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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Balloon inflation for families

November 21, 2011

Kermit gets an air boost the night before at the balloon inflation

The holiday excitement is beginning and it always seems like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Balloon Inflation kick it off. So, how do you manage this with a family? Is it doable? Yes!

The parade:
The parade is in its 85th year and Macy’s is celebrating this year with some new floats. The parade route begins at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 am and then will march south on 7th Avenue, ending at – where else? Macy’s. Don’t count on doing any shopping though, Macy’s is closed that day.

Most families I know get there around 6:30 am and find a spot in the west 70’s to hang out and enjoy the beginning of the parade that starts at 9 am. The nice thing about arriving so early is you get a good viewing spot, you see the beginning of the parade and then can leave to watch the rest of it from home or do something fun in the city afterward. It does mean your family will be out in the cold for around 3.5 hours, so make sure you dress warmly and bring some hot drinks to keep you all warm. What to do afterward? Your kids will most likely need someplace warm to escape to and some food to digest. For activities, I suggest heading to the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park Zoo or if you are feeling really ambitious: skating at Wollman rink. For food, take a look at minimunchers site to see which restaurants are appealing to you on the Upper West Side. I would suggest going a bit off the parade route to places like Artie’s Deli or EJ’s Luncheonette.

The balloon inflation:
The balloon inflation the night before is fabulous.  Your kids can watch some of their favorite characters slowly come to life in preparation for their big day at the Macy’s parade.  The inflation viewing hours are from 3 pm- 10 pm along 77th and 81st Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue (essentially around the American Museum of Natural History).    The best time to arrive is around 4:30 pm when the balloons actually start to look like something and the audience oohs and ahhs. There are a lot of people at the viewing, but everyone goes in a civil loop around the museum to see all the balloons.  It’s not dissimilar from the way they cycle you through seeing the most popular holiday windows. It’s really fun, crowded and a way to “see” the parade without waiting in the cold for many hours the next morning. Enter at 77th Street and Columbus Ave. The full loop lets you out at 81st Street and Columbus Ave, but you can exit at every city block too if you prefer.

If you go to the inflation- you can get your photo taken with Santa!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 from 4:00pm-7:00pm
Santa at PhotoOp

PhotoOp, the contemporary family portrait studio located on 81st and Columbus, will add to the festivities surrounding the Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation on Wednesday, November 23, by offering complementary photos with Santa in their studio, just steps from the American Museum of Natural History.  No appointments are necessary. Details: PhotoOp, 442 Columbus Avenue at 81st Street, New York, NY. For more info on PhotoOp, please visit: www.photoopnyc.com.