Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ten Things I Learned About The Macy's Parade

IMG_26111. The marching bands have dress rehearsal at 3 in the morning.
I wanted to catch my son as they marched past the Macy’s, but I overslept and didn’t get down until Herald Square until quarter til four. I did catch the last few bands doing their final walk-throughs. Even then the streets were blocked off so much that the best view was at the corner of 33rd and Broadway as the bands turned the corner from their performance.

IMG_26352. They take down all the lamp posts and traffic lights in Times Square for the parade.
A giant fleet of utility trucks comes through and removes anything a balloon could get snagged on. They lift them up to cranes and lower them onto trucks for safekeeping. Then after the parade, they come back and put them all back up again.

3. Everybody wants to see the parade, but some people have better connections than others.
A great place to see the parade struck me as being at Columbus Circle. But the sidewalks at 2 Columbus Circle where the parade turns from West Central Park onto Broadway was completely blocked off by police barricades. You had to show some secret pass to even be let into this particular area. The statue of Columbus in the circle named after him had a viewing platform built around it. The only people allowed on that platform arrived in police SUVs and were escorted by cops that seemed to be on a first name basis with the VIPs.

P10206594. It’s really hard to take good pictures of people marching in the parade.
Unless you pick your spot on the sidewalk at 4:30 in the morning, You run the risk of being three to four people back and unless you have unusually steady posture, the surging and pushing of the crowd behind you will jiggle any image you try to take.

5. There are rude people in the crowds.
Down in the crowd some loud mouthed obnoxious New Yohka pushed herself and her son to the front of the crowd in front of people that had been there for hours. When they complained, she threatened to call the cops. After a few minutes, she decided the view wasn’t good enough, so she shoved her way out to the back of the crowd.

P10206706. There are rude people overlooking the parade.
At our hotel brunch, the people with tables right at the window had the best views but they were very accommodating of people wanting to stand between the tables to see the street below. The littlier kids were being allowed to sit on the fairly wide ledge between the tables so they could watch the whole parade. One guy, taking a cue from his grandkids, climbed up on the window ledge and sat there with his legs stretched out. Only the place he picked was in front of a table of complete strangers. This eventually annoyed the people whose table was next to his feet, but he wouldn’t budge. It took three hotel staff members to convince him to climb out of the window and stand around the window like everybody else.

P10206567. The balloons are HUGE.
No matter how bad your view in the crowd is, you can see these floating characters from anywhere. From a third floor window these balloons were frightening. Some of the bigger ones were Shrek, Buzz Lightyear, and inexplicably, Beethoven the Saint Bernard.

IMG_26768. The celebrities are there for the TV cameras.
While they do ride the floats for the whole parade, all the regular parade watchers are going to see is someone bundled up in an overcoat waving. I had no idea that the person in the white jacket on the M&M Broadway themed float was Idina Menzel, aka the green witch from Wicked.

9. The pacing of the parade is very erratic.
Near the beginning, the floats just whiz by and the balloon wranglers seem to be going at a quick jog. Later, as the queue at Herald Square backs up, the bands will have to march in place for minutes at a time before moving up. Since our son was in the second band, he raced down the street. If he had been with the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes, we would have had time to go down and have a chat with him.

P102067510. Everybody has to see Santa and he is worth the wait.
After two hours of bands and floats and baton twirlers passing by, even the most jaded bruncher had to go to the window to see Santa. His snow goose throne is “pulled” by some gorgeously sculpted reindeer. And Santa himself is everything you expect him to be.

You can get a better look at any picture by clicking on it or check out the Flickr set for even more photos.


Anonymous said...

Didn't I tell you that being at the parade was a big bowl of cool, though?

I was situated on Central Park West, several blocks north of Columbus Circle. The light fixtures weren't so much of a problem as the trees on the park side were. A few times, the balloons had to stop, the cable would be pulled in (or let out, as appropriate) to accommodate the trees, and the balloon would continue forward.

Apropos of that, I miss the Bullwinkle balloon. Beethoven was in the parade because of a new direct-to-video film that just went on sale (and thank goodness I had Matt Lauer to tip me off to that tidbit! I might have missed it!)

The Broadway/TV/whatever people who are bundled up usually have a banner ahead of them with their name on it. On the other hand, you have to have a pretty good view to catch that.

Did you know there's also a Silence Zone for several blocks north of Herald Square, so that TV viewers will only hear one band at a time?

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

The whole idea of trying to negotiate that kind of madness gives me claustrophobia. Thanks for letting me experience it vicariously through you.