Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

23rd November 2016 0 By Biggsy
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last Updated on 24th July 2020

When you think of crowd-lined parades full of huge balloon cartoon characters floating down the street, one event that springs to mind is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. It starts level with Central Park up at 75th Street, continues down 6th Avenue, before finishing outside the Macy’s departure store on 34th Street.

The start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 2014
The start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 2014

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – where’s to stand?

There are numerous hints and tips to get the best spectator spots. None of which I adhered to. So I ended up  standing with everybody else at the top of 6th Avenue level with 56th Street. Many rows of people in front of me looked like they’d camped out for hours in advance, commandeering barrier space and spreading out their folding chairs, close enough that nobody could sneak through any gaps but sufficiently far apart so that they took up as much space for their family as possible.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Turkey
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Turkey

Of course there are many other things to do in NYC so check out these top 3 trips below 🙂


I walked backwards and forwards over a few blocks in an attempt to get closer to the front. Realising the futility of this attempt I eventually stood on a raised bit of kerb. While trying to make sure that I had a darker office block in the background (rather than a gap). This was to make sure my photos of the floats didn’t come out too silhouetted. I probably didn’t get that right either lol.

Spiderman flying down 6th Ave
Spiderman flying down 6th Ave

What sort of floats might you see?

I’d grown up expecting to see Spiderman and Snoopy and the parade didn’t disappoint. Also appearing were Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington Bear, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Skylanders Eruptor, Holiday Pikachu, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Papa Smurf but Spiderman was probably my favourite. The floating characters were interspersed with marching bands, cheerleaders, acrobats, Harlem Globetrotters, even the rock band KISS appeared on a float! All in all it was an enjoyably fun affair and another famous global event to tick off the list 🙂

Thomas the Tank Engine steaming down 6th Ave

My limited number of tips, if any, would include:

  1. getting there early to get a good spot – preferably near a bakery/coffee shop.
  2. not standing on a chilly street corner. The cold wind is going to whistle around your ear lobes for a few hours.
  3. trying to get some dark building in the background. As that might allow the floating balloons to stand out better in your photos.

Here’s Time Out’s guide to the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade proceedings. Maybe you might be lucky enough to be living for a while in New York like I did and this event could be added to your list?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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