Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2009

As promised, here is my post about us heading down to the city to watch Macy's 83rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. We've always watched the parade on TV every year but it's our first time watching it live. Usually we would be back in Pittsburgh or will be too busy cooking/hosting Thanksgiving dinner to even think about going to the city. However, since we didn't go back to Pittsburgh and it's just the two of us this Thanksgiving, we decided to go check it out.
We woke up bright and early (we left the apartment by 6:30am) and headed to Journal Square to take the PATH to the WTC station. Look at Kevin's sleepy eyes and unshaven look...yup, it's early! :P Even though the parade only starts at 9am, many people would go early just so that we can get a decent spot to watch the parade. We learnt from various past parades in the city that you have to arrive at least 2 hours before the parade to get a decent spot or you will end up just looking at the back of other peoples heads.
From the WTC PATH station, we took the C train uptown to Columbus Circle. You can see from the crowd forming that there will be lots of people at the parade. You see all those people standing behind the barricades? That's not even part of the parade route. They were just hoping to catch the big balloons in a distance!
Here is the parade route. This year, they unveiled a new route. For the first time ever, the parade will skip Broadway. As usual, it will begin at Central Park West and 77th St. It will then make it's way down to Columbus Circle and turn into Central Park South. It will then go down 7th Avenue, pass Times Square, make a turn on 42nd St and ending in Macy's (of course) Herald Square. We decided to watch the parade from the corner of 57th St and 7th Ave, just by Carnegie Hall.
I'm glad we arrived early. Look at the crowd forming behind us! There were only about one to two layers of people in front of us, so we had a pretty decent view! :D
The parade started at around 9am up on 77th St. So by the time it made it's way down to us, it was already about 9:20am. The parade opened with the Macy's marching band and the Radio City Rockettes marching down the street. The atmosphere was just electrifying. It's something that you can't see or feel from watching it on TV back home. Everybody was excited and cheering, a pretty amazing feeling.
The first giant character balloon that came down the street was the giant Spiderman balloon. It's one of the four new balloons introduced to the parade this year. The other three are the Sailor Mickey balloon, Pillsbury Doughboy balloon and the Ronald McDonald balloon. Here are some of the other giant balloons from the parade.
This is my favorite float from the whole parade. The Sesame Street float! I've pretty much grown up on Sesame Street and to actually see the cast and muppets in real life was really cool. Most of the cast looked way older than I remember them to be, but of course. I'm not exactly that young anymore myself :P
There were all kinds of floats with various themes. In total, there were 24 floats, 10 marching bands, 15 giant character balloons and 35 novelty or ornament balloons, balloonheads and balloonicles. Seen here is Miss America 2009, Katie Stam and NYC Men's Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi on the Spirit of Liberty float and The Pizzarelli Quartet riding on the Marion-Carol Showboat float.
Apart from floats and giant balloons, there were also a whole lot of performers and entertainers. In fact, the parade featured a total of 800 clowns and 1,500 dancers, cheerleaders, singers and performers! How cool is that? :D
With fancy floats, giant balloons and a host of clowns, performers and entertainers, what else could a parade offer? Celebrities! Lots of them! Some of the celebrities that took part in the parade were Gloria Gaynor, Carly Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Bello, Andrea Bocelli, Keke Palmer, Grandma and the cast of the Big Apple Circus, the cast of Hair, Boys Like Girls, DJ Lance Rock and the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Kermit the Frog and Tiffany Thornton, the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, cast of Billy Elliot, Sarah Hughes, Jane Krakowski, cast of Bye Bye Birdie, Ziggy Marley with Judah Marley, Miss America 2009 - Katie Stam, the Radio City Rockettes, Katharine McPhee, Mitchel Musso, The Pizzarelli Quartet, cast of Shrek and Jay Sean. Not only could you spot celebrities in the parade, but you can also see them watching the parade from the balconies/windows of their expensive West Central Park condos. Among those spotted were Antonio Bandares and his wife Melanie Griffith as well as Michael Douglas and his kids. Seen here in the pink castle is Cyndi Lauper and you can also see Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on the giant Les Paul guitar.

The parade lasted over 2 hours and the finale to the parade was an appearance by the big man himself - Santa Claus on his sleigh! With that, it officially marks the beginning of the Holiday Season and the end of the parade. With such a big crowd, you would think that it was a pain to get home. Well, we figured that out from the start. We chose a spot that was only a few steps away from the elevator that takes us down to the subway. From past experiences, we knew that the Santa Claus was always the last to appear in any parade. So, the moment Santa came by, we just made a dash to the elevator, took it down to the subway and jumped on the first train there is out of that area. With that, we managed to get out of the area fast and also avoided the crowd. So, where did we go after that? Ahhh, keep on reading. That will be in the next post! :D

* For more photos of the parade, all the balloons and floats, head over to my Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade album on Facebook. Just click here

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