The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the most popular holiday parade in America. It first started in 1924. It’s rich history draws 3.5 million people each year to come see what it’s all about in person. It’s publicized on NBC, a television network on Thanksgiving Day, and attracts another 50 million viewers!
Largest Store in the World
The parade is 3 hours long and spans 2.5 miles. The original parade was 6 miles long! The parade starts on West 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at Macy’s Herald Square. Macy’s department store is the largest store in the world. It over 2 million square feet of retail space over 10+ floors. As we always say, if you can’t find what you need at this Macy’s, you haven’t looked hard enough.
Larger than Life Parade Floats
The parade itself has hundreds of floats. The float sizes can be as wide as 26 feet and nearly 30 feet tall! And if the character has a tail, that can span 80 feet long! 12,000 cubic feet of helium is needed for these gigantic floats that weigh up to 750 pounds!! It takes about 90 people to hold these floats down as they walk the parade route with their float in hand. They even have people who walk the floats walking backwards in order to navigate the float. This is not an easy feat! It’s definitely a huge undertaking and takes months of preparation.
There are some signature floats that the Macys Day Parade has each year. Snoopy, Hello Kitty, The Macy’s Elves. Ronald McDonald, and Santa Clause are some to name a few.
They do add new ones each year which is really nice. This way you can return each year, and feel like you are watching a brand new parade!
The Parade also has marching bands from different high schools and colleges-the best of the best! The famous New York Police Department also participates! It is a great sight to see!
Best Places to Stay
Depending on your budget, you can either stay right where the action is or further away from it all. We stayed close to Macys at Best Western Premier Herald Square. This is a nice, clean 3 star hotel. Technically you could stay anywhere along this area. But the Best Western Premier had better reviews. We initially thought we could see the parade from here which is another reason we chose to stay here. We found out you cannot. It’s actually barricaded by the New York Police Department. The area across from Macys on Herald Square is usually the area where television crews film everything. So unless you are VIP, you cannot stay in this area to watch.
But we also stayed here because of Black Friday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving which is the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s nice to be able to put all your bags back into your room when all the shopping is right around the corner from you! So since we could not watch from this area, we took the subway to Columbus Circle. The subway is conveniently located on 34 St.-Herald Square so at the end of the street. And it took us 4 stops, about 7 minutes to get to Columbus Circle. And then we walked over to the JW Marriott Essex House New York area. The walk is about 5 minutes.
The JW Marriott Essex House is another great place to stay if you have a higher budget, as all the action is right here. The JW Marriott is a 5 star hotel which runs about $378 a night! It is very close to Central Park which is a must thing to visit when visiting New York City. And it’s also close to Carnegie Hall which is a great for theatre and concerts.
Parade Prep time
Being that this is the most popular parade in America, you have to plan ahead in order to see this. The parade starts at 9 a.m. and ends at noon time. We stood for at least 3 hours in one spot in order to see this parade. So get here at about 6 am. to have a spot. Wear layers of clothes in case you get warm, but it’s unlikely. The amount of people that will be around you is a lot, so stay close to your family and friends, as you can easily lose them.
Where are the bathrooms?
So this is an interesting question. First of all don’t drink too much. However, it will likely be very cold when you visit this time of year. So coffee or hot cocoa is a great thing to be drinking when you are out here for several hours. If you need to go to the bathroom, plan on going only once, and do it at least an hour before the parade starts. I left my husband at this spot and walked to this particular Starbucks. This was my saving grace, as it’s very difficult to find a bathroom in New York City. Most establishments will not let you go to the bathroom, as they are for employees only, or in restaurants for their customers only. Thankfully, this Starbucks had clean restrooms and they are open early. There was a line, but worth waiting for. It took me a very long time to walk to this Starbucks as you will travel in a herd of people to get here. And then, thankfully, I was able to find myself back to where my husband was waiting for me. This too was not an easy task, as people did not want to let you in, as they have been holding their spot for a long time as well. Once the parade is done though and the crowd clears, it’s much easier to find the bathroom so just plan a head.
Overall the Parade was amazing. We got to see the famous singer/songwriter Mariah Carey and Andy Grammer. Each year the parade is filled with different famous artists. While we had a great view of them, unless you are in the VIP section near Herald Square, you can’t watch them sing.
The parade ends with Santa of course, which is your cue to figure out how you will get out of the area safely.
The Macys Thanksgiving Parade should be a bucket list item but it doesn’t take a way from the experience you have at home where you can catch all the entertainment and commentary from your home television unit within the comforts of a warm place, snacks, and a bathroom whenever you need it.
***Note***While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade did occur in 2020, due to COVID, they did not allow people to watch it at the location. So plan your fabulous trip for next year! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and don’t forget to subscribe!