Thanksgiving Macy's Day Parade Balloon Inflation Experience

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! (belated:) I hope everyone had such an awesome holiday! I love all holidays but Thanksgiving is special. It kind of feels like Christmas without the pressure of gifts. am i wrong though? our family celebrated a week early with my mom and sister coming in to town for some special girl/family time. we made memories we will cherish forever. this also left us (D and I) relatively footloose and fancy-free for the actual holiday (i should say more so than usual). We went to the Macy's Day Parade last year with my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and their three kids. it was beyond magical being able to experience the parade with my niece and nephews. just being able to witness their wonder and confusion and joy all at the same time in person with them was just totally priceless! :D

Something I had heard about last year but we weren't able to attend with family in town, was the "event before the event"--The Macy's Day Parade Balloon Inflation Event. Makes sense right? all those balloons have to be blown up somewhere and ready to roll first thing on Thanksgiving Day morning. This is by no means an "underground" event that only a few people know about (i wish:). it's a big event with a lot of attendees but going, especially for us this year, was so great for so many reasons that i'm sharing below. i hope you will go too if you get the chance!!! you wont regret it!!

 #1- the day before thanksgiving was MUCH WARMER than Thanksgiving Day. T-Day This year 2018, was the coldest Macy's Day Parade on record. omg. SO GLAD we went last year...can you imagine???? No thanks!!! #2- obviously the crowds are awful the day of the parade. while there is also a significant crowd at the balloon inflation event, it's not nearly as bad as actual Thanksgiving Day out there. way less people and so awesome(!!!) to get up close and personal to these beautiful balloons without half of america packed in like sardines next to you. to be able to take each one in is so neat! needless to say we got much closer to the balloons this year than we did last year at the parade :) #3- the balloon inflation happens at the same place every year, at the American Museum of Natural History (the one with all the dinosaur skeletons:) on the Upper West Side. this is where the parade starts and it goes south all the way down Central Park West and 6th Avenue, and ends at Macy's at Herald Square. since i'm a visual person and i'm finally learning my way around the city, i made a map below of where the museum is, and where you must enter to walk the balloon inflation route. i also mapped out the parade route for those who would like to visualize that too. :) the location of this event is a plus to me because the upper west side is always a great place to visit due to it's close proximity to Central Park. After you walk the balloon inflation route you can do like we did and take a leisurely stroll through the park (always a good idea:). since this balloon inflation route is in the same place every year if you miss this one year it's no big deal, you can just go the next year. for as long as nyc will be here, i'm pretty sure this event will exist. Oh, one more tip- the event takes place from 1pm-8pm every year, there were mixed reviews online of when to go. the earlier you go they said, the less people (crowds) will be there, but also the less balloons will be inflated. the later in the the day you go especially after it gets dark, more people show up and the balloons are only lit by streetlamp lights. with this in mind i'm glad we went during the daylight for our first time to get the full experience and vibe. we showed up at 2:30pm and that was just perfect. not all the balloons were inflated but it seemed like at least 75% were, we had no complaints. it was a great day!!! have you ever done this event in nyc or the parade and if so what was your experience?! would love to hear! :D 
Balloon Inflation Viewing Route
Actual Parade Route
gives a whole new meaning to the term "sand bagged"

walking up Columbus Ave looking back at W 77th St

always googly-eyed over the beautiful horses of the NYPD

at the exit of the parade route at Central Park West and W 81st St

we've all been there pikachu, lol
view of the balloon exit from central park

this is just a picture i snapped during our Central Park walk that day after the balloon viewing. this looked like a scene or a shot out of a harry potter movie to me so of course i had to upload it :)

our actual Thanksgiving Day we were able to see the parade balloons roll past from our living room! that was an amazing experience having it playing on our living room TV AND being able to watch them float by live. a cozier and warmer view too :)


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