outside when the sun came up. That was pretty cool to see, especially since it was a cool, clear day. Not that you're going to get there THAT early, but I'm just sayin.

If I was going to the parade, I'd probably try to stay above Columbus Circle. Times Square is crowded anyway, and it seems to be the place where people gravitate to. Plus, if you consider the people coming into Penn Station for the parade (Penn is down on 33rd/34th Street). When I walked, I wasn't in the crowd, but it did seem like the crowd was a bit less crowded and manic the further north you got. (Although, like I said, I wasn't in the crowd, so I couldn't say for sure.) Plus, the parade will end earlier for you, and you'll be able to get back to Grand Central before the southern half of the parade ends. Its a bit of a haul (1-1.5 miles depending on where you go), but it really won't take too long, and on that day, it'll probably be quicker than a cab.

Oh, also, stay on the east side of the parade route. Once the police block off the roads, it'll be really hard to cross the parade route if you need to or want to make a quick exit when the parade ends.

Metro-North really is awesome on Thanksgiving with the constant trains, but Grand Central and the trains will be obscenely ridiculously packed. Rush hour is NOTHING compared to right after the parade ends (I commuted in/out of there for 2 years.) It's not the usual commuter crowd though, and everyone's generally in a good mood on the train, so its not too bad. Try to get a train that expresses to at least South Norwalk. Those ones that stop starting in Greenwich or Port Chester and make all the little stops in between take FOR-EV-ER.
posted by AlisonM at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2006


Oh, also, if its not obvious - take the train. Don't even think about bothering with the car, unless you want to park in Queens or the Bronx and take the subway in, which, at that point, will take longer than the train.
posted by AlisonM at 7:46 AM on November 16, 2006


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