categories: Cocktail Hour
The view from my father-in-law’s apartment in New York is always nice–Central Park. But the sixth floor is just about right on Thanksgiving Day, when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goes by. This year we trimmed things down quite a bit, as Grandpa Frank wasn’t up for the usual party. But over the years he’s always given a speech and hosted the parade as if it were his own. My favorite year was the one the Harvey Fierstein played Mrs. Santa. Santa, of course, always just plays himself. As the last celebrity on the route, he ushers in the Christmas season, and reminds us that it’s all a big commercial, after all! But don’t those floats warm my heart, and the balloons, many of them ragged, pull me back to more innocent days.
In 1929, one of the first parades, the balloons were released at the end of the route, with address tags for return. There’s an amazing video extant that shows Wimpy, the Popeye character (“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”) being let go and disappearing into the sky. I can’t find the clip right now, as the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon is obscuring all searches.
Another, more recent year, the wind was so strong that Kermit the Frog scraped along the buildings here and we could pet him. Later, he popped. Another balloon went so far off course that it knocked a traffic light down, killing a parade goer, very sadly. But, oblivious of that tragedy, we enjoyed watching the balloon wranglers being pulled off their feet, members of the crowd joining in to add ballast.
The night before, it used to be fun to go up to 79th and 81st Streets to watch the inflation, roam among the characters. But now that practice has grown so much it’s just another managed crowd scene–last year, we spent nearly two hours shuffling among thousands of people through barricade walks, no fun anymore.
Doesn’t the world suck?
No, it’s still fun. And it’s truly great to see the kids of our friends and the cousins of the cousins all leaning precariously out the window, shouting to the pop stars to get them to look up and wave. And it’s great to see Grandpa Frank leaning on his walker, still enthralled, or at least less irascible than usual.