The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is a tradition in New York and across the country as millions of people tune in or come out live to see the floats and larger than life balloons parade through the streets of Manhattan each year. But seeing the balloons up close, the night before they take flight, is the real treat.
77th and 81st streets between Columbus and Central Park West are home to the balloons before their big debut and the public is welcome from 3PM to 10PM to come out to the Upper West Side for a sneak peak as they’re inflated and prepared for next day.
More than 30 balloons line the streets, just an arm’s length away. With Christmas music playing in the background and the crowd in a great mood, it’s fun to cruise by and see the classics from Kermit the Frog, Buzz Lightyear, Smurf, Hello Kitty and Spider Man. Or in some cases to try to recognize which famous character is lying face down below its protective net…we needed assistance to get Snoopy as the Flying Ace! Taking flight for the first time in this year’s 84th Annual Parade are Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai and Kiki and Kung Fu Panda and of course, the grand finale is the best, as Santa rings in the start of the Christmas season.
There’s nothing quite like going behind the scenes of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the balloon inflation and seeing the balloons in all their glory before they take flight the next day as they make their way from the Upper West Side to 34th Street in front of Macy’s, who’s been making the day special for 84 years.