For years I have been watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade online and marveling at the massive crowds and huge balloons marching along Manhattan’s streets. I never imagined that one day I would be there watching in-person. But, that’s exactly what happened! I traveled all the way from Elon University in North Carolina to New York City for Thanksgiving.
Needless to say, my first Thanksgiving in America was certainly an adventure. On Thanksgiving morning, my friends and I woke up at 5:30am and headed to 74th street to find a spot near the very beginning of the parade along the western side of Central Park. Even though waiting from 6am seems too early, we barely found a good spot among the crowds. We learned that some people had been staying overnight and guarding their spots in the very first row.
Visiting New York City during Thanksgiving was perfect because the weather wasn’t yet brutally cold, and the festivities (and holiday discounts) were at their peak all over the city. The main event for me, however, was definitely the parade.
The event started with confetti-throwing clowns, next there were the famous Macy’s Parade balloons that were greeted by massive cheers from thousands of spectators. Finally came the part everyone was waiting for, the popular character balloons such as Sponge Bob, Snoopy, Ronald McDonald and many others. My favorite was the Thanksgiving turkey; you'd rarely find someone who doesn't like that balloon!
Both children and adults were cheering for the floats, some featuring celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Train, Chris Daughtry and others.
The parade lasted until 12pm and ended in front of Macy's Herald Square. After that, the streets remained closed so cleaning vehicles could make Manhattan clean for the rest of Thanksgiving celebrations.
Experiencing Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City was definitely an unforgettable adventure for me and a highlight of my Fulbright experience. Adventures like these allow me to meet people from around the world and experience their cultures. It’s nice to meet those who share the same enthusiasm for travel and culture as I do.
Salma Tantawi is a first-semester M.A. student in Elon University’s iMedia program. She enjoys photography, and plans to work in online, digital media publishing in the future.