By Robert Beck
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a whole lot different in real life than it is on the flat screen. The live experience is much better. For one thing, you won’t believe how big those marching bands are. They go from horizon to horizon. The music sends a thrill through you. And the balloons—well, there’s nothin’ like it. The cheerful atmosphere is irresistible.
For some, attending the parade is a friends-and-family tradition. One group that shows up every year along Central Park near 66th Street brings large garbage bags filled with confetti. They have so much that after throwing it and throwing it, a pile forms in front of them, and they just scoop it back up and throw it again.
One time, a few people wearing expensive clothes and looking very anchorperson came wandering down 66th like maybe they heard the music and emerged from ABC to see what all the fuss was about. The crowd behind the barriers on the other side of Central Park West saw them and started waving and cheering. One of the manicured media folks — a gentleman wearing a black cashmere coat, Velasca shoes, and black leather gloves — couldn’t resist the adulation, and when there was a gap in the parade, he walked across the street to greet his admirers. It was the perfect setup.
He just reached the other side and was extending his hand when an explosion of confetti engulfed him. And another. And another. Pow, pow, pow, in short order. When the cloud settled, he stood with his hands at his sides, blinking in surprise, covered with white paper bits, head and shoulders, in every seam and fold, nearly up to his knees. It’s hard to execute a graceful withdrawal from that. I’m sure he was finding the stuff in pockets and cuffs weeks later.
He wasn’t the only one to get a face full. They nailed anybody who got close enough. Balloon wranglers, politicos, and musicians (I’m sure the Purdue Marching Band tuba guy dumped some out of his instrument on the bus ride home). No one in range was spared.
If you live near the route, you can’t help but be amazed at the coordinated effort by the city, not just to get things ready but to clean up and put them back in working order. Right behind Santa’s sleigh comes an army of people and trucks sweeping the street and swinging the lights and traffic signals back into place. Next thing you know, the parade route looks like nothing happened. One big swirl of cars, people, bicycles, horns, and sirens. And not a speck of confetti.
See more of Robert Beck’s work and his UWS studio by visiting www.robertbeck.net And let Robert know if you have a connection to an archetypal UWS place or event that would make a good West Side Canvas subject. Thank you!
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