I don’t know how to write this post!
So I had a glass of red wine and I’m goin’ for it.
I’ve decided to separate my experience attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2022 into two posts so you get exactly what you’re looking for:
the opinion piece (the one you’re reading right now),
and the objective piece (a sort of how-to guide for seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) which will be posted immediately following this one.
So, here are my impressions and opinions on seeing this legendary parade:
In anticipation of the viewing
Today’s The day!
Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on 6th street in NYC.
As if this trip-of-a-lifetime couldn’t get any better, I woke up this morning with bees buzzing in my skin because now it’s time to prepare for the coup-de-gras of our NYC holiday trip- seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live, in the flesh.
It’s 4:30 am and I am having trouble pulling myself together. We have been told to be on the parade route by 6am to get a good spot for watching the parade, which doesn’t start until 9am. This requires a ton of strategy because:
- I want to have a kickass time at this parade
- I don’t want to ruin that by having to pee
- I don’t want to ruin that by being hungry
- I don’t want to ruin that by being cold
I want my only focus to be those giant balloons. And my sister, of course, who has already been up for hours and is marching with the band in the parade. She is the coolest person in the world.
To combat these potential obstacles to holiday merriment, I:
- Only drank a caramel-waffle protein coffee, no water!
- I scarfed down a banana, an orange, and a granola bar and hoped for the best.
- I put on all the layers that I had. Will that prevent a cutesy photo op by looking like Randy from a Christmas story? Yeah but oh well.
My parents are rock stars and left at 5:45am but we didn’t quite make it out of the hotel until 6:15am. Thankfully, we’re only about a half mile away from our planned spot on the route, right in from of Radio City Music Hall.
By this time, the first row of viewers were already settled in. We settled in the second row behind the nicest couple, and had a great view of the street since they were sitting in lawn chairs. After talking for a while with them (we had 3 hours to kill, after all), we learned that for a front row spot, you’ve got to arrive on the parade route at 4:30am.
The 3 hour wait was a doozy, but I had my family there to get hyped up/warmed up with. In her infinite wisdom, my mom brought a picnic blanket with her and so we all just camped out at our spot to wait. As we approached the t-minus 1 hour mark, people started to really pack in and we had to stand up and stand strong to keep our second row spots. Definitely not for the claustrophobic.
Even though the crowds were pushing us forward, no one tried to push in front of us which was a good thing.
I had wondered before hand if we’d see the big musical number they show on TV, but you’re only able to see that right in front of the Macy’s Department Store. This year it was the cast of Funny Woman, which is coming out on Broadway sometime this year.
Finally, finally, we reached 9am and the parade approached!
Macy’s Day Parade dictionary, for reference:
So that you understand what the hell I’m trying to say in this review, here’s a very brief dictionary of terms I made up to describe what is going on:
- Balloon float: the inflatable characters that float, wranglers pull them through the air by ropes.
- Parade float: the land-bound elaborate contraptions that are pulled by trucks, often ridden by a C-list celebrity.
- Clowns: the wonderful, fun people walking along the parade group that hype up the crowd, give high fives, and throw confetti at you. No scary clowns here.
A play-by-play of the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The first float is a giant mechanical turkey who’s head turns side to side. Mario Lopez is riding the turkey.
Next we saw my sister’s marching band. And there, in front, with a very tall cylindrical hat was her! You could just tell she was on cloud nine- imagine leading a band in the Macy’s Parade! She was literally glowing as she did those conducting waves and they all marched along. We were next to a few other band parents, and we all banded together (haha get it) to scream each band kid’s name as they passed by.
Some floats were aligned with brands, like the Green Giant (you know, the green bean man).
Then the balloon floats arrived. I always knew they were big based on TV, but the fact that these giant goofy cartoon guys are weaving between the serious gray skyscrapers is kinda surreal.
Baby Yoda (I think his god given name is Groku) was of course in attendance along with BB8 (I think, not fact checking purely for comedic effect).
Following baby groku, we were treated to another turkey. This one was golden and maybe Irish? Anyways, Paula Abdul was aboard this one.
Next was Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I know he’s a psychopath but those books are my “therapy books” and I was happy to see him pursuing the cheese touch down 6th avenue.
Next was the Pillsbury Dough Boy. An obvious sponsorship so nothing groundbreaking to say about this guy.
Next rolled up the Wampanoag parade float. Their float was a tree with clouds and a sun placed on top- it was great.
The next balloon floating by was an acorn… just a little acorn….. it was probably my favorite one barring the upcoming ‘go bowling’ float.
There are also clowns. Like, a lot of clowns.
There were clowns scattered throughout the parade. But there were especially a lot following the acorn. There were your run of the mill circus clowns, your antique clowns, your birthday clowns. Everyclown was in attendance, it seems.
They’re interspersed between the balloon and parade floats and they give high fives and throw confetti at you. I think my dad managed to high five every clown that passed by.
Following the clownfantry, we had a balloon float of Ada Twist Scientist, she looks like a cool kid. Probably one of the new cartoons kids are watching.
Next up was a dollhouse themed parade float with some doll and dapper clowns and a celebrity I didn’t recognize, I really like these elaborate floats, they are almost more exciting to see than the balloon floats.
Oh this one will grab your attention, they had a parade float with Blue and the new Steve to promote the new Blues Clues series. I LOVED that show as an early 2000s baby. New Steve has big shoes to fill, but I believe in this Steve. He seems chipper.
Next up we had some acrobat clowns.
Then was a very cool looking sad heart, which is Bad Bunny’s float. Unfortunately, Bad Bunny was nowhere to be seen. Next!
The Muppets! What a treat! They all popped out of their windows to say hello. I especially loved seeing Oscar the grouch glaring at us from his trashcan in the caboose.
The next parade float was a promo for the new Slumberland movie. I have no desire to see it but the float was really cool with a walking bed and the two main actors were out there waving to everyone, which is more than Bad Bunny can say.
The next three floats are kind of a blur so I’ll whiz by them. A Lego amalgamation: not sure what he was supposed to be but I LOVE the float wranglers’ construction outfits. Goku with blue hair: huge, very powerful for sure. Bluey: he is apparently the most popular kids cartoon character right now, I’d bet some kids days were made.
There was also a cheer team there called Spirit of America. They were peppy:
Next we had a parade float with a woman’s head on it. Unfortunately I have scoured the internet and cannot find who she is so here is a picture:
Next was a parade float with an entire. functioning. ferris wheel. I do not know how that is even mechanically possible but it was so unbelievable and I dropped my phone while trying to get a video of it when I realized Big Time Rush was aboard this float.
Look out everyone, teenage WTB is about to arrive on the scene. Because Big Time Rush is preparing to tour again and they were here. When I found out I couldn’t wait. And then they arrived on the ferris wheel float. My spirit left my body and I waved at them like it was the last time I’d ever wave. Kendall looked and pointed at me, and I SWEAR my heart did a flip flop in my chest. It was probably the best and most embarrasingly best moment of my whole entire little life.
Next up was a float of the new Disney Wish cruise ship. If everyone else marching in the parade has a 10/10 energy then the Disney people have a 15/10. I’d like what they’re having.
Next we were treated to a ginormous Spongebob balloon. No pop culture referencing escapade is complete without Spongebob, I was thrilled to see him in attendance.
Next was a float with jumping circus elephants. Not real ones, fake ones made from whatever it is they use to make these things. There was definitely a celebrity on board but because I only know celebrities that appeared on American Idol from 2005-2010 and Nickelodeon. So I’m not sure who this guy was.
And next we have (plug your ears millennial parents): Baby Shark! I don’t get all of the hate towards baby shark, I think he’s colorful and fun. I also don’t have a toddler so there’s that.
Next up is a fuck ton of dinosaurs. Dinos on the ground. Dinos in the sky. Live it, love it. The dinos in the sky is the biggest float I’ve seen yet.
Very eloquent timing, the next parade float was one step up the evolutionary chain, the alligator. I think it was from a NOLA tourism ad but the alligator is sufficient for me.
Smokey the Bear arrived next on the scene warning us not to start wildfires in a city that is probably 96% concrete and steel. It’s here that the parade stopped for a little bit, like 5-10 minutes. I’m not sure if this is normal for Macy’s, but it is for Mardi Gras parades so I was chillin. But some people around were getting agitated so maybe it’s not here.
After the party got moving again, we were treated to a Bakery parade float. there were fun little bakery clowns and another celebrity I don’t know. Nexxxxt!
Hell yeah it’s bowling time!
My favorite balloons were actually the bowling floats. Why? They were so weird. They weren’t flying balloons, they were rolling balloons. I think they were supposed to be remote controlled, but one of the pins was broken and being pushed along by a dutiful float wrangler.
There were also a couple of float wranglers that were holding signs reading “Go Bowling!”
I don’t know why, but that is the goofiest thing to me.
At one point, the parade stopped again and when they finally got going I yelled “Go bowling!”. I don’t know what possessed me to do that, but a guy holding the sign yelled back “Yeah!”. Great moment.
Next up we have the toys R us float. This one was super super fun for a sponsorship float but I had thought they went bankrupt. I guess not! Geoffery the giraffe lives on! Hark! Sing ho!
Next they had a world cup balloon floats. Floats with a plural because they designed this one amazingly- it’s a guy on the ground kicking a bunch of soccer balls up into the air. This one got the crowd super excited and this is when I realized these balloon floats are really a work of art on their own.
Next was another balloon titan- ronald mcdonald. He was easily the biggest float there, so utterly massive was this clown that he couldn’t even fit into my phone camera’s frame. He gets begrudging respect for me. Shortly behind was an Oldsmobile carrying the real mcdonalds legends like Grimace and my personal hero, the Hamburgler, who doesn’t need fancy tricks to steal my heart.
Next up was a wonderbread float, simple and also an ad.
Then we had a whole string of back to back balloon floats: Snoopy in space, Papa smurf, and of course: a minion.
There’s a whole team of float-carriers who hold the ropes for each float, and they all dress to the theme of their float. My favorites were the people carrying the minion float- they were dressed up as bananas. The ones not holding the ropes were running ahead and screaming in terror. If you look really closely, the minion is holding a banana-person in his evil clutches.
I never trusted minions.
Then you had some jester clowns. The parade stopped again so my dad got a lot of high fives here.
The next float was also a stroke of architectural genius. A little balloon doll swinging form a hot air balloon. Utterly cute.
Next: a holographic peacock that stared right at me…. next!
A winter-themed color guard stole the show. If you don’t know what a color guard is, they basically twirl these sparkley flags in synchronization and it is very difficult to do.
Next, and easily one of the coolest parts of the whole Macy’s Parade, was the balloon-puppet-reindeer, ‘Tiptoe’. This little blue deer can be walked down the street to nuzzle little kids in the crowd, and the way they made her walk, prance, and sniff was excitingly lifelike amongst a row of paralyzed drifting characters.
Next we had a parade float of a massive advent calendar with three celebrities on board.
Following was a float on what appears to be the expanded Elf on the Shelf cinematic universe. Sounds fun but smells like commercialization.
Next up I call this the ‘Winter Wonderland’ section. There were two floating winter orbs which mesmerized me with their simplicity and lovely patterns. Same reason I like the acorn, I think.
There were also winter clowns, winter dancers, and a wooden ice-dragon-train. Similar to Tiptoe, the winter dragon can weave along the street and interact with paradegoers, but I just love how he weaves around like a snake contraption.
Next we had a carousel parade float and a Pikachu balloon float. The wind picked up at this part and Pikachu was swaying side to side precariously, I was worried he was gonna hit a building! Thankfully his wranglers were vigilant and he didn’t sustain any injuries that I saw.
At this point the parade was drawing to a close.
Here approached my favorite parade float, a huge Christmas tree like the one at Rockefeller’s but it was full of carolers waving and singing Christmas songs. Followed by a candy cane balloon and finally, Santa and Mrs. Clause!
With that, the Macy’s Parade heralded Thanksgiving day and the beginning of the Christmas season.
What a glorious hour and a half it was. As I’m writing this, I am surprised by how going back through my photos brings back such a sense of excitement. I think the word ‘magical’ gets way overused in the travel world, but I think what I’m trying to convey with this word is the specific giddy brand of happiness I get from feeling so small, like a kid. How everything is big and bright and loud and it doesn’t make sense, but that sort of atypical bewilderment makes the season of Christmas feel special. So in the short-phrase, I’ll call that Christmas magic.
Or since it’s still Thanksgiving, Christgiving magic.
Everyone in the parade from the band members, to the float wranglers, to the clowns all look like they’re having so much fun. It makes me wanna be in it! The excitement was definitely contagious and kept me having fun throughout the whole hour and a half.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my family and I have a Margaritaville thanksgiving dinner to go and eat.
No, that is not a joke.