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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012 guide

Brave the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012 by using our helpful guide of do's and don'ts.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Joe Marcus

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Kent Miller

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Macy's

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • Photograph: Kent Miller

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade


Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012 at home in your pajamas with a mug of hot chocolate certainly has its appeal (you can watch the parade live on NBC from 9am to noon as it winds down Sixth Avenue on its new route to Macy's Herald Square). But catching it live on the streets of New York is an experience every city kid should have at least once (how else would they know that the guys who walk behind the horses with giant pooper scoopers get some of the biggest cheers?). Afterward, head to a restaurant for a Thanksgiving feast, take on another Thanksgiving-themed event or have a Thanksgiving dessert to tide you over till turkey time. Below are some insider tips on navigating the crowds at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012.

 

RECOMMENDED: Thanksgiving with Kids in NYC

 

PRE-PARTY HEARTY
Do head to the Upper West Side for Inflation Night, an amazing, up-close experience you can’t catch on TV. That’s where Spider-Man, SpongeBob, Snoopy and friends get pumped up on Thanksgiving Eve (this year’s blow-up takes place Wed Nov 21 from 3 to 10pm on 77th and 81st Sts between Central Park West and Columbus Ave; enter at 79th St and Columbus Ave). A few years ago Macy’s moved the start time to 3pm, so kids can come straight from school.
Don’t wait till nighttime to go, as crowds are at their peak then. Plus, access to the area is cut off at 9:15pm.

WHERE TO WATCH THE MACY'S THANKGIVING DAY PARADE
Do scout out a good spot a few days before the parade (proximity to a Starbucks or deli with a public bathroom is a plus). Columbus Circle is considered prime parade real estate for its great vantage points. Keep in mind that the further uptown you are, the earlier you’ll be finished and heading home for Grandma’s turkey.
Don’t go anywhere near Macy’s itself—they won’t even let you near the grandstands unless you have an impossible-to-come-by ticket, and the area below 37th Street is designated the “quiet zone,” where the marching bands have to stay mute while the TV cameras film the Rockettes and NBC anchors live.

TIMING’S EVERYTHING
Don’t be late. Most parade-viewing pros arrive by 6:30am for the event’s 9am start time. You’ll probably find a place to watch if you show up a little later, but if you want a chance to high-five a Macy’s clown, get there at the crack of dawn.
Do make sure your kid has your cell phone number written down and knows to look for a police officer in case you get separated.

GEARING UP
Don’t forget to dress in layers. It can be brutally cold at 6 in the morning, and even if it warms up later, you won’t be moving around much. Take a tip from all those baton twirlers marching down Sixth Avenue in skimpy leotards, and throw on some Under Armour. Also, don’t bother bringing the stroller—you won’t need one more thing to carry through the crowds.
Do plan on bringing snacks, a camera, a blanket or picnic chair to sit on while you wait, confetti to throw on the clowns (they’re used to it), and books and toys for when your kids whine, “When is it going to start?” (The answer to that: It depends where you are. The first floats leave Central Park West and 77th Street at 9am, and the last float—the one with Santa—sets off between 10:15 and 10:30am. The further south you’re positioned, the longer the initial wait for the action.)

EAGLE EYES
Do pick up a copy of the New York Post or Daily News on Thanksgiving morning for the parade lineup. You’ll want to be informed of new balloons (we hear that Elf on a Shelf, Papa Smurf and Companion, the work of Brooklyn artist KAWS, are making their debuts this year; a new Hello Kitty aboard a plane will be introduced too) and new floats (including one from pre-K channel Sprout and another from Nickolodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as well as who’s performing.
Don’t feel you have to stay for the whole shebang. It is, after all, your holiday.

The 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place Thu Nov 22 from 9am to noon. The new parade route will start at Central Park West at 77th St, make a left onto Central Park South, then head due south on Sixth Ave to Macy's Herald Square.

Restaurants near the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route

Alice’s Tea Cup

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. 102 W 73rd St, (at Columbus Ave)
More info

Beacon

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. 25 W 56th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves), 10019
Book online

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 10 Columbus Circle, (at Broadway, third floor)
Book online

Planet Hollywood

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. 1540 Broadway, (at 45th St)
More info


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