Macy’s Pre-Parade Balloon-Inflation Event Is On; See the New Requirements and Where to Watch

Diagram courtesy of Macy’s.

By Carol Tannenhauser

When Macy’s announced in September that the Thanksgiving Day Parade will once again be a live event this year, with balloons parading through the city to the midtown store, it left the return of the annual balloon inflation event “up in the air.”

Now, Macy’s has announced that the public will once again be able to witness the filling of the parade’s iconic characters, in the following release:

Macy’s signature giant character balloons will be prepared for their Thanksgiving Day flights on Wednesday, November 24, on the Upper West Side. The Macy’s Balloon Inflation Celebration will be open to public viewing from 12:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M., and will be limited to vaccinated guests and conducted with capacity limits to ensure social distancing practices are implemented.

For access, guests must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in the form of one of the following:
Original CDC Vaccination Card
Mobile Vaccination App (such as the NYC COVID Safe App, CLEAR Health Pass, NY State Excelsior Pass)
Photo of their Vaccination Card

Guests must also provide a photo ID with a name that matches the proof of vaccination. A negative test will not be accepted in lieu of vaccinated status. Children under the age of 12 who are not eligible to receive vaccinations may be accompanied by a vaccinated adult [note: children 5-11 are now eligible to get the vaccine but are unlikely to have received both shots by the time of the event]. Attendees are encouraged to social distance and masks will be required at all times. Entry to Balloon Inflation can be accessed at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue. Following the vaccine verification and security check, guests will be able to move through the checkpoint to view the balloons on 77th and 81st Streets.

Macy’s also released the following details about the parade route and public viewing:

For spectators wishing to enjoy the spectacle live, the 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9:00 A.M., kicking off from its traditional starting line at 77th Street and Central Park West. From there the procession will march down its signature 2.5-mile route taking it from Central Park West to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and then marching down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

Public viewing will be set up along designated portions of the route and managed by the NYPD. Spectators should avoid bringing large bags, umbrellas, backpacks and strollers. The public entering viewing streets may be subject to security search. For additional viewing information, please visit

NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Joanne the miscontent says:

      2 years ago I wanted to go for a run in Central Park the Wednesday evening before the parade and was so annoyed with the crowds. Last year I was feeling sentimental, almost missing the crowds. So, will I be happy this year to see them back or wishing for quieter times?

    2. PickUp Litter says:

      Watch out for the timing and intensity of the forecasted winter storm! Could be bad Tue or Wed, which will impact balloon inflation AND holiday travel. Link to the NOAA ongoing analysis of the developing storm system:

    3. Emailie says:

      So you need to be vaccinated to walk around outside?

      • EcoBill says:

        No, you need to be vaccinated to stand cheek to jowl with your fellow viewers. Check it out – there is still a serious health event going on. If getting the shots bothers you, I suggest North Dakota. Although I’m not sure what the big balloons there look like.

        • Covid Jones says:

          A “serious health event”, indeed.

          Mass hysteria. A serious mental health event.

          • Pedestrian says:

            Covid Jones, indeed. You certainly have chosen an appropriate name.

          • Jane says:

            Spoken to any nurses or doctors who are working with patients with the virus?

            Then, there are always jerks who are ill with colds and flu who will not want to deny themselves an “experience.”

            As for you? Please just stay home.

    4. William Meister says:

      I lived at 40 W. 77th St, back in the day, and it was jut a step out the door to see it all. What a ridiculous set of rules for an OUTDOOR event. I live in DE now, near where the pres has his summer home, and rules like this are unheard of for our parades & etc here. Hope your new Mayor is not as benighted as the present one.

      • MR says:

        The rule about “no public viewing” on the block where 40 West 77th Street — did that not come about at the insistence of people who live on that block of West 77th Street?

    5. Pedestrian says:

      Just looking at the map is seems to be that crowding the people on one street and placing the balloons in one place in stead of up and down two streets makes crowding so more likely. Who designed this arrangement?

    6. Courtney says:

      Will people be able to access the area to see the balloons after 6pm? Thank you!