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Monday, December 19, 2011

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade: My Sophmore Year

Every Thanksgiving as a little girl in Maine, I watched The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from our tiny living room with full attention.

It was the only opportunity I had to see Rockettes, Broadway show performances, and the city I dreamed of living in but had never been to-Manhattan.
I envisioned one day standing on that green with the red star in front of Macy's during the parade, but had no idea how I would get there from 16 Penobscot Street.

2010 was my first year as a volunteer "banner carrier" in The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Click here to read the story.)

When I had the opportunity to participate in the parade again in 2011, I had to seriously weigh my options.
Being a volunteer in Macy's would mean having to do an early Thanksgiving in Maine with my family in order to get back to NYC for the parade.
It would also mean getting my ass out of bed on Thanksgiving morning at 4:45 AM to be out the door and on a Herald Square bound train by 6 AM. There was the possibility of rain, or that I would freeze all morning during the 40 block walk. It could be so cold that I might have to amputate some toes afterward.
Despite all of these possible outcomes, being in Macy's parade is a really, really cool and amazing experience. I am also a sucker for the giant adorable balloons, so I confirmed myself for year two.

When my alarm clock went off at 4:45 AM Thanksgiving morning, I hit the snooze and wondered what the hell I was thinking. I dragged myself out of bed and pulled on the required parade layers.
Socks, tank top, long shirt, and sweater, two pairs of thick tights under gym pants.
By the time I was done my ass was more lifted than Beyonce's in a set of spanx.

Once inside the hotel and checked in, I grabbed an essential gigantic coffee from the lobby deli.
I have no idea why I still drink coffee. It makes me feel like death afterwards. I suppose it just smells to good to resist. Next I headed up to check in and find my costume, hat, and accessories on a wardrobe rack with my name attached.

Now a veteran banner carrier, I had learned the tricks of the trade. It is important once in costume to haul ass to the bus outside which takes everyone uptown to 80th street and Central Park West. 
Once off the bus, I walked to 77th Street and had near full selection of banners to carry.
The strategy of getting there earlier than all other banner carriers is smart because you can choose any celebrity, balloon, or float to walk with. Though the first year banner carrier may be excited to carry a banner for Santa, the veterans are secretly laughing because we all know he is fucked, and will get home well after 1pm.

This year I grabbed the banner for American Idol winner Scotty McCreery (whom I call howdy doody.)
Once I had my banner I was able to enjoy the balloons and take photos along the route before kickoff.

Somehow a lesbian couple had gotten into the secure area and were making out like it was the last day on earth in front of balloon Pillsbury Dough boy. It way like a gay porn gone wrong. I wanted to cover his eyes.

Once the parade began, I was led out in front of Scotty's giant float behind the dough boy balloon and started the 40 plus block walk to the Macy's Green. Little did I know just how popular that kid is. As soon as my banner came into view teenagers started crying, screaming, flipping out and having orgasms over Howdy Doody.

Quite a difference from carrying the obscure TakashiMurakami banner in 2010 (pictured left). 

Through the many layers of clothing that had kept my body warm, my toes and fingers were practically frozen off. I sauntered my way to 34th Street, still waving and smiling happily to the crowd through the numbness. It is honestly impossible not to have a huge smile on your face while walking in the parade. 

The excitement in the eyes generations of families and children lined up along the parade route is amazing to witness. 
Everyone is so filled with wonder and so happy to be there. Often times they yelled things to me like "we came all the way from Austrailia!", or "our grandmother wanted to see this for 50 years and she is here!". Or my favorite thing to hear "you're hot!" 

Upon nearing the live TV hotspot, PA's and producers surrounded me like mosquito's on the 4th of July. I was informed of my very distinct stopping and walking point to be while Scotty performed his song on live TV. The banner carriers are instructed to stand waaaaaay off camera, as not to get in the way of the celebrity performance shots. I was then led forward with my banner, and took a few steps, landing on that famous Macy's green with the red star. 

I looked down at the green I stood on and my mind flashed back to being a little girl on Penobscot Street in Maine, watching this very same parade on TV. I had somehow transported myself into it.

I looked up at the Macy's huge glistening lights above me which said "believe".

And at that very moment, I did.