Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Love a (Macy's Thanksgiving Day) Parade

As a girl who loves holidays, costumes, themes, whimsy, and anything showy and shiny, it goes without saying that I love a good parade. For me, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is the #1 supreme granddaddy of all parades, and I love watching it on TV every year before stuffing myself into a food coma over lunch. You can't even imagine the shock and awe last year when my parents asked if Clint and I would be interested in going to New York for Thanksgiving...and watching the parade. After they peeled me off the ceiling and calmed me down from my hysterically excited state, I said that I believed I could clear my schedule and make myself available. And then I began counting down the days, and bragging to any and everyone within shouting distance.

Courtesy of an unseasonable cold front, it was snowing Wednesday night when we arrived in the Big Apple. After a dinner of towering pastrami sandwiches at Katz's Deli (you know, where Harry and Sally ate when everyone wanted to have what Sally was having), I spent most of the night checking the clock to see how much longer we had until the big day. Even my hubby was uncharacteristically excited--I have decided not to take offense that he was more excited about the parade watching than he was about our wedding day. In my defense, I did not have the advantage of giant inflatable super hero balloons the day of our nuptials thirteen years ago.

When I say we had decided to go see the parade, I want to clarify that it was never part of our plan to wind up standing outside on the street for hours, in the cold, unable to go to the bathroom for fear of losing our spot along the parade route. Instead, we booked a viewing package so that we sat inside a warm, cozy Del Frisco's steakhouse right down the street from Radio City Music Hall and enjoyed brunch and mimosas as the parade passed by our window. Have some french toast, bacon, and a Snoopy balloon right by your table, if you please. It. Was. Amazing. This is the part where I bombard you with all my pictures, so curb the jealousy and forge ahead:

The turkey kicks off the parade. Awesomeness ensues.

There goes Spiderman--close enough to touch. Or use for a photo-op.

Did I mention there was facepainting? And a DJ? And awesomeness?

Caution: parade fun may be closer than it appears.

Cheers to the Thanksgiving Day Parade! 

Dear Santa: thanks for the early present. Best day ever!

In case you couldn't tell, the experience did not disappoint. We finished off our most awesome day with a Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings at Bobby Flay's Bar Americaine, and topped that with a holiday window decorations tour. The holiday windows in New York City are more than a big deal--Barney's actually had ice skaters performing every hour on the hour in one of their storefront windows this year. Pictures really can't do all the razzle dazzle justice, but since I am already assailing you with photos, here is a sample of what we saw at Macy's, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdale's:

Holiday Window Displays 2014

I fell asleep that night thoroughly exhausted, completely full of delicious food, and thrilled right down to my holiday-loving core. It really doesn't get much better than that. Well, except for the fact that we still had two more days of enjoying the city and sightseeing. Friday morning, we hopped on the subway and headed to lower Manhattan. We went on a very moving tour of the 9/11 Memorial, guided by a survivor who worked in tower 2 and a retired firefighter who was a first responder that day.

The bronze mural outside Firehouse 10, which was among the first to respond on September 11, 2001.

The memorials feature 30-foot waterfalls--the tallest man made waterfalls in the United States.

After visiting the memorials, we got back to our more superficial selves and stopped at a fantastic little place in Tribeca called Kitchenette for lunch--complete with mac and cheese BLTs and three layer chocolate cake (good comfort food after a somber morning). We ogled the opulence at the Plaza hotel, did a little shopping at Dylan's Candy Bar and Bloomingdale's, and then enjoyed dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea, a restaurant housed in Aaron Burr's carriage house. There are tons of stories about ghosts in the restaurant, but the only thing that haunted me was trying to decide which of their desserts to enjoy.

Once I finished my cinnamon souffle at the carriage house, we headed to Radio City for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. It lives up to its name in every sense of the world--there are 3D effects, unbelievable costumes, a live nativity, and even snowflake DRONES, people. If you cannot be impressed by the use of drones during a live performance, I'm not sure what is left for you in this world.

We've seen the Rockettes three times, and they get better with every show.
Why yes, those are snowflake drones. Why not?

Saturday morning, we went to Junior's (home of the most amazing cheesecake on the planet) and had breakfast fit for a king before we hopped on the Real Kramer's Reality Tour. It was a 3-hour tour around the city guided by the man who inspired the character Kramer on the television show Seinfeld. Kenny Kramer regaled us with stories about Larry David, their friendship, and true events that turned into storylines on Seinfeld. He also took us to the Soup Man (aka Soup Nazi), where we fell in line, did as we were told, and managed to buy ourselves some pretty dang good soup without incident.

With the real Kramer, at the original Soup Man

I tried to get her to buy the tag for her Mercedes, but maybe Santa will bring it instead.....

Tom's diner, the restaurant in many an episode of Seinfeld over the years.

Once Kramer finished showing us his "reality," we headed for Rockefeller Center and to the Top of the Rock. It was almost sunset and the views of the city were gorgeous from 850 feet up. Naturally, they took a couple of souvenir photos for us:

My mom liked the posed shot of all of us...
But I thought this one really captured who we are as a family best.

We made a quick stop at Magnolia Bakery and picked up a little sustenance to take back to the hotel, then headed back towards Times Square to get ready for dinner. We feasted on a great Italian meal at Basso56 (yes, the carbs just kept on coming), and made it to our seats at Gershwin Theater just in time to see Wicked--which, despite its name, was very, very good. The costumes, the sets, and the talent were amazing. The saddest thing about it was that it was our last night in NYC...so it's a good thing we had those cupcakes waiting for us afterward as a pick-me-up.

This one is a must-see. Wicked is unbelievably good.

Like I told my parents, I'm sure that if our footprints all over the city were mapped out, it would look a lot like those old Family Circus cartoons that show Billy's steps swirling up, around, and all over the place. Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Financial District, Tribeca, Greenwich Village, and Noho--we really did cover some ground. We even managed to do some Christmas shopping in Macy's at Herald Square Thanksgiving night, and also made a stop at the beautiful St. Patrick's cathedral; we rode the NY Skyride at the Empire State building, and did I mention the M&Ms store, or checking out the Swatch watch boutique?

Whew! I'm almost tired of bragging about what a fantastic trip it was, so I'll just leave you with one more thing: my Thanksgiving was better than yours. How's that for talking turkey?

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