Each year, without fail, as I watch the huge balloons and floats, the kids, horses, performances and of course Santa, I dreamt of actually attending one day.
This was on my Bucket List. Most years, watching the fans all huddled together to either stay warm or dry or both, I think, “Maybe not!”. So, you can imagine our excitement when some friends, in December mind you, invite us to join them and watch the parade from their hotel suite overlooking the parade route. I mean, it was an immediate Yes! We booked our own hotel near Times Square and air and sit on our thumbs for the next eleven months awaiting the day.
Our friend’s suite was in the Warwick Hotel at 54th and 6th. This is a little above our price range (ok, a lot above our price range), so we chose the Novotel nearby at 52nd and Broadway, just down the street from Times Square. Turns out, we really liked the Novotel for price and location. It was very modern and a little quirky but also had an outdoor terrace looking down Broadway just a few blocks from Times Square. We highly recommend the Novotel.
The day before the parade is when all of the large balloons are inflated on 77th and 79th street off of Central Park West. This was close to the American Museum of Natural History, which I had never visited even though I had been to New York many times. I took the opportunity to see both. The museum was very crowded most likely due to the parade crowds but was very interesting. Actually, it was a little overwhelming. Four floors of the history and relics of origins and cultures of humanity from all around the world. Some were real relics and some appeared to be some fabrications, but I really couldn’t tell. The most interesting things to me were the dinosaur bones and skeletons. The T-Rex was amazing! Make sure you don’t miss the museum.
Back to the balloons… After getting yelled at by New York’s finest for walking down the wrong sidewalk to get a good photo spot of the balloons, I sneaked in another way to a really nice viewing spot and watched for a couple of hours as many of the balloons were inflated. They included Sponge Bob, Snoopy, the Grinch, a Power Ranger, Smokey the Bear, Ronald McDonald and others which were then tethered to the ground. My favorite was Olaf from Frozen. It was really very cool to see how the inflating process was so well orchestrated for each balloon. The day of the parade was going to be iffy for the balloons flying due to the strong steady winds and wind gusts, but fly they did..albeit lower than normal.
While we were in town, we also visited Macy’s. How could we resist… Macy’s decorated for Christmas on 34th Street? You have to love the history of Macy’s and the 100 year old wooden escalators.
The day of the parade, we thought it would be just a few blocks walk to their hotel. It turned out to be a subway ride up to Central Park and then walking back down 5th to the hotel due to the police blocking 6th avenue for the upcoming parade. After my incident the day before with NYPD, I didn’t want to test them on a tense day. It turned out to be very easy that way too… just a little longer. Our friend’s suite was on the 12th floor of the Warwick and we were given special wristbands to gain access to the hotel. Some suites on the lower, “parade level” floors were going for upwards of $1,500/night so we were not complaining at all with the view. In fact, we had an “exclusive view” not normally shown on the networks. Our friends had also planned a big breakfast spread of pastries, juices and champagne. Who would complain?
Just after the parade, we had a special bonus for our trip. The Memphis Tigers just happened to be in town playing that afternoon in a basketball tournament against NC State in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. My wife surprised me with very good tickets to watch them play and win! Go Tigers!
We thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience of the parade, theatre, restaurants and New York City and will definitely do this again one day. But, maybe the Rose Bowl Parade, in Pasadena next time. What do you say, Gary? That’s next on my Bucket List. Check this one off the list. Thanks again to our friends for the invite and a very memorable time!
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