New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – for tourists

Me in Times Square, New York

I said it before in my top three travel memories and I’ll say it again: I’m really thankful for being in New York for thanksgiving.

Not only was I able to fulfil a childhood ambition of actually visiting the Big Apple, walking through Time Square, in Central Park and over the Brooklyn Bridge – but I was there for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Everything is bigger in the United States of America and national holidays are no different.

New York skyline and the Thanksgiving Day Parade

New Yorkers take to the streets from the crack of dawn to get a good spot from which to view the Thanksgiving Day parade.

From bleachers to brick walls and apartments overlooking the parade route – any spot is fair game, so long as you get there first.

Bear in mind, of course, that it will likely be freezing cold out in New York City. Dress warmly, grab a coffee on the way – or bring a thermos – and prepare for a long wait. Thankfully, although the weather might be freezing the atmosphere on the street is anything but.

We managed to strike up a conversation with the people near us, which turned out to be fairly educational for us and them. They didn’t know anything of New Zealand and we knew nothing of American culture – besides what we’d seen on television.

The parade is worth the wait.

Music and marching bands, giant inflatable characters and amazing floats make it a New York icon, an American institution and a must for anyone travelling to New York in November.

Celebrities grace some of the floats; Spider-Man and Sponge Bob Square Pants are among the giant inflatable characters; Santa does make an appearance at the end – just like Christmas parades in New Zealand.

We stayed at the nearby YMCA so we were well placed for the action – and it was a quick walk to the parade route and a quick walk back to recover when it was all over.

Spider-Man at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York

The 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York begins at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West at 9am, where it slowly makes its way past the park to Columbus Circle, turns onto Central Park South and then onto 6th Avenue.

The Thanksgiving parade makes its final turn and ends in front of Macy’s Herald Square, America’s largest convenience store.

For the full US Thanksgiving experience you should also go out for a piece of pumpkin pie, which is a lot better than it sounds and is actually a dessert rather than a savoury dish.

Only in America!

For more fun things to see and do in the good ol’ USA, check out my first ever blog post 5 fun things to do in San Francisco.

About Simon Petersen 504 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


    • New Year’s Eve would be amazing in Times Square! New York at any time over the Christmas period would be pretty special. Haha, reminds me of that Pogues song Fairytale of New York!

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