PHOTO: The 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 9 a.m. on Thursday and will be broadcast live by NBC.(Courtesy NBC)
The parade takes place in New York City, but it is celebrated all over the country.
The 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the iconic embodiment of the holiday, drawing millions along the parade route for more than 40 blocks and millions more on television.
Here’s a few things to know about this truly American celebration, especially if you’re looking to head into the city on Thursday to mark yet another item off your travel bucket list.
1) GET THERE EARLY: There is a serious jockeying for position along the parade route. In fact, even though the parade kicks off at 9 a.m. along Central Park West, there are a few hearty souls who come the night before to watch the gigantic balloons being blown up near the Museum of Natural History – and then just park it in lawn chairs on the sidewalk as close to the road as allowed. In some spots, even 6 a.m. isn’t early enough.
2) FORGET ABOUT THOSE BLEACHERS: Along the parade route you will see several sets of temporary bleachers installed for viewing. Don’t even think about it. Even if you arrived on Halloween they’re not for you, but don’t take it personally – Macy’s sets them aside for its employees and their families for all their hard work.
3) GO TO THE BATHROOM. EARLY: Seriously. New York is a tough town. Your toddler might be the cutest in the world but you’re not going to the bathroom in that restaurant right behind you unless you plan on sitting down and ordering brunch.
4) THE BALLOONS WON’T BE RELEASED: You think we’re kidding but we’re not. In the early days of the parade, a highlight of the event was to release the balloons and award a prize for a scavenger hunt for anybody who found any of them. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of air traffic back in the late 1920s, early ‘30s.
5) SANTA CLOSES THE SHOW: The arrival of Santa Claus in his sleigh signals the end of the parade and the start of the Christmas season. Of course, that tradition began well before retailers started putting up Christmas trees and decorations in-store the day after Halloween. In fact, the first three parades in 1924, ’25 and ’26 were named the Macy’s Christmas Parade until it took on the Thanksgiving moniker in 1927.
6) BONUS TIDBITS: Best depiction of the parade? The hit 1947 movie ‘Miracle On 34th Street’ … This will be the 90th parade but if you do the math you’ll see there should be 93. The parades were canceled in 1942, ’43 and ’44 during World War II … The first parade started at 145th St. and was a five-and-a-half mile route; today it is two-and-a-half miles long.