Is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade worth attending?


The Catalyst / Mia Muzzi

Many people throughout America choose to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television.

With its massive balloons, joyful floats and impressive musical performances, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an anticipated holiday event each year. Millions of people line the streets of Manhattan to watch the parade go by. But is attending the parade in person actually worth it? There are both pros and cons to attending the parade in person. For some, it can become a yearly tradition, but for others, it can be an experience never wanted to be repeated.

One thing about the parade that often scares away potential attendees is the large crowd. With millions of people trying to get a glimpse of the floats and performers, it is often hard to actually find a good viewing spot.

People start lining up on the two and a half mile route as early as 6 a.m. and wait there until the 9 a.m. start time. This is a commitment that not everyone is willing to make.

Additionally, getting there early still means dealing with the large crowds at some point. For many, the amount of people is very overwhelming and has the potential to ruin the experience.

New York resident Marty Keary, who decided to take his kids to the parade one year, described just how crowded the viewing area was.

“Several years ago, I took my kids to the parade. After powering through the crowds and trying to cross the streets, my son started to faint,” said Keary.

The density of the crowd can definitely take a toll on attendants, but there is also a sense of community and camaraderie in that crowd. Keary explained the way they supported his son after the incident.

“A policeman brought us on into the street and seated us on the curb. People in the crowd offered up a blanket, orange juice and cookies,” said Keary. “FDNY and EMS checked out my son and after Santa passed us, we were allowed to follow in the parade behind Santa.”

The density of the crowd is often viewed as a con of attending, but the spirit of the crowd can present itself as a pro. Surrounded by others who are just as excited to immerse themself in the holiday spirit can really enhance the viewing experience.

“[T]here is a sense of community shown in the way strangers are quick to help should the circumstance arise,” said Alicia O’Neill, who attended the parade as a child. “[And] how the crowd is also very in tune to children, making sure that they can see as best as they can.”

Like the warmth and excitement of the crowd, there are some other positive aspects of attending the parade in person.

The detail of the floats and the gigantic size of the balloons is better appreciated when one is seeing them pass right before their eyes. A 60 foot tall balloon may already look big on a television screen, but in person, one can really see just how grand 60 feet is.

“The balloons themselves are incredibly large and it takes a lot of coordination to get them to operate the way they do,” said O’Neill.

The scale and success of the parade is due to all the hard work that coordinators, designers and volunteers put in. A team of artists work year-round in a studio in New Jersey to bring all the elements of the parade to life. The team spends over 50,000 hours designing and constructing all the floats, balloons and costumes that make an appearance in the parade. The brightness and detail of these creations can be appreciated more in person than through the television screen.

Ultimately, one must weigh the pros and cons to determine if it is worth it to them to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. Some consider it a treasured tradition to attend, while others prefer to watch it from the comfort of their home. But regardless of how one chooses to view it, it is an annual event that everyone in America can appreciate.