By Peggy Taylor
When the C train approached the 72nd Street stop on Central Park West on Wednesday afternoon, the conductor asked for the straphangers’ attention: “For those of you going to the Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation, you must get off at 72nd Street,” he said. “You won’t see the balloons from 81st Street.”
And get off they did, by the hundreds. The train almost fully emptied out as they rushed through the station and up the stairs, then onto Central Park West where they packed themselves between police barricades on a gloriously sunny, windless, perfect, balloon-inflation day.
I, however, armed with a press pass, didn’t heed the conductor’s advice and rode on to 81st Street, where even larger crowds were already packing the sidewalks and taking in the annual event: young and old, Upper West Siders, tourists, New Yorkers from all five boroughs who had seen it every year, but never tire of the colorful, exhilarating spectacle.
At 81st Street, I delighted in the lineup of inflated and not-yet inflated balloons, tended to by jumpsuited handlers, in matching colors, who inflated them through lines filled with hissing helium.
Click on our holiday event roundup for information about Thursday’s parade.