8 Tips for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade [Preview]

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade | Thursday, November 24, 2011 | New York

Breathe it in: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Does anything announce more loudly and cheerfully that the holidays have arrived? For me, the answer is “No.” Every Thanksgiving, I’d wake up to the sounds of the parade from the TV and the smell of delicious food from the kitchen. I loved everything about the event: the big balloons floating through the skyscrapers, the musical numbers, the people dressed in big coats, hats and scarves. As a kid in sunny Los Angeles, I always thought to myself, “Yes, now that’s what the holidays are all about.”

Kung Fu Panda in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by Kent Miller.

It should come as no surprise then that when I was a college sophomore in Boston with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving, I grabbed my then-boyfriend (now-husband), packed up a bunch of warm clothes, boarded the Chinatown bus and  traveled to New York City. I didn’t care that we didn’t have enough money for the trip nor that we were going to be in NYC during one of the most touristy times of the year. I didn’t care at all because we were going to see the Macy’s Day Parade.

So, if you are like me, and the time has come to see the Macy’s Day Parade in person, here are some tips to ensure that the event is as magical as you always imagined it would be:

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America’s Top 12 Thanksgiving Parades

Bust out the gravy, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and cider–Thanksgiving is around the corner! Did you know that there’s more than just the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade out there in the United States? There are plenty of fantastic parades held around the country each year, so we’re bringing you the Top 12 Thanksgiving Parades in the United States. Belly up to this feast.

All of these parades are free to attend; however, tickets for purchase are available for grandstand or reserved seating when applicable.

1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – New York, NY

Thursday, November 24 at 9 am EST

This year’s highlights: Tim Burton’s B. balloon; Daniel Radcliffe on the Herald Square stage in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Macy’s Day Parade is the biggest Thanksgiving parade celebration in the United States. Immortalized in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, the parade is broadcast across the country on NBC affiliates at 9 am EST and PST. Celebrating its 85th year, expect 15 giant character balloons, marching bands, 27 floats, 800 clowns, performances from major Broadway shows and countless TV/movie/recording celebrities.

2. McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade – Chicago, IL

Thursday, November 24 at 8 am CET

Don’t eat: adorable mascot Teddy Turkey.

Walking down Chicago’s State Street, the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade has been going strong since 1934 and is the most popular Thanksgiving celebration in the Midwest. The three-hour parade features giant balloons galore, marching bands, celebrities, floats and more. Spectators from around the country can tune into this parade on WGN America at 7 am EST/4 am PST.

McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade. Photo courtesy of Chicago Festival Association.

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Halloween Events for the Whole Family

Traditionally, Halloween is a holiday dedicated to scaring the pants off your friends, family, strangers, and yourself. However, some of the haunts are probably too scary for young children or too hectic for busy families. If you’re looking for something the whole family can do together on Halloween night that’s more exciting than popping Practical Magic into the DVD player and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, you’re in luck! We’ve picked a selection of awesome family friendly events that take place across the nation. The best part–most of them are very affordable and some events are free!


Every fall in Southern California, Anaheim’s Disneyland adds a bunch of special Halloween themed events to their normal amusement park lineup. Overnight, the Haunted Mansion is transformed into something straight out of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington brings a jolly combination of Halloween and Christmas decorations to Disneyland Park that will remain in place until the New Year. However, the “Halloween Screams” fireworks show is a special event only to be seen during Halloween time. Other Disneyland Halloween celebrations include Mickey’s Costume Party, trick-or-treating in the park, and the Halloween Roundup – a show with farm animals in costumes.


Photo provided courtesy of the SF Exploratorium.

Looking for something out of the ordinary to do in the Bay Area on Halloween? Check out the Halloween Haunts and Happenings at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. On Sunday, October 30th, the Exploratorium museum invites folks to throw on a costume and check out some special exhibits that are included in the normal admission price, like the selection of creepy crawlies and giant insects. Walk through the Garden of Carnivorous Plants, and stop by the Graveyard of Dead Science Ideas before making candy skulls. Unwind in the McBean Theater with some classic 20th-century Halloween themed animated films, which include characters like Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, and Felix the Cat. Halloween exhibits are available for one day only, from 12pm to 4pm.

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Sailors Arrive for Fleet Week 2011

Every fall, fleets of uniformed sailors flood the streets of San Francisco to mingle with the local land-lubbers. This Fleet Week is especially important, as Naval Aviation will be celebrating 100 years of existence. As always, there will be many excellent free events for everyone.

Photo by sam.soneja CC BY-SA 2.o

On Thursday October 6, Fleet Week kicks off with the Blue Angels’ practice air show from 1pm to 5pm, which will give spectators a peek at what tricks the team will be showing off on Saturday and Sunday. Air show practice will repeat on Friday from 12:30pm to 4pm. Meanwhile the Navy Band Southwest will be playing at Pier 39, followed by a meet and greet with the Blue Angels  in front of the Aquarium of the Bay at 7pm.

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