Escape Plan: Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

One of the highlights of this holiday week each year is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. This year is no different.

The 84th annual parade kicks off on Thursday at 77th Street and Central Park. Weather forecasts are a bit shaky — some call for rain — but unless it's really windy, the parade will march on.

This year's performers include Kanye West, Jessica Simpson, Jimmy Fallon and Michael Grimm. There are seven new floats, with themes ranging from Dora the Explorer to Mount Rushmore, and two new balloons.

The plan: It works best if you're already there on Thursday, so brave the traffic — or take the train or bus — on Wednesday and head north. If you get there early enough, you can watch the balloons being inflated that evening near Central Park West.

Plan to arrive at your viewing spot early. The parade starts at 9 a.m., so you'll want to be on the route a couple hours before that. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to be on your feet for a while. (Folding chairs and the like are discouraged.)

The route changed last year, so I can't give a personal best place to watch it, since I haven't been, but expect crowds no matter where you land. Unless you're paying for a hotel that offers a special viewing space, you'll rub some shoulders.

Macy's advises that there is limited access on the east side of Central Park West from 59th Street to 75th Street because of private viewing grandstands. The best viewing will be along the west side.

The details: Many hotel packages are available — even for last-minute travelers. Go to for a list of offers. For more on the parade, go to

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