The day before Thanksgiving, the gigantic balloons that float their way down Manhattan avenues for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade get stuffed with helium and weighed down with sandbags in preparation for their grand debut. The annual inflation, a majestic ceremony in its own right, marks a pivotal moment in ensuring that all will go as planned during the widely-broadcasted parade. It also is an opportunity for enthusiasts to see the massive inflatable art up close.
This year, the parade’s 16 character balloons — along with 40 heritage balloons and a score of balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons — will be inflated just outside the American Museum of Natural History from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Spectators can catch a glimpse of the new class of inflatables, including Yayoi Kusama’s “Love Flies Up to the Sky” and Smokey Bear, by queuing through the entrance point at 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
Broken into two main inflation areas, with one on 77th Street and another on 81st, the observation path winds its way around the museum along Columbus Avenue. The event is expected to draw around 1 million people during its seven-hour inflation period. Officials from the parade suggest commuting by subway (as parking will be restricted) and taking advantage of thinner crowds from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., when the balloons are just beginning to take shape.
Now in its 93rd iteration, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade features several legacy balloons, such as Snoopy, who makes his 40th flight this year, and the Pillsbury Doughboy, which, according to the parade website, would require more than four million crescent rolls to create in dough form.
Here’s where to find the balloons once inside of the inflation area:
Featured Balloons on 77th Street:
- Astronaut Snoopy
- Jett from Super Wings
- Power Rangers Mighty Morphin Red Ranger
- Chase from PAW Patrol
- Go Bowling Balloonicles
- Ronald McDonald
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham
- Sinclair’s Baby DINOs Balloonicles
- Aflac Duck Balloonicle
Featured Balloons on 81st Street:
- “Love Flies Up to the Sky” by Yayoi Kusama
- SpongeBob SquarePants and Gary
- Smokey Bear
- Sinclair Oil’s DINO
- The Elf on the Shelf
- Illumination presents Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch”
- Pillsbury Doughboy
- Universal Orlando Resort’s “The Nutcracker”
- Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen 2”
Top Image: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.