The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an American tradition and a tradition in our home.

macys thanksgiving day parade

Typically, on Thanksgiving morning, our family gets up at our leisure in our jammies and sit down to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I begin cooking cinnamon and orange sweet rolls and break out the orange juice. We enjoy a nice, easy-going Thanksgiving morning watching the balloons, bands, and Broadway acts as they perform in front of Macy’s on TV.

This year, that was not our “American tradition.”

Back when it was still hot and sticky here in Florida, my wife won tickets to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in person. A bucket list item for her. Not so much for me.

At first, I thought this was going to be a Mommy and kids trip. I have another annual tradition of going on a hunting trip over Thanksgiving. I saw no reason to break that tradition.

Mommy felt otherwise. I was quickly and clearly informed, this will be a FAMILY adventure. Lovely. Did I mention the hunting trip? Do you get that I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy? Not so much a city guy? That’s OK. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So, we’re off to New York City to celebrate our Thanksgiving and to check one of Mommy’s bucket list.

macys thanksgiving day parade

Getting to New York City for the Macy’s Parade

My wife did set up a really cool way to get to New York. We rode the train all the way from Jacksonville, Florida to New York’s Penn Station. It was awesome! Such a cool experience. My grandfather worked on the railroad his entire life. So did his brother. I’ve loved trains since I was a little parade

We arrived in New York on Tuesday, so we had a little time to do a few touristy things. Mainly, we checked out Rockefeller Center and the window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Macys Parade Rockefeller Center

macys parade saks fifth avenue

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Inflation Day

The first big event for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was inflation day. On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you can go up to Central Park West (at 74th Street) where the parade starts and watch them inflate the balloons for the parade. This was a really cool experience. The kids loved it. It was a little on the crowded side for Daddy, but I hear it got a lot worse after we’d already made it through the gauntlet.

macys thanksgiving day parade inflation day

We walked from 49th Street up to 74th for inflation day. It took us about 45 minutes. We wanted to see how this would work out, since we had to come up to 76th according to our tickets for our seats the next morning. Fortunately, a friend that’s a native New Yorker met us at the balloons and told us how to take the subway from our hotel, so that’s how we got ourselves to the line for the parade on Thursday morning.

Macy’s Parade Day

We were up and out the door by 5AM Thursday. Our tickets said we needed to be in line by 6AM at 76th and Columbus Ave. No seats would be guaranteed after 7AM. No way were we missing this event for my wife. We left enough time to walk, in case the subway wasn’t going up to 72nd (our stop) or Uber wasn’t working or whatever. Subway ended up working perfectly and we were about 30 minutes early. Even so, we were about the 100th people in line.

Of course, that line led to another line after they opened 76th to ticket holders at 6AM. Finally, at almost 7AM, they let us onto Central Park West and led us to our COLD, metal bleacher seats.

macys thanksgiving day parade

Did I mention that it was 30 degrees outside at this point? The “feels like” temp with the wind was 24 degrees! That’s a deep freeze cold for Floridians! Oh, and the parade doesn’t start until 9AM. This is a key bit of information, since we were told the parade would be over at 9AM by several people! No, no, the parade STARTS at 9AM. Two SOLID hours following our warm behinds hitting the cold, metal bleacher seats. Have I mentioned the cold, metal, hard seats?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Fortunately, the staging process for the parade did give us a little entertainment to keep our minds off the cold….a little bit. The first couple of bands warmed up, Al Roker and Mayor De Blasio both made a couple strolls past us, and Olaf got into position for his Macy’s Parade debut.

Frozen's Olaf at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Frozen’s Olaf at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Just as I was ready to give up on the whole thing, Al Roker could be heard introducing the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the festivities got under way.

Macy's Parade Balloon Stars

Balloons passed right above us. If we were any closer, we’d be touching them. I think my favorite was the brand new Grinch balloon.

Grinch Balloon at Macy's Parade

Some people come to see the bands, some for the celebrities, my wife came for the balloons. She loved how close we were to them.

Is the Macy’s Parade Worth It?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade provides a once in a lifetime experience to see it in person. Even my wife agreed, this was a once… a lifetime experience. We don’t ever need to come back (thank God!).

By the time the parade finished and I stood up, I discovered that my knees were frozen. This is not a joke or a pun referencing the new Olaf balloon. My knees literally did not function properly from the cold. Apparently, all the layers in the world and Hot Hands could not prevent my knees from giving up.

After some calisthenics, I managed to get them operational. Functionally operational. We’re not “running” anywhere, at this point.

Tip: We had to choice to go down to 72nd St for a subway station or up to 81st. We were midway between 76th and 77th, so it was almost exactly equidistant between the two stations. We chose the uptown station and it made all the difference! Almost no one was at the 81st station. When we arrived at our first stop (the 72nd station), I could not believe the crowd waiting on the train!! Go to the uptown station!

Overall, it really wasn’t a terrible experience. This from a guy that doesn’t like parades, the city, or crowds. I never felt like the crowds were too bad. The parade is unlike any other I’ve been to, including Disney. Finally, getting to and from the parade was a breeze….pun intended.

Is it something I would have chosen to do were it not for my wife and her bucket list? Not. A. Chance. Was it worth it to see the smile on her face and help her realize a dream she’s had since she was a kid? Absolutely!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Smile

So, I guess you’d have to decide for yourself. Is going to NYC to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in person, worth it?