How to Navigate the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This year, opt to spend Thanksgiving Day in New York City. Forgo the at-home family time and instead watch the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live. Don’t worry about not being able to see the action. This is the Long Island Pulse guide on where to strategically place yourself to enjoy the best view and what to do once the festivities are over.

When is the Parade Taking Place, Exactly?  Thursday, November 26, 2015. Festivities kick off at 9am and are expected to end at noon.

Where is the Action Happening? The walk begins on 77th Street and Central Park West and makes its way down to Macy’s in Herald Square. Here are the best spots for prime viewing:

1. Central Park West at 75th Street: The park will be open to invite-only grandstand seating. If you’re looking to wake up very early and can get here at 6am, this is your spot.

2. Second and Third Floors at the Shops at Columbus Circle: Enjoy an elevated view of the festivities while also taking in the Holiday Under the Stars light display (according to yours truly, this would be the way to go).

3. Sixth Avenue: The parade reaches this stretch around 9:30am, so make sure to get here before then.

Who is Performing This Year? Jordin Sparks, Train, Questlove, the cast of Broadway’s School of Rock: the Musical, Mariah Carey, Andy Grammer, Panic! at the Disco and the Plain White T’s are only few of the celebrities you can expect.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Snoopy and Woodstock, from Peanuts, flying through W 59th ST during the Macy’s 87th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City, New York. image: dapoopta

What’s the Deal With This Year’s Floats? Clearly one of the parade’s most exciting features, this year’s floats are as grand as they’ve ever been. What the Pulse team is most looking forward to: the New York Daily News’s Big Apple float, depicting our city’s top landmarks, Macy’s own Santa’s Sleigh and Tom Turkey, clearly focusing on the holiday season, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles honoring (complete with a zip line), Cirque du Soleil’s Dreamseeker (53 feet long, 23 feet wide and 35 feet high) and, amongst others, the Heartwarming Holiday Countdown float, by the Hallmark Channel.

Got it: Performers and Floats… Anything Else I Should be Excited For? Yes. Marching bands. The NYPD Marching Band, the Macy’s Great American Marching Band and a slew of university-based bands will be in attendance.

Alright… Is That All? Not yet, buddy. Don’t forget to watch out for the performance groups. Amongst them: the Spirit of America Dance Stars (who have been part of the parade for 25 years), the 610 Stompers (from New Orleans) and the Brooklyn Jumbies (expect a lot of stilt dancing).

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Spiderman balloon is flown at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. image: r_drewek

Alright. Thanks for That. The Parade is Over… Should I Go Back Home Now? Absolutely not. You’re in New York City. Here’s what you should do: Go grab yourself a coffee at the relatively new UO Cafe inside of the Urban Outfitters in Herald Square (venues-within-venues seem to be all the rave these days). Proceed with some shopping along 34th Street and then make a right on Fifth Avenue to purchase some books to read during the holidays at the Rizzoli Bookstore (don’t forget to admire the beautiful space, of course) on Broadway and 26th Street.

Time for some food: Stop by Ilili on Fifth Avenue and 27th Street for some memorably delicious Mediterranean fair. Finally, warm up with some top-notch whiskey at New American restaurant Maysville (and grab yet another bite if you’re still hungry) on 26th Street and Broadway.

You’re welcome for the most locally inspired yet tourist-focused day in your city.