NYC Tips for the Attending Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Last Wednesday the bleachers appeared at the south-west corner Central Park. This Thursday New York’s biggest parade hits the streets. A tradition throughout the country, most Americans watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. If spending the holiday in NYC, you have the rare opportunity to watch it from the cold curb of the city rather than the warmth of your living room! As unappealing I just made that sound, it really is a wonderful experience. You just need to be prepared! I went last year and had a great time you can read all about here. You’ll have an even better because you can learn from my experience!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2015

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tips

Tip #1: Watch the parade from Central Park West.

The parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at Macy’s on 34th Street. My advice is to catch the beginning, between the first ten blocks anywhere between 77th and 67th. I watched at 68th and CPW last year and had a great view and got to sit on the steps of a church on that corner. Take that spot, it was great! The closer you get to Macy’s, the crazier and more crowded things get, so avoid that up at the start!


Tip #2: Set your alarm for an ungodly hour.

Last year I arrived at 68th and Central Park West at 6:25AM. The front row was already staked out and claimed but other than there weren’t a lot of people filling the sidewalks. This year Thanksgiving is supposed to be unseasonably warm with a high of 61 degrees. If you want a prime view, get there at 6AM. If you just want to see the parade the main feature of which is giant balloons (above your head no matter your location!), I think your safe to arrive at sunrise: 6:52AM. There is a world of difference between waiting in the dark and waiting in the daylight, take my word for it. Also this gives you an excuse to watch the sun rise over Central Park.


Tip #3: Don’t expect performances.

If you want to see performances, stay home and watch them on TV. Performances take place in VIP areas by Columbus Circle and Herald Square. Even if you arrive at 4AM you won’t be granted access to these areas unless you have MAJOR Macy’s connections. So come to see if Mariah Carey will actually be on a float and waving to people throughout the route, or if she’ll be a total diva and only bring it for the performances.

Meghan Trainor is on this float from 2014. You can see her waving from the top right, but she sure didn’t perform except for the TV cameras!

Tip #4: The value of hot food and beverages cannot be underestimated.


Bring a thermos of hot chocolate or tea. I would say coffee, but it’s a diuretic and that last thing you want to do is need to pee! Bring a cup of coffee for the beginning and the thermos for when that cup is cold. It’s amazing how warming hot liquid is! Standing out in the cold is much better when you’re eating so even if you’re running behind schedule, take the time to grab breakfast. Finally, spike that hot cocoa or coffee with Bailey’s or rum or really anything you got.  If you’re not watching the parade with children, being a little tipsy will make everything a little warmer and more fun. It’s a holiday! But be responsible and discrete. DUH.


Tip #5: Wear way more clothing than you think you need.

I know I said the high of the day is 61, which is all well and good, but the low is 48. Standing in one place, not moving is a much colder experience than you might think. Especially for your extremities. You might think it’s extreme, but wear thick wool socks and long underwear. Just do it, you’ll thank me. It’s early in the morning, it’s dark, the worst thing to be is cold.


Tip #6: Treat yourself like a petulant child who needs to be amused for 2-3 hours.

Bring anything that will make waiting around for several hours a less than painful experience. Games, light up crowns (pictured above), a ukulele to jam on. Call your family and wish them Happy Thanksgiving, unless they are in California where it is 4AM thanks to the time difference… Make friends with the people standing around you: chances are some of them know someone in the parade and traveled from the midwest to see them. If you have a blog all about NYC, bring business cards and tell them to follow it!


Tip #7: Expect your phone to die: power up!

You’ll probably be on your phone a lot while waiting and during the parade you’ll probably want to take a lot of pictures. My phone didn’t make it to the end of last year’s parade and it was a major bummer! The crowds drain battery life and make sending messages and posts difficult too. So plan for that.


Will you be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2015? As much fun as I had last year, I’m not making my physical attendance a yearly tradition. Watching from a warm living room and remembering last year sounds just great for me! But I’d love to hear how it goes for anyone who is attending. Or has gone in the past- do you have tips to add?

For a lot more pictures and details on what attending the parade is exactly like, read my post on the 2014 parade: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Up Close and in Person!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

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