Thick rows of heavily clothed spectators lined Manhattan streets to enjoy the enormous character balloons, floats, marching bands, and other attractions of one of the coldest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades on record on Nov. 22.Onlookers used everything from woollen beanies to sleeping bags, and charcoal hand warmers to stave off the below-freezing chills and enjoy the full spectacle of the event.
This year, 16 giant character balloons, with childhood favorites such as Goku from the “Dragon Ball” anime series and Charlie Brown, more than 20 floats, and around 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers were included in the lineup of the 92nd variation of America’s largest parade.
The procession made its way down the Southern portion of Central Park West before crossing Central Park South and heading down 6th Avenue for more than 20 blocks.
Many spectators viewing from 41st Street sought refuge from the cold in the 41st and 6th Avenue Pret A Manger, which offered a partial view of the passing procession. The venue stopped taking drink orders at one point to curb the high volume of people who had filled its confines.
Garett Winn from Grants Pass, Oregon, was one of a number of spectators who had come to see their children participate in the parade.
Winn, the Chief Operating Officer of Saferoom, a panic room building company, said that he arrived at 6 a.m. to secure a prime position along the 6th Avenue barricade for viewing the procession.
He used hand warmers provided to him by a police officer to fend off the cold, he said.
Mike Spanglar and his friends arrived at 5 a.m. to take up position along the barricade near Bryant Park.
Laughing, he said that he had come in spite of the cold to tick off another box on his bucket list.
“We’ve got about six layers on—sweatshirts, three layers of pants, [and] hot hands” to manage the cold, he added.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924. The procession included exotic animals, jazz bands, and fancily-dressed Macy’s staff members.
The company’s staff members sparked off the parade when they made a request to their employer for a parade celebrating America’s freedoms and the coming of Christmas. A quarter-million spectators watched the procession that year.
Today, it is estimated that around 3.5 million spectators watched the parade from the streets of Manhattan.