Contrary to what some may say, parade day isn’t just for tourists who don’t know any better. (Click here for 2012 Thanksgiving Day Parade information). There really is nothing quite like freezing your butt off with a crowd of millions in the greatest city in the world. If you can’t appreciate that, turn on NBC at around 9 a.m. But if you can, listen up.
The 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off the 2011 holiday season with two miles of balloons, floats, falloons and celebrity-carrying balloonicles on Thursday morning. But first, Snoopy, Spongebob and newcomers like Elf Gazer and Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloons come to life the night before on the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History. Here’s what you need to know for parade day—and the night before.
On Thanksgiving Eve, the blowing-up viewing entrance (77th Street and Columbus Avenue) opens at 3 p.m. and the balloons start getting inflated around 4 p.m. on 77thand 81st Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Most should be blown up by 8 p.m., but will remain on view until 10 p.m. But the viewing entrance closes at 9 p.m., so if you want to take your chances coming late, make sure you don’t get there too late. If you aren’t a master of shortcuts and city navigation, the best parking spot is probably the one at your local train station. The B and C trains will take you to 81st Street, or the 1 train to Broadway and West 79th Street, only a few blocks away. And, of course, the earlier you get there the better.
On Thanksgiving Day, remember the parade route changed last year and it will not be heading down Broadway, so if you secure a spot right near the curb any time past 5 a.m. remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The 2011 route is as follows: Starts at 77th Street & Central Park West, Heads east to Columbus Circle at 59th Street, Turns east along Central Park South, Turns south at 7th Avenue, continues through Times Square to 42nd Street, Turns east at 42nd Street for one block to 6th Avenue, Turns south onto 6th Avenue and finishes in front of Macy’s Herald Square at 34thStreet.
Good luck, have a happy Thanksgiving—and now excuse us while we go squeeze our jellied cranberry sauce out of the can.