I'm watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I haven't watched the parade in years, choosing instead to sleep in on my extra day off. But I purposely got up this morning to watch it, though also getting up so that I could work on my apartment. I've got a houseguest coming this weekend and it's made me push myself to get my apartment sorted out.
When I was a kid, we always went to my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving. My Great Aunt Peg would fly in from Missouri and stay with us for a night, then we would drive to my grandparents' the next morning. I'd always get to watch about half the parade as I waited for everyone to get ready to go. Aunt Peg would usually be ready to go early, too, and would sit with me in her wool coat, ready to leave at any moment, and watch the parade.
I feel a bit like a kid today, watching the parade. It could almost be the same parade I watched when I was 8, all the familiar things--floats, balloons, bands, songs...
I've really enjoyed watching the performances from Broadway shows. I even liked the Rockettes. I remember from my youth being bored with the school marching bands. That feeling continues...
The floats themselves remind me of being a kid. Watching the hula girls on the Hawaii float. The crocodile on the Animal Planet float. The Alice in Wonderland float. I used to love those things. They seemed so special to me. I always wanted to go to New York for the Parade.
The people on the floats are funny. When the first one came in, the Statue of Liberty float, Betty Buckley was singing America the Beautiful. I watched her, trying to figure out if she was singing or lipsynching. When she pulled the microphone away from her mouth at the end of the song, two seconds or so before her voice ended, it became clear to me. Since then it's seemed rather cheesy watching all these singers mouth the words. Billy Ray Cyrus mouthed the wrong words at one point. My favorite was the Animal Planet guy on the Animal Planet float trying to clap enthusiastically while Boyz 2 Men "performed". I kept imagining him thinking, "who are these yabbos on my float?"
The balloons have been cute. This year is the 75th year of the parade and they've reproduced some of the original balloons. The original balloons were simpler and rounder. There was a toy soldier at the beginning. There was a certain irony in the reproduction Happy the Hippo being sponsored by Yahoo. They've been showing pictures of the original balloons and floats as well. It was odd going from seeing a balloon of the original "Steamboat Mickey" era Mickey Mouse then switching to Pikachu flying through the air. I'm glad to see, though, that the announcers continue the old tradition of exclaiming about how large the balloons are. It's always nice to know that the snout of the dog carrying the Rugrats is the length of two city cabs.
I wonder what you have to pay to get a seat in the stands at Herald Square.
The celebrities have been amusing, too. The ones on the floats are people like Charles Nelson Reilly, who's known for what...being Charles Nelson Reilly? Or soap stars whom I've never heard of. Famous teen-idol bands whom I've never heard of. Florence Henderson. Willard Scott. Al Rocher interviewed teen stars from a saturday morning show. John Leguizamo managed to be cool despite being interviewed by Al at a parade. And you gotta love Tim Curry. I love the idea of him playing Scrooge.
The NYPD marching band (who knew they had a band?) marched through to the music of New York New York. The crowd was applauding so loudly I could barely hear the music. I felt a little choked up. Rudy Giuliani got almost as loud a reaction from the crowd as New York State of Mind played. A fireman sang The Star Spangled Banner to a hushed crowd.
I suddenly remembered that I'm not 8 and it's a different world from the last time I watched the parade. I guess part of me hoped that the parade would be like escapism. But I guess they'll never let us escape completely. I guess we're supposed to always remember. No matter how much I want it to just be Thanksgiving.