We woke up when it was still dark outside and dragged the kids out of bed (sorry, kids!) and bundled up in our layers. We'd packed diapers and a Thanksgiving feast's worth of snacks into the backpack the night before. We drove into the city and parked in a garage on the upper west side - about as far west as we could stay to try to avoid parade pedestrians and traffic. Then we walked 4 long blocks over to Central Park West where there were already hundreds of people lined up/camped out. It was hard to know how far to keep going one direction or the other because every minute that passed more people would be staking out a spot. We got right behind some people in camp chairs who were behind people under sleeping bags and blankets right up at the barrier at the street. We thought we had it made because it was a big view to the street over all these sitters. Right before the parade actually started everyone cleaned up their stuff and stood. It allowed more people to be able to cram in, but it wasn't as clear a view as we originally expected. We have no idea if that's typical or not.... But we were still close enough with few enough people in front of us that we could see between heads and bodies. We held the kids up to be able to see (Andrew was mostly on my shoulders, but I had to take little breaks and just hold him in my arms because I'd get sore).
So we aimed to leave the house at 6 and were pulling out of the driveway at 6:10. We were to the garage by 6:30 and to the parade route by about 6:45. Then once you get there you just wait... easy enough for adults.... since Andrew gets limited screen time he was thrilled to sit in the stroller (just the smallest umbrella type) and watch movies and eat snacks while we waited. Ellie got tired of the carrier pretty fast and we mostly just held her, but she stood on the ground by us for little stints. We sang songs, talked to each other, talked to people around us, apologized for all the spilled snacks..., etc. It was entertaining to watch some of the sleepers wake up and hear the different groups' conversations. Most all the people we were by were pretty nice. It turned out that the sleeping on the ground group were YSA people from West Point - YCL sweatshirts, Hill Cumorah stuff, talking about EFY was what gave them away. : ) When the parade started there were some clowns passing out some really big balloons to kids/people along the barrier - whoever could reach or request one. It was either the YSAs or another nice lady that asked if our kids wanted balloons and we said they'd love them, then they passed back a big blue one that a girl tied to Andrew's coat. Ellie was really into it and disappointed not to have one, and the YSAs were able to pass back another for her. You can tell they're thick/quality balloons with quality helium. They were still at the ceiling today and the kids have loved playing with them. So that was fun.
Since we were so close to the beginning of the route (we were at about 72nd) the parade got to us by probably about 9:05/7. In all our research we learned that the farther down you go in the route the longer the viewing is - probably because of the performances, etc. We were really impressed with how efficiently the parade kept moving. It wasn't until 2/3 or 3/4 through the parade that we ever had groups have to pause in front of us and then it was just a handful of times. So for us it was an hour and a half parade (done by 10:35/7 or so) and it never felt long - just fun entertainment the whole time. Yes, it was definitely crowded leaving, but not crazy or stressful. We were glad we'd walked the little extra - we passed another garage with lots of people waiting for their cars (they're generally all valet garages). The crowds tapered as we walked back the four long blocks. Another reason we chose the garage we did was because it would be so fast and easy to just get back on Henry Hudson going north (like the freeway going up the west side). We weren't sure if it'd be bad traffic, but it wasn't bad at all. No slowing or anything. We drove back home easy in roughly 20 minutes and were back in the house relaxing upstairs to watch the rest of the parade on TV (because we could....haha) by 11:30. It was amazing how smoothly it went!!! It was fun to see on tv what we'd just seen in person.
Most people we told ahead of time that we were going to try it would tell us things like we were brave (with kids) or a little crazy. One person asked if I wanted her honest opinion then proceeded to tell me that she thought the kids were too young to enjoy it. So naturally I was super determined to have it go smoothly and have us all have a good time : ) Was it cold? Yes. (but not as cold as I thought it might be) Was it crowded? Yes, but not in a stressful way. Was it a long wait? Yes, roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes just waiting in one spot.... It was the hardest on Ellie, but none of us were ever miserable or regretted it : ) Did the kids enjoy it once the parade started? Yes, they loved it! Balloons, bands, great costumes, animals, etc. And Will passed out the m&ms at strategic moments : ) Would we do it again? Absolutely!! Probably not next year, just because.... but if you came to visit of course we would : ) Oh, were the balloons really huge? Yes... but maybe not as massive as I always thought they made it sound like on tv... It was pretty fun to watch them coming down the street then pass right over.
I don't know that I ever really had it on a "bucket list" to see it, but once we moved out here we couldn't leave without going at least once! I'm sure we'll go again.
We had made cranberry sauce, an apple pie, and a pecan pie the night before. Then after the parade we made the broccoli cauliflower bake and some peas. We had dinner with several other families in the ward (like 8?!), and that ended up being pretty fun. Everyone there had kids, except the hosts, but they had a great basement with lots of their grown kids' toys for the kids to play with. I realized I didn't take hardly any pictures there, but I do have a couple of the kids - none with Will and I. Andrew thought the sparkling cider was pretty great, and check out Ellie's Thanksgiving sampler : ) And then I think she mostly just ate the roll... haha
Now the only thing left to round out this holiday (because we already rounded out our tummies) is to watch Garfield's Thanksgiving!!! (sounds like... the dishwasher!!) (rub skin with butter.... well I don't see what good that will do...) (deep fat fry! deep fat fry! music to my ears!) (if you want me to relax take me to hawaii!) (i would not like that mr. wells) (wednesdays are good, and good for you!) (my, aren't we nasty today?!) (do the mashed potato! do the candied yam!) I could go on and on.... : )