My first Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC

When you think of New York, one of the first things that come to your mind, after the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square, is the Christmas Holiday Season in the City with its lights, its decorated windows, its magical Christmas atmosphere and with the famous Ball Drop at Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Having the possibility of being in New York for the whole Holiday period, I wanted to immerse myself completely in this atmosphere, starting from Thanksgiving Day … a very special day for the Americans, a real collective ritual, with lunch (or dinner) strictly in the family, where the undisputed king is the famously stuffed turkey.

Over the turkey on this day famous throughout the USA, there is the Thanksgiving Day Parade which runs across in the streets of Mid-town Manhattan, a parade organized by Macy’s (the most famous department store in Manhattan), animated by many huge inflatable balloon puppets, one of the biggest parades that exist since 1924 and that all Americans, on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, watch on television. Which better opportunity to attend an event so celebrated and important in all the USA.


After a deep search on internet about the route, the best places to watch the parades and especially the time, I understand that like every great event that takes place in the Big Apple, clearly attracts many people and then to enjoy the parade I have to be there very early in the morning, as the parade starts at 9 AM.

As if that were not enough, the weather forecast says that there will be a splendid sun … but an icy cold temperature…and when in New York it’s cold, it means it’s really really cold… in fact, they are expected around 30 degrees Fahrenheit (about 0 degrees Celcius).

So I put the alarm at 6.30 AM, I get ready, I dress as if I went to the North Pole, I go to take the subway, arriving in the centre of Manhattan, I head to 6th Avenue, where the parade will pass and trying to avoid the closed roads by police, I finally arrive at 8 AM at the cross with 43th Street from which I want to enjoy the marvellous show..and I wait.

Proud of my place almost in the front row, I wait for, anxious and freezing, the parade

And I’m waiting … I’m waiting … I’m waiting …

In the meantime, I don’t see many people crowd the sidewalks of the streets, or rather much less than I expected, perhaps because of the cold temperatures that have discouraged many who stayed at home in the cosy warmth.
After about 2 hours of waiting, standing and frozen, despite my clothing from the Arctic expedition, I finally see the parade comin’.

People finally get warm and start to celebrate, shouting and cheering the passage of these huge balloon puppets representing the characters most loved by children. Here it comes Charlie Brown, the Pokemon, the ever-present giant turkey than … what’s that? The giant Ronald McDonald balloon ?? … OK, Whatever…

Perhaps during my wait and reading in the previous days what this parade represents for the Americans, I had so many expectations about the event and I honestly don’t know well which ones … maybe more festive, funnier, more cheerfully, more musically, more amazing!


I see these balloons, one after the other, very slowly, very far from each other, with some band in the middle, like this for about one and half hour and at the end, I was thinkin’ … “That’s all?”


As I said, maybe I had too many expectations, also because I saw other parades, like those held during the carnival in Italy and I thought this was way much better.
Maybe if I had been a child, I would have been amazed by those balloons, by the cheerleaders, by Santa’s sleigh…

Maybe if it wasn’t that freezin’ cold I would have enjoyed it more…
Maybe if I had never seen a parade in my life…
Maybe if I had not made so many expectations…
Maybe if I had seen the parade from another spot…

Maybe it was better if I stayed home and watch it on TV …

Francesco Duri


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