Waking up to big branded balloons on Thanksgiving Day

A first-year international student’s first experience at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Augustin Langlet

The Thanksgiving Day Parade is organized by Macy’s, a U.S.-based department store chain who owns a flagship store at Sixth and 34th Street.

Augustin Langlet, Staff Photographer

When your friends are traveling or going home for the holiday, the best thing left to do in the city on Thanksgiving is to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The annual parade has become a staple of New York Thanksgiving celebrations, attracting thousands of New Yorkers to the avenues in Midtown Manhattan. To the newcomers, the parade is one of the city’s special sights. Here is the parade seen from the lens of first-year international student Augustin Langlet.

A large crowd of people walk on the sidewalk of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. The car lanes are fenced off and empty. A garbage truck is parked on the side
The parade takes place on Sixth Avenue, also known as Avenue of the Americas, starting from Central Park and ending at Herald Square.

Before the parade started at 9 a.m. crowds flooded 42nd Street and every block between Central Park and Herald Square on Sixth Avenue as early as 6 a.m.

Three police officers wearing blue helmets riding horses down Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. They are waving toward the crowd who gathered behind the fences on the sidewalks
The NYPD maintained a constant but non-intrusive presence at the parade.
A marching band wearing identical yellow suits, black pants, and feathered hats walking down Sixth Avenue in Manhattan while playing clarinets. In the foreground are crowds watching the parade.

Spread out into groups are New York City Police Department officers on horseback, and marching bands, integrating seamlessly into the parade. 

A large balloon in the shape of SpongeBob SquarePants floats above Sixth Avenue in Manhattan while crowds take photos of it with their phones.
SpongeBob SquarePants from Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants.
A large balloon in the shape of Boss Baby, a white baby with blond hair dressed in black suit and tie.
The Boss Baby from the movie Boss Baby.
A large balloon of Baby Yoda floating above Sixth Avenue next to the Empire State Building.
Grogu, more commonly known as “Baby Yoda,” from the Mandalorian.
A large balloon of Greg Heffley from Diary Of a Wimpy Kid. He is a young school boy dressed in a white t-shirt, black shorts, and red and white sneakers wearing a black backpack.
Greg Heffley from Diary Of a Wimpy Kid.

Five-story-tall balloons flying between the Midtown skyscrapers are a sight to behold. This year’s lineup was a combination of classics and new designs like SpongeBob SquarePants, The Boss Baby, Baby Yoda and Greg Heffley from The Diary Of a Wimpy Kid.

A balloon of a light blue reindeer floating in front of a crowd of bystanders on Sixth Avenue.

Some balloons and balloonicles are livelier than the others, such as Macy’s reindeer Tiptoe and the Go Bowling balloons. Residents in the midtown condominium also tuned into the parade from their building windows.

A recreation of a house in Sesame Street featuring Grover, Elmo, and Ernie proceeds on Sixth Avenue. In the background are bystanders looking at the parade through building windows.
A young boy dressed in a dark green puffer jacket sits atop a man’s shoulders in a crowd of bystanders.
Three kids stand atop a silver ladder to watch the parade behind a line of adults.
Kids stand atop a silver ladder to watch the parade behind a line of adults.
Holiday-themed Starbucks paper cups and other trash were left on the sidewalk as trash cans overloaded.
Holiday-themed Starbucks paper cups and other trash were left on the sidewalk as trash cans overflowed.

A tradition since the first Thanksgiving parade in 1924, Santa greets a sea of people — and more recently smartphones — to end the parade and begin the most consumerist season of the year.

A crowd of bystanders in the foreground watching Santa Claus and his sleigh proceed down Sixth Avenue.

Standing in a relatively inactive crowd for a few hours doesn’t exactly make this the most engaging experience you could have during Thanksgiving break. However, being able to see huge balloons weave through skyscrapers above huge crowds is something you can only see in New York City during Thanksgiving.

Developed for web by Samson Tu

Contact Augustin Langlet at [email protected]