Although we had read all about how early people arrive for the parade, I honesty thought that applied more for people who were trying to get seats in the prime viewing areas on Columbus Circle, near Macy's etc...We woke up at our usual 6ish this morning and lounged a bit. At 6:30 I wandered downstairs to get a Starbucks and 'scout it out.' When I found the hotel lobby completely quiet I felt like the early bird. Then, I stepped out onto the street and realized we were actually quite behind! I frantically texted the rest of our crew and rushed back upstairs to bundle up our people.
We made it down the street around 6:45 and took our place on the cold sidewalk. The weather was clear and 35ish degrees. We were about 5-6 rows back. There are a few tips I wish I would have known: you can bring chairs, you should get there by 6am for a front row seat...or stand on a corner where the will be shutting down a cross street. Nevertheless, for two and a half hours the children were TROOPERS fueled by handheld games, hot cocoa, bagels and a lively rocks-scissors-paper competition.
At 9:15 the parade came into view with clowns, police officers and the first marching band rousing everyone to their feet. By this time, a community of sorts had formed and the children (ours and others) were allowed to line the front two rows for the duration of the parade. The children had PRIME viewing--but it was virtually impossible to get a glimpse of their faces (or a photo). I was afraid that after all the preparation and the waiting we might be disappointed by the parade--but it was simply not the case. We watched for two solid hours with no whining, complaints or potty breaks. The atmosphere was jovial and exciting. It is very different watching the parade on the route than the version we see on television. Although all the marching bands perform all along the route, the 'celebrities' do not until they get in front of Macy's. Also, the balloons are really incredible in person. And, even though I am really not a Santa-crazy person I confess I had chills when he arrived. It was the anticipation largely--and seeing the side profiles of my very excited children. We will never watch the parade on tv with the same perspective.
Our usual Thanksgiving surroundings are my dining room in small town Georgia--a far cry from the fancy, Uptown Manhattan table where we dined today. Yet, the warmth was the same because it wasn't about where we were as much as who we were with. I missed the prescence of my side of the family--and we all paused to talk about the loss of Nana this year. My mother-in-law brought along a sweet touch of home--the small battered slips of paper bearing Bible verses we read each year.After our formal Thanksgiving celebration we explored FAO Schwartz and enjoyed some of the incredibly decorated store windows before capping off the day with a carriage ride through Central Park.
When we got back to the room tonight K put on her pajamas, laid down and looked up at me with a loopy, satisfied grin. "Mama, I am worn-ded OUT!"
All of my fears about the children being too young for this have been allayed. We are truly having a fairy tale trip!