Thanksgiving has always been a rather low-key Holiday for me; filled with catch phrase, green bean casserole, and walks with my Cousins, Aunts, and Great-Aunts down and around the neighborhood, rain or snow or shine. My Dad goes hunting to (hopefully) put some venison in the freezer and my Brother is usually in a field for fall harvest or hunting, so it’s Mom and I. We usually carpool with one or more of my Aunts and Grandparents to an extended family member’s home. Then, depending on the weather and our mood, mom and I either go to a movie later on, stop at a few stores, or hang out at home and put up the Christmas tree and eat fudge. It’s simple and quite underwhelming. This year, however, was a bit unorthodox for me as I headed east for the Grateful Holiday. And when I say east, I don’t mean, like, Eau Claire or eastern WI, I mean the east coast. Yes, Connecticut/New York. I had more than one item on my to-do list for the Holiday weekend, so among packing up Mara’s short term home in CT, doing a little paperwork for my side job, and attempting to kick a post-strep-throat chest and sinus cold in the shorts, we ambitiously made our way into NYC at 5:00am for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning! Join me as I describe in fair detail the chronological series of events that lead us through the fence-lined city blocks at the dawn of Thanksgiving with 3.5 million friends.
- 3:30am – The obnoxious and inevitably dreadful alarm. Boil water to make hot apple cider and salted caramel hot cocoa, pack enough fruit snacks to feed a kindergarten classroom (twice), along with 3 blankets, into my 45L day-pack as if we are headed into the snowy trenches of the forest for 3 days.
- 4:20am – Drive 1 1/2 hour to an NYC parking garage we got online for $20 – we park in NYC for $20. 20. for all day.
- 5:45am – Walk to Columbus Circle where we plan to sit, until we learn you have to be a VIP, meaning you have to have NYPD in your blood or be a Macy’s employee to be even considered to pass through the disconnected, heavily guarded, temporary fences surrounding the garden of bleachers and beautiful, wide-open spaces of sidewalk.
- 6:20am – Find ourselves a spot to sit on the corner of 59th Street and 6th Ave, behind a lovely family who got bananas and coffee from a pharmacy on the corner to (try to) stay alive and warm.
- 6:45am – Attempt watching Chicago on Netflix while drinking hot apple cider and NOT having to pee.
- 8:10am – I have to pee… preface: NYC has a very low restroom to store ratio, maybe like, 1:20. I eventually find a cafe, sneak past the busy counter, around a corner and down it’s narrow-stairway into the basement, use the facilities, and sneak out without purchasing anything or even making remote eye-contact with another human.
- 8:36am – I am STUCK on the sidewalk touching what feels like 16 different people who are pushing and getting sassy because, for some reason, they need to get around the corner before the 24 people in front of them need to get around the corner. This was a traumatic 8 minutes for a 22-year old girl from a town with a population that could fit in one city block of NYC.
- 8:44am – Return to my seat where I recover from my mild-anxiety attack as we became friends with some nice folks standing behind us from Rosemount, MN watching their kids play in their high school band.
- 9:30am – THE PARADE BEGINS PASSING BY!!!
- 9:30-11:30am – freak out at every passing float (Jimmy Fallon, Dustin Lynch, Lauren Alaina, Santa, 6+ high school bands, dancers, men in fairy costumes and 60 pairs of people in uniform holding down a giant pillsbury dough boy, brave souls dressed in bread, eggs, and a stick of butter, a human Christmas tree singing carols, and the Ice age squirrel chasing an acorn – just to name a few)
In blissful conclusion, go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade if you can in your lifetime. It’s mad chaos, it’s 100% New York, and you’ll have to fight to empty your bladder, but it’s magical when, on your right you can see down 10 city blocks at millions of people watching the Grinch and Elf on the Shelf float by, and on your left, you hear the screams of, what seems like the whole world, for Santa Claus as he rounds the corner atop his sleigh standing 15 feet above the crowd. It’s breathtaking and exhilarating all at once to see kids and their parents alike, be 10x more excited to see Santa and his reindeer pass by than Jimmy Fallon. So, go. By a plane ticket, charge your phone, pack a good book for the wait, and join 3.5 million people at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.