A Day in the Life of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Handler
People get excited about Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – I’m going to march with a Pikachu balloon, according to some of the responses I’ve received since I posted it on social media last week.
Growing up, I often watched parades on television. I have fond memories of Sesame Street Float, vague memories of a Marvel hero and a villain, and I’ve always been in awe of the Superman balloon. (It turned out to be three. The last man in a steel balloon made the final parade in 1987.)
But as a kid I never thought about what a product should be for a successful parade. About a year and a half ago, I started looking for a way to get involved. (Last year I tried to do it first, but Covid shortened the length of the parade, balloons, volunteers, and spectators.)
I was brought in a row of balloon handlers – it almost feels like a whisper network, you need to know someone you know – a former colleague who had marched several times. I told her I was interested in joining and she helped me volunteer in her team this year.
The sign-up process includes uploading proof of my vaccination, watching training videos on proper care of balloon handling, and more. I added a new phrase to my vocabulary: “Bone handling.” This device is used to easily catch and pull the balloon down the path of the parade and then, leading to the deflating area.
As a native New Yorker, I look forward to participating in such a Big Apple experience, even if it is a very big day, thankfully, if the predictions are correct, with mild weather. I have to check in at 7:15 am and it will not be done after 12:30 pm
One of my worries was being late for my family’s Thanksgiving lunch as my mother’s son, a tradition that has been with me since my sister and I worked the evening shifts at The New York Times. But I went to see my mother on duty on Wednesday afternoon, told her to keep an eye on me on television, and promised to eat a lot when I arrived.
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