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Blowing Up Thanksgiving

Jeff Linamen

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MacysBalloon08When I think of Thanksgiving, three things immediately come to mind: family, turkey and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

What was it about the parade?

As a kid, it was all about the balloons. As I got older, it became more about the chance to get a glimpse of current and upcoming Broadway performances.

Balloon WorkThe parade has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I have memories of watching it on TV in different houses and at different times in my life. It’s always been a tradition, no matter where I am. Finally, as an adult, I actually got to experience the parade live. Three times, actually.

There’s nothing in the world as exciting as spending the holidays in New York City. There’s also no place in the world that’s busier.

Michael and I have spent multiple Thanksgiving weeks in NYC; on our own, with family and with friends.  The biggest thrill for me was having the chance to fulfill that childhood fantasy: seeing Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, up close and personal.

If crowds aren’t your thing, it might be a little difficult. I just recommend you avoid areas like Columbus Circle, Times Square and Macy’s itself, unless you are connected and have a reserved viewing spot. It’s crowded all along the parade route, but if you set out early and bring along your patience– it’s an unbeatable experience.


Balloons lined up as crowds view the inflation in 2008.

One of my most memorable experiences was in 2008, when I went to the balloon inflation on Thanksgiving Eve. Years ago, the inflation took place over night in Central Park. People could wander through, all night long and watch all the workers; busy readying the balloons for their big flight. In more recent years, it has become an event and they started inflating the balloons earlier in the day– so families could bring their children to witness the magic coming to life.

This year the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation takes place Wednesday November 26th, near the American Museum of Natural History, from 3 to 10pm. You enter at W 79th Street at Columbus Avenue.

2008 Kermit during the balloon inflation.

2008 Kermit during the balloon inflation.

The later you go, the more the balloons will have taken shape. It’s also more crowded (later). You walk along at your own pace and are sure to get a great, close up view of some of your favorite balloon characters.

I’ve heard (and read) of many people having good and bad experiences; but all agree, it’s one of those things you must do at least once.

I loved it and would do it again.

2008 Spongebob beign inflated for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

2008 Spongebob beign inflated for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

( I took all the photos featured here during the 2008 balloon inflation.)

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