New York City :: Day 3 {Thanksgiving Day Parade}

NYC Day 3: Where do I even begin?
The Thanksgiving Parade Day.
Bucket List item. I've been waiting for this day for YEARS!
Maybe 8 or so years ago, my mom, sisters and I started talking about doing this trip.
Our original plan was to do this for my Mom's 60th Birthday.
Well, SURPRISE! I got pregnant with Luke and he was born in August of 2012 & my younger sister got pregnant with Jack & he was born in September of 2012. There was no way we were going to bring newborns to NYC for the parade, so we decided to postpone the trip until my Mom's 65th Birthday. We made it a girls trip (Kevin had no desire to go to NYC during the holidays). My younger sister couldn't make it on the trip because she didn't have anyone to watch her kids while her husband was working all last week. We missed having her with us! It wasn't the same!
Kate & Claire came along on the trip because they are 9 & almost 11...they were the perfect ages for this trip, because they didn't get tired & they were able to keep up with us. LOL!

The parade starts at Central Park at 9am. Our hotel was in Midtown, just a couple blocks from the parade route & it reaches Midtown around 9:30.
We decided to watch it in Midtown rather than take the subway (or walk) to the beginning of the parade near Central Park, because we had a feeling it would be more crowded there.

Plus, we wanted the ease of just walking a few blocks :)

Everyone we talked to & everything I read online about the parade said to get to the parade early...around 6 or 6:30 to get a spot. I was ready to do that. But, then, the night before the parade as I was setting my alarm, I thought about it....if we got there at 6/6:30am then my kids would have to stand in the Freezing cold weather for over 3 hours BEFORE the parade even started. Then, they would stand an additional 2+ hours watching the parade.

PLUS, the high temperature of the day was going to be 38 degrees. My weather app told me that during the parade it would be in the low to mid 30's. That is COLD for us Californians! 

I decided that if I made my kids do that, it would be a disaster waiting to happen. LOL!
We didn't need front row seats, the balloons were so big & I knew we would still be able to see them if we were standing a little farther back.

If we left around 7 or 7:15 we could stop at Starbucks on the walk up and be there before 8. That wouldn't be as much waiting. The next morning my alarm went off at 6:45. I tried gently waking up the girls and they didn't even stir (we aren't morning people) So, I changed my plan again and decided that sleep was better for them & I let them sleep until 7:30. I am SO glad I did this! Happy kids is better than front row parade spots even if it is a Bucket List item.

We stopped to get hot chocolate for the girls, coffee for us & pastries and made our way to 6th Avenue (also called the Avenue of the Americas). There were several police barricades & street closures, so it was a bit of a maze, but then we found awesome spots right in front of Radio City. It was 8:30 on the dot and this area was WAY less crowded than we thought it would be considering we were 2 hours later getting there (based on advice that everyone gave us)

The spots we found had this alcove blocked off, so there was no one to the left of us. We were about 3 rows back from the front row, but could totally see great!
It was so fun chatting with all the people around us. People from all over the country. Some had been to the parade before or several times before. Other people were there for the first time like us because it was a bucket list item for them as well. Everyone was so nice.

The crowd across the street from us was hilarious. There was a huge group of them dressed up as pilgrims & they had music blasting. Then they started a chant "We've got spirit yes we do, we've got spirit how about you" and pointed to us. So of course our side of the street chants back to them. This goes on a few more times. They other side of the street for sure had more spirit. They were hilarious. It helped the time pass quickly!

Before we knew it, it was 9:35 and the police motorcycle brigade passed us announcing the parade was on it's way. Sure enough a minute later the marching band was there & we could see Olaf in the distance. It was surreal!

I took photos of every float & balloon, but you don't want to see all of that, so here are some of my favorites! Just a warning....this is still a major photo overload!
(I don't have any photos of the bands because I took video of all the marching bands)

Waiting for the parade to start....

Across from us was Santa :)

Here come the first of MANY clowns leading the way....
Then the police brigade....
And now the parade officially begins!

Olaf makes his appearance
The balloons seem so much bigger in person!
The official turkey float! Tom Colicchio was on this float.
Smokey Robinson:
Patti Labelle:

Ronald McDonald:

Marching Band Video:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
Taking in the sights...
Angelica Hale:
Hello Kitty:
Red Power Ranger:
Jimmy Fallon & The Roots!

Video of Jimmy!!!

At least I got to see Jimmy at the parade. LOL!
Miss America was on this float. My girls asked me what Miss America was. We've never watched it, and they had no idea! Parenting win or parenting fail? You be the judge ;)
Charlie Brown:
Girl Scouts float:
Dustin Lynch:
Sara Evans:
Bebe Rexha:
Chase from Paw Patrol:
Kat Graham:
Angry Bird:
Flo Rida:
More clowns & Sponge Bob:
Goo Goo Dolls!
Sabrina Carpenter:
Pilsbury Dough Boy:
Lauren Alaina & the Green Giant:
More Clowns....
Peanuts Float:

Aflac Duck:
Olivia Holt:
View of the floats going down Avenue of America:
The Grinch:

Hallmark Channel Float.....Guess who is on it? 98 Degrees!!!!

Hello there Nick Lachey!

Elf on the Shelf:
Christmas Light balloons:
Still on cloud nine even after being in 35 degree weather for several hours:

Santa has arrived!
This signifies the end of the parade..
Santa arrives to welcome Christmas:
And, that's a wrap! Parade officially over.

The parade was everything and more. It was better than I thought it would be. It was crowded, it was freezing cold (34 degrees) & it was many hours standing, but there was so much excitement & energy. Getting to witness it live was surreal. 
FYI, what you see on TV is a little different than what you see in person. All the performances & dancers you see the 1st hour on TV are done at the end of parade route at Macy’s on 34th Street, so you only see those performances if you are sitting in those grandstands (which you have to get tickets for, mostly for charities) Also, what they don’t show on TV is that after each balloon/float there is a group of about 30-40 clowns per balloon/float that trail behind it & are dressed up to go along with the theme of that float. I have never seen that many clowns in my life. I was not expecting that. They would run up to all of us and spray confetti at the crowd. It was awesome.
 Finally, the balloons are SO much bigger in person! 

It takes about 100 people to carry each one. Each balloon has someone directing the balloon handlers & that person walks backwards the entire 3.5 miles of the parade directing them. 

All the balloon handlers are Macy’s employees or family of Macy’s employees. Seeing the parade in person was hands down the highlight of the trip for me! 

 After the parade we headed back to the hotel to warm up & change clothes and then we headed to Thanksgiving lunch/dinner at Sarabeth’s South Central Park.

 They had a pre-fix menu for Thanksgiving
 Pumpkin Soup with crab....it was so good!
 The other choice for the 1st course was a crab cake. Claire didn't want either of them, so since I ordered the pumpkin soup for myself, you better believe I had her order the crab cake so I could eat it. I love crab cakes!

Beet Salad for the Salad Course:
 For the main course, you had a choice of traditional Turkey dinner (which Kate, Elyse & I got)
 My mom & Claire both ordered the Filet Mignon. Claire loves steak!
 Dessert was Apple Cranberry Crumble or Pumpkin Pie. We got our desserts to go because we were so full! We all got the Apple Cranberry Crumble & it was delicious!

 After our Thanksgiving meal, it was time for us to head to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular!
It was so pretty inside!
 The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. It was Spectacular...a must see. I teared up several times during the performance, it was that good.
 This was a highlight of our trip for all of us.
After the show we walked around the city looking at all the Christmas decorations.

 NYC was buzzing on Thanksgiving night! People everywhere!

Rockefeller Center:
 All the scaffolding was taken off the Rockefeller tree, but they don't light it until the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
They have security guards all around the tree
Angels of Rockefeller Center

Saks 5th Avenue had the most incredible window/building display:

It was a music/light show.
You could hear the Christmas music playing from a couple blocks away

We felt like we were at Disneyland!

Video of the Saks 5th Avenue light show:

The windows at Saks had a Snow White theme.

We walked back to the hotel & we saw so many workers/crews putting up Christmas decorations at many of the buildings. See this tree below? We saw this crew start working on it as we were walking to Thanksgiving lunch at Sarabeths!

My mom & the girls went to bed and Elyse and I decided to walk to Macy's on 34th Street because I wanted to see the flagship Macy's store. I couldn't believe how many people were out shopping on Thanksgiving night!

5th Avenue was packed full of people. I was in awe of all the window displays that the department stores had.
 This was Lord & Taylor...their store front was so pretty.

 Guess what the theme was for their store? Hallmark Christmas movies!

We don't have window displays like this in San Francisco. NYC knows how to do Christmas.
 Empire State Building lit up Red & Green for Christmas:
 We reached Macy's.....so beautiful!
 Their window displays were incredible!
 Each window had music & a theme. 

Then we went inside of Macy's.....I had to take a video because I could NOT believe how crowded it was! CRAZY!
 This is why I haven't gone shopping on Thanksgiving before. So many people! The last time I went shopping on Black Friday was when I was 9 months pregnant with Kate. It was awful & I vowed to never do it again. It was kind of fun to witness all the crazy, glad there was nothing I wanted or needed buy....I had enough entertainment people watching!
I’ve never seen anything like it. 

On Day 3 walked 7.6 miles and about 16,500 steps.
I was in bed by 10pm.

Thanksgiving Day 2017 was an epic day....one that I will never forget!
You can read about Day 1 HERE & Day 2 HERE

Thanks for letting me share our NYC adventures.....One more day to go!


  1. I am so enjoying these recaps! Brings back memories of our trip to NYC for New Years 2013.

  2. I’m dying!! I so need to be in NYC ASAP!!

  3. Love that picture of you and your girls!!!

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