the traveler's resource guide to festivals & films
a site
part of Insider Media llc.

Connect with us:

NYC - Inflation: Thanksgiving Variety

He flew in to join me for the holiday, remarking how strange it was that so few people seemed to be flying on this busiest travel day of the year: The day before Thanksgiving. Just as Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, immediately following a table laden with pies and feathers, berries and jelly, casseroles and native produce. Why was there not airport pandemonium?
It was clear what was happening. It wasn’t that fewer people were traveling. Millions were still hopping up to relatives and loved ones anywhere-but-nearby. They were just dialing down their travel plans. The announcers on newscasts confirmed my suspicions -- that people had traded planes for buses, cars and trains rather than the higher-ticket (if arguably faster) birds with wings of metal.
And if they arrived here in the Big Apple in large numbers -- while at a medical symposium, I noted over 1,000 cute, pony-tailed cheerleaders (of both genders) domiciling at the Hilton, here to dance and flounce at the time-honored Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual tribute to cartoon characters and beloved memorial mascots, gathered from many states--they usually made their way to the West Side for the Night Before the parade "inflation ritual." The police cordon; the civilians swarm.
We  walked uptown to the American Museum of Natural History, where flotillas of floats were laid out under tent-sized sturdy netting as these characters from Walt Disney, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Schulz and Pixar Studios slowly gained girth and hefted height. Dwarfed armies of Macy’s crews inflated these beloved characters as the evening wore on.
The floats are inflated on West 77th Street, thronged with masses of parents and pint-sized midgety kids wondering why they were being dragged along in a steady mist below the sightlines of what was transpiring over their parents’ heads; and on West 81st Street, parenthesizing the magisterial towers of the stone museum where once Margaret Mead held peremptory sway.
Befriending a genial and cool police officer, we were able to sweet-talk our way across the cordon onto the best viewing side, uptown West 81st Street, assuring all constables that we had ‘invitations’ to parties on the block.
Time was, this hallowed inflation went on all night, starting quite late, and proceeding until dawn. Some of us had had real parties then, before those friends had moved to cheaper digs, and had gaily run down from our hosts to get an egg-salad bagel or a lox-cheese croissant being handed out to anyone foolhardy and insomniac enough to still hang around in the darkest of the wee hours across from Central Park.
That’s all changed. The Macy’s people said they now began to blow up the thick PVC floats beginning before 2 pm on Wednesday, the better to have delighted children ooh and aah as they caught a glimpse of Snoopy, macho Popeye or brave Buzz Lightyear.
Halloween (at least in the canyons of New York) now officially belongs to gender-bending adults in contrived masquerade and finery. Thanksgiving’s parade still belongs, happily, to the kidlets. No snarky sophistication welcome, thank you very much.
Though the merchants along the length of the three-sided block all remained open late, not many were buying—except in the spiffy UGG boot shop next to the Reebok Sports Club emporium of beautiful people determined to remain beautiful. Cafes and eateries were pretty packed for some 10 blocks around, among them, us, consuming Hunan Cottage fare; but regular merchandise was not flying off shelves, as tired kids clung to adult hands, and prams with many sets of twins or two-sies trundled along into the back of people’s knees.
As extra inducement to wonder, backdrop to the proceedings of huffing and puffing machinery dutifully inflating two-story tall balloons, The Hayden Planetarium is magically lit with an ethereal red light inside the huge plate glass wall facing Columbus Avenue, and a glowing, eerie azure on the side facing West 81st.
Clever entrepreneurs in tacky costumes hawked photos, posing with the kiddies for a few dollars a throw, annoying purists. But evading arrest by the indulgent police. Cotton candy in tight Saran Wrap swaddling still repelled grown-up eaters of real food. Junk food was squeezed in many smeared, pudgy fingers.
From the thousands of kids and parents from New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate NY, you couldn’t tell there was a recession in the land.
Even so, we knew from even a few bantering exchanges with the night’s bright, brief visitors that this was surely the only inflation these hard-working parents were remotely fond of.

Newsletter Sign Up

Upcoming Events

No Calendar Events Found or Calendar not set to Public.