The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the largest celebration of its kind. Over 3.5 million people watch the parade along the parade route in Manhattan and another 50 million watch at home on television. For many there is no substitute for seeing the floats, enormous balloons and marching bands in person. If you’re planning to view the parade in person from the streets of New York City, this is your insider guide for making the most of it. This year, Hello Kitty and Papa Smurf will be among those making an appearance in Midtown. Will you?
1010 WINS is the Official radio station of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Can’t be there to watch? Listen live!
Parking in Manhattan is always tight, but Thanksgiving Day it’s nearly impossible. From Westchester & Connecticut, your best bet is taking a Metro-North train to Grand Central Station. It’s an easy walk west from Grand Central to the parade route on 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. From Long Island take the LIRR to Penn Station. From there you can head due east to the parade route one block to Macy’s – or head north first to get to a better viewing spot on 7th Ave in the 40s.If you must drive, consider coming in to the city around 6:00am in order to get a spot in nearby lots on the Upper West Side or near Lincoln Center where garages abound.
Your best bet within the city is to stick to the subway. You can download the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade app by clicking here. Powered by MyCityWay, the iPhone or Android app will allow spectators to interact with the parade in real time. Plus, it has a real-time Santa Tracker, so you’ll be sure to stake out a good spot for the main attraction.
Other Thanksgiving Day travel tips:
The Night Before
Balloon Inflation 3 p.m. -10 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21st
What started out as an event that only locals knew about, the pre-Thanksgiving balloon inflation has turned into its own must-see Thanksgiving event. See Abby Cadabby, Snoopy and all the gigantic Macy’s parade balloons come to life as they inflate on the streets near the American Museum of Natural History on 77th and 81st Streets between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
Route Changes For 2012
Widening pedestrian plazas and other factors have made it necessary for Macy’s to slightly alter the Thanksgiving day parade route this year. The parade will kick off early Thursday at 77th and Central Park West as usual. It will head down along CPW to Columbus Circle, before making a left and heading along Central Park South to 6th Avenue. Once at 6th Avenue, the parade will continue south until 34th Street, where it will make a right and head to Macy’s at Herald Square. For more information on the parade route, click here.
For more info on bridges and road closures, click here.
Where to Watch
Plan to arrive at 6 a.m. to get a prime viewing spot. While many choose to watch from Central Park West, that tends to be the windiest and shadiest part of the route. Instead head to 42nd Street around 6th Avenue and the path along 6th Avenue to 34th Street. The sidewalks are wider and less-crowded there. You’re also more likely to find food in delis and nearby coffee shops in this area.
Tips, Tricks And Things To Remember
Coming with little kids? Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Bathrooms are scarce. Hotels around the route are your best bet as well as at The Time Warner Center.
Leave the stroller at home, or plan on bringing one that folds easily and can be carried. Trying to get through the crowds with a stroller can be impossible – not to mention scary for your kid. Instead think light and easy to carry for your child and the stroller.
Pack snacks! While delis and Duane Reade stores are usually open along the route waiting around for hours is a long time, especially for little ones. Avoid meltdowns by supplying your own treats.
Dress warm and in layers. Even if it’s milder than usual on Turkey Day standing outside for 6 hours can get pretty cold. Hats and gloves will keep you and your parade watching family happy and warm.