For anyone who watches the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade each year and wishes that they could go, I want to share a true story with you....
I live on the north shore of Long Island - about an hour's drive or train ride from Manhattan. We watch the parade every year - it's a tradition in our house. I actually use the parade to help time my dinner preparations!
Back in the late 80's when my kids were younger, we decided that we wanted to go to the city and watch the parade 'in person'. First of all, we forgot that the parade doesn't actually start at 9am (EST) - well it does, but that's all the way uptown on Central Park West in the West 70's and we were going to stand down by Macy's itself (34th Street).
So we left the house at 5:30 am and took the train in so we wouldn't have to hassle with gridlock and parking. The kids loved the train ride anyway because they rarely 'rode the rails' (as the commuters here say). We got into Penn Station a little before 7 am and grabbed some coffee, hot chocolate for the kids and lots of Dunkin' Munchkins. We walked up and over a block to 34th Street and 6th Avenue (the parade route). Since there were bleachers for the VIPs in front of Macy's itself and television cameras and crew situated directly across from it, we had no choice but to walk up 3 blocks to an area that only had a few people already standing on the sidewalk.
And did I mention that it was the coldest day of the year? Well, we lucked out a little because we picked a spot at the curb directly in front of a subway grate (which equals a miniscule amount of heat, but that was better than nothing!) We settled in and started drinking our warm beverages and eating munchkins. And we were happy!
The crowd of spectators grew as we ate and before you knew it, our area was 6 deep from curbside to storefront. We finished our 'breakfast' and craned our necks to see what was going on down by Macy's. You couldn't see much, so the police activity became our source of amusement while we waited for the parade to work its way down to us.
The kids started whining...."We're cold!" "I can't feel my feet anymore" "When is the parade going to start?" and then the best..."I have to go to the bathroom!"
Oh, wonderful....where am I going to find one of those?! I looked around to see where I might be able to take this child, but all you could see were people! I told my husband that I would do this tour of bathroom duty and to hold our place. As I turned to work my way through the crowd, the other two chimed in that they 'had to go' too! My husband looked at me and said, "we'll all go".
If you have ever been in gridlock, you know how slowly you move. Well, people gridlock is almost worse because you really can't move...at least not at a parade! No one wants to lose their position, so they are not very gracious about letting you get by!
It must have taken 15 minutes to go up 2 blocks, but we lucked out and found a Korean Grocery Store that was open. We must have really looked bedraggled at this point because the owner took pity on us and allowed the kids to use the restroom. We bought some gum as a way of saying 'thanks' and went back to the street.
The parade had begun, but all we could see were the high-flying balloons! There was no way to get a better view and we were in a 'walking lane' on the sidewalk, so we went with the other pedestrians. When we got to the corner and could see that there was no way that we were going to be able to see the entire parade, we made a collective decision to get the heck out of there and go out to eat.
After walking down to 5th Avenue, we were able to hail a cab. We took it to the one place that we knew we would get a great meal....Chinatown! I know, 'rah, rah, rah, rah, rah...rah rah rah rah'! We were like the family from A Christmas Story - displaced, hungry and eating Chinese food on a major holiday!
Once we were warm and had full bellies, we started finding the humor in the whole situation. And besides, as the kids pointed out, we had our brand new VCR recording the parade, so we could all sit and watch it together when we got home.
Except for one thing....when I set the timer for 9...I did PM instead of AM!
We have watched the parade from home every year since!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!