Editor’s Note: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition that is best experienced live on the streets of Manhattan. Maybe. Mike Julianelle writes about his trip this past Turkey Day to see the balloons and floats with his kids.
My Thanksgivings don’t usually start with 5:45 wake-up calls. But my Thanksgivings also don’t usually include a visit to the most celebrated parade in the world.
And my Thanksgivings NEVER feature an appearance from KISS. Which is usually the thing I’m most thankful for.
But last year I got all of those things, for better or worse, because, thanks to the good people at Macy’s and my wife’s bizarre obsession with this event, I’d secured tickets to the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Let me assure you attending parades is not something I would do if I didn’t have a kid. That being said, if you hate parades but have to attend one? The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is probably as good as it gets.
The getting up early part wasn’t so good. When your 4-year-old is astonished that you’re getting out of bed when “it’s still nighttime!” you’re probably up too early. But tickets to the Thanksgiving parade come with rules, and one of them is that if you don’t get there – and get in line – before 8 a.m., you’re not guaranteed a seat. And when you live in Brooklyn and have to take the subway to Central Park, that means you have to get up before the sun does. Hooray!
When we finally arrived, we were granted admission to the bleacher section alongside the bottom of Central Park, and about 30 to 45 minutes into the parade route. Which means we got there before 8 a.m. and sat on cold aluminum bleachers for about 90 minutes and waited for the parade got to us. My son was not exactly loving the wait, and neither were his toes, and neither were my arms, because strollers weren’t allowed, and he was in mine basically the whole time. Or on my shoulders. Does anyone know a masseuse I think I’m dying.
Bring on the Thanksgiving Day Parade: balloon and all
Thankfully, once the balloons started flowing, his spirits perked up, because let’s face it: who doesn’t love a parade? (I’ll give you one guess.)
My son’s favorite balloons were Spider-Man, Paddington Bear, the Pillsbury Doughboy (whom he disgustingly, but not inaccurately, referred to as “Goo Boy”), Snoopy and Thomas the Train (the very first balloon). In addition, as is customary at this parade, there was a bunch of floats, on which a wide variety of “celebrities” and bands I’ve never heard of stood and waved, including the Sesame Street gang, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and one of the Jonas brothers, who looked about as miserable as you’d expect someone who was famous for being a Jonas brother to be. At least PRETEND you want to be here, kid!
Also making an appearance at the Thanksgiving day parade? The aforementioned KISS, whose presence made about as much sense as getting up at 5:45 to watch a lot of people walk past me. At least I could be secure in the fact that I wasn’t going to be the only person pounding beers as soon as I got off the parade route. Although my wife was probably still going to be the only person pounding a split of champagne.
Thanksgiving is a day on which we’re supposed to be thankful for stuff, so despite the early morning and the cold weather and the disturbing appearance of a 60-year-old’s disconcertingly long tongue, I’ll join in. I’m thankful to the people at Macy’s for providing me with the opportunity to take my son to this iconic parade. I’m thankful my son reserved his meltdowns for before and after the parade, because I didn’t need 40,000 strangers see my call my son an asshole on Thanksgiving Day. I’m also thankful that when Megan Trainor’s float went by, I couldn’t hear her speakers blasting “All About That Bass” song because A) I didn’t need that stuck in my head at Thanksgiving dinner and B) we all know “Shake It Off” is the ear-worm of the year!
Finally, I’m thankful Sixpoint Brewery makes a 24-ounce can that I was able to take on the train to Grandma’s because if you expect me to be thankful for anything after being awake since 5:45 in the morning, you’d better get me drunk.
A version of this first appeared on Dad and Buried.