If The Thanksgiving Balloons Do Get Inflated…Here are Two Ways to Enjoy It

Photo by Scott Lynch.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade is a holiday tradition for millions of people who watch it in person or on TV. But the festivities the night before — when the balloons get inflated in the area around the Museum of Natural History — have historically been a smaller neighborhood affair.

This year, there’s an added twist to the event — the biggest balloons may not even get to float down Central Park West this year because of high winds. There’s a decent chance they’ll be inflated regardless, however, because the decision on whether they’ll float in the parade may be decided on the morning of the event.

In any case, here are two ways to enjoy it.

People who want to see the balloons will be directed to walk through the balloon inflation area along the route mapped out below. People should enter at 73rd Street and Columbus and walk to Central Park West, and then around the inflation area. It’s a crowd control issue that will hopefully keep the area moving. The event lasts from 1 to 8 p.m.

Before and after looking at the balloons, you can also attend a school carnival and fundraiser at PS 334 near the inflation event. The carnival will be going on from 2:40 to 8 p.m. at PS 334, which can be accessed from Columbus between 76th and 77th Street. Kids can pay-per-ride or a $25 wristband gets you access to all the rides.

NEWS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Carlos says:

      Brilliant move by PS 334 to monetize all of the people in the area.

      That being said, I hate to sound like a grumpy old person (I’m not that old!), but it is a shame that this quaint little event has become a huge tourist event. I am very happy to have the foot traffic in the neighborhood supporting our local businesses and schools, but this has gotten out of control. I guess it is a nice problem to have.

      • Billy Amato says:

        Well they cut down the show hours from 1 PM to 8 PMz I remember after TV exposed it, it used to go on the wee hours in the morning. They have a more of control now where you enter W. 73rd St. walking up Central Park West to 77 Street to Columbus Avenue to W. 81st St. and exit.
        I remember my parents took me back in the early 1950s (5yrs old) to this location and little did I know I will be living here for now going on 53 years. I don’t think there was not more than 50 people (any given time) at the most even after I moved in the first few years.
        So now you multiply that by three generations and of course you’re going to get a couple hundred thousand people + tomorrow night…. Hey it’s only once a year be grateful what we have and thankful and share it for the more generations to come…. now I say to you and to your family from my family and to everybody else have a wonderful Thanksgiving and more to come.

    2. Billy Amato says:

      I’m living here 52 years and remembering the first few years that nobody knew about this hidden secret until TV exposed it to the world.
      So happy about my early days here on the UWS and all the hidden perks of living here and what these people are about to adore.
      Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    3. Robert Sheridan says:

      This is my 50th anniversary in neighborhood after helping my sister move into a place on 72nd when she got out of school in 1969.

      I’ve been on the park block, 74th, since 1978. Use to have a Thanksgiving Eve party. Have folks in 10 or 11 pm for drinks in front of the fireplace. About 1PM we’d bundle up and go up to 77th Street – full open access right up to balloons and equipment. I had earlier worked for the company that then supplied the Helium (Airco), knew the hardware & truck equipment. Great fun chatting with the guys filling balloons.

      Then, next morning, plenty of space to stand right on CPW, not jostled. One year a guy had a portable bar, offered me a Bloody Mary while we were standing in a light drizzle. Great fun!

      No more these things. Thanksgiving Eve . . . as Yogi said “Nobody goes there any more since it got too crowded.” Ditto the parade while all the park block streets are jammed 100 deep at the CPW end. I now watch on TV what is going on 50 yards away.

      Oh well, the memories are great.

      Happy Thanksgiving All!


    4. Rodger Lodger says:

      I’ve seen enough hot air this Fall already.

    5. Designaddict10023 says:

      In college we’d go down at night with road sodas and watch Bart Simpsons eyes inflate … ppl living on Columbus would throw house parties and we’d be invited up …. I have great great memories of Thanksgiving Eve prior to it becoming the zoo that it’s become … that being said it’s really nice to see entire families attending in holiday gear making their own traditions and memories

      Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

    6. Doug says:

      cbsnewyork.com will be streaming a live show all about the balloon inflations at 7pm. Promise it will be a fun one

    7. yoyomama43 says:

      I remember the old days, too, when you could walk outside and check it out without a full-body pat-down and cops stopping me from trying to enter the block I live on. But PLEASE someone tell me this: How and why the prarde-day bleacher seating is OFF LIMITS to anyone who is NOT a Macy’s employee? How did residents on the side streets — as close as a HALF a block away — get completely shut out of an event that takes over their entire living space??? Why is our property given over to MACY’S EMPLOYEES??? Anyone know? 1-800-HELEN-ROSENTHAL?

      • lynn says:

        How were you shut out of the event? Just because you couldn’t get a bleacher seat? There wasn’t even a spot on the sidewalk for you? Sometimes I don’t know if these posts are real or if we’re being pranked. ; )

    8. Diane says:

      The event is over at 8 pm. What happens then? Are those sidewalks closed off? I assume people who love along the route are allowed get home. Couldn’t they bring friends with them to see the balloons after 8?