Inflating the NY Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Balloons

I grew up in New York and never had a chance to see the balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade being inflated before around the American Museum of Natural History. You get a behind the scenes look at how the parade comes together, which on average, has staggering costs between $11.6 million and $13.4 million. It was helpful to find tips from Mommy Poppins and TripSavvy on what to expect the Wednesday before Thanksgiving from 1:00 – 8:00pm.

Planning ahead for next year, it’s best to line up before it officially begins at 1:00pm to beat the crowds on 74th St and Columbus Ave.

12:40pm: When we got to the line, there were probably less than 50 people or so ahead of us; the line grew quickly behind us.

1:00pm: Line started moving as we walked freely onto 74th St on a closed off street, but we were stalled as we drew closer to Central Park Ave.

1:30pm: We proceeded left to Central Park Ave and then the official entrance was at 77th St, where we were greeted by Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen” and the line dispersed. Since it was Olaf’s first flight, it cost Disney $190,000 as opposed to returning sponsors who pay $90,000 for their balloons. We were able to take our time and leisurely walk around the perimeter of the museum looking at the 17 official balloons and other novelty balloons being inflated.

2:30pm: Finished our viewing and walk around the museum at 81st and Columbus Ave. It was about 1 hour of waiting and 1 hour of viewing. As we looked back at the viewers, the number of people increased and there was not as much open space as we had experienced going earlier in the day.

The best part of watching the balloons being inflated was the next day of the actual parade when we had insight as to which balloons to expect – our not so little secret. We viewed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which originally began in 1924, from Columbus Circle. In case we needed shelter or a restroom, we could make our way to the Time Warner Center for respite from the 3.5 million spectators traveling to New York City to see the parade in person. What we have watched on TV all these years came to life. Was it worth standing from 6:00am to find a spot and waiting 5 hours later until it ended at 11:00am? Yes and no. Yes, for the experience. No, for our numb faces and toes and children complaining. Yes, because we can say we were there and as an added bonus, we were on Good Morning America waving to millions of TV and internet viewers. Yes, because we are thankful for our special experience on Thanksgiving.

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