Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NYC Day 4 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in New York City is the best Thanksgiving ever, ever! And Day 4 was (in my opinion) the pinnacle of our week there. I had been waiting for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade all year long, and it was finally here!

Random picture we took in front of a pretty wall in Rockefeller Center
Even though we were exhausted from our late Broadway show the night before, Brad and I woke up at 5:00 in the morning (brrr!!) and made our way to Midtown in an effort to secure a great spot along the parade route. And boy did we ever! Somehow we stumbled upon the best location in the whole city! We sat on top of some scaffolding outside of the back of Carnegie Hall on the corner of 57th and 7th. It was perfect because the scaffolding allowed us to sit down instead of stand the whole time; I was raised high enough to see above the people in front of me; and we were only a couple blocks down from Central Park, so we got to watch the parade turn the corner. It was always a surprise to see what was next, but we still had a couple blocks' worth of viewing/picture/enjoyment time before they passed us! Like I said, it was the best location in the city.
When we procured our spot, with a boost from my hubs to make it on top of the platform, it was still dark and relatively vacant. But as the sun rose as the parade time drew nearer, the people crowded in. Every hour that went by, I was more grateful for our pristine spot that was reasonably excluded from the masses.
Kicking off the parade was Macy's Great American Marching Band. With the sound of those drums, my heart about beat right out of my chest with excitement!
I knew the balloons would be big from watching them on tv all those years. And I knew they would be even larger than I expected after witnessing some being inflated the day before. But I had no idea how ginormous they would really be floating down the street overhead, between the skyscrapers. As they approached where we were, I literally could not fit them in their entirety within my camera view! It was awesome.
By the way, little fun fact, NYC has prepared for hosting this annual parade by installing rotating stoplight posts that pivot on the spot allowing them to stand parallel to the sidewalks of the secondary streets, thereby removing them from interfering with the parade route. I never thought about how all of those strings attached to the balloons that people walk down the road would get caught on street lights. Very clever, NYC.

As soon as I spotted Snoopy being inflated the day before, I knew that  he was the one that I wanted a picture taken with. We anxiously awaited his arrival the whole parade, and when we saw him soar around the corner, I made sure that Brad had a good shot of us with him. Success.
Also, here you can see our feet dangling over the ledge of our little wall with all of the confetti decorating the ground. (And if you're wondering, yes, Brad frequently reminded me to move my legs to keep the circulation going while they hung there. And if you're also wondering whether or not that worked / I adhered his advice, no. When I finally got down for the first time in 5 1/2 hours, I about collapsed, and my legs tingled the whole shaky way back to the subway.)


The only person I anticipated coming my way more than Snoopy was Santa himself. I had been waiting for months to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their eight reindeer fly by me. With the sound of his "Ho, Ho, Ho!!" ringing in my ears, I couldn't do anything but cry. And smile like an idiot. It was so surreal, and I was so overcome with happiness. Then, once he moved on to other people down the street, marking  the official end of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (and the beginning of Christmas Season), I cried anew because it was all over! But I didn't have time to wallow in my misery. Brad kissed my face and reminded me that we had a massive crowd to beat to the subway! (On wobbly legs.) But I was absolutely looking forward to going back to our hotel and crashing for a couple of hours, so I tried to keep pace.

The Parade was 100% worth travelling for Thanksgiving. 100%. But it was still a little sad to be away from our families as we celebrated the holiday with a special dinner. We didn't just want to have random diner food for our big meal, so we took part in a Thanksgiving Dinner Cruise. It wasn't our traditional menu, and you could tell they were accommodating a variety of cultures, but it was still special and fun.

We had the perfect backdrop to our holiday meal as we floated underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and watched the sun set over the New York City skyline. I think this nearly made up for the lack of green bean casserole.

Between the main and dessert courses, Brad and I headed to the exterior of the boat. It was perfect timing, because we had reached our destination. As we approached and then floated stationary near the Statue of Liberty for a while, the majority of the dinner guests came to the top and enjoyed the magnificent scenery while a variety of patriotic music was playing in the background. It was romantic, and sweet, and moving, and patriotic, and a moment I'll never forget. We had much to give thanks for, indeed.

Following our dinner cruise, we went to Rockefeller Center. It was absolutely beautiful. I was super disappointed that the giant Christmas tree wasn't lit up yet, but they don't do that until the week following Thanksgiving. (Boo.) It was still cool to see its enormity there with scaffolding assembled to provide the capabilities of decorating. Bradley and I had every intention of ice skating in Rockefeller Center's iconic rink, but when it finally came our turn in line, we realized they were asking over $30 per person to skate. Yikes! It is the one and only event throughout the whole week that we removed from our schedule strictly because of the high price. We're not that cheap, but we're too cheap to spend over $60 to ice skate! Regardless, it was completely awesome to be there and see it in real life. We actually purchased a puzzle of this scene for our Christmas puzzle of the year.

So instead of ice skating, we journeyed to the Top of the Rock(effeler), which is the second largest building in the city. We chose to do this one in the evening, so we could capture the Empire State Building in our night view of the city. It was breathtaking.

That was technically the final event on our schedule for Thanksgiving Day, but the hubs and I were still all jazzed from the events of the day (and our lengthy afternoon nap), so we headed back to our favorite place in the city, Times Square. We seriously love that place. We climbed to the top of the Red Steps and marvelled at the best view of Times Square possible.

Once we had soaked in enough of the buzz just looking at Times Square gives you, we just walked around and checked out all of the nearby stores, especially the chocolate ones!  We couldn't help but go on into the M&M store. The walls were lined with the chocolate candies in dispensers as high as the ceiling. Talk about Mmmm...  

So that was our Thanksgiving of 2011. I still can't believe I got to be at the Macy's Parade and see Santa in person! Or gaze upon the Statue of Liberty amidst our holiday dinner. What an amazing experience it all was. (I'm not sure I'll ever go without traditional food again, though. Jussayin.)

Here are recaps of our other days in the city: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 5, and Day 6.

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