LOCATION: GRAND CENTRAL STATION
There was this one time that I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and cheered Tyler on as he walked the parade as a balloon handler for Blue Sky's Scrat balloon... ;)
This was our first year at the parade. We figured at some point since we now live in New York that we would venture down one year and experience it all. This year was extra special though, because Tyler was able to be in the parade! His studio had a balloon in the parade and he was selected to be one of the balloon handlers.
Tyler had to be in the city at 6:30am, which meant we were catching the 4:55am train... it was so early. The city streets were quiet when we arrived and Tyler walked with me to a place in the parade route that I could park and wait for the parade to start. I planted myself right across the street from Bryant Park and then I waited there for the next three hours, haha! I anticipated needing to stay warm so I had plenty of layers on including base layers and Keen socks, ha!
I was thinking about all the different things I wanted to share about the parade, but I didn't want to give away any spoilers for those that may want to go, so I'll share some of my favorite moments. The marching bands were by far one of my favorite things, I think I just really like music and seeing all the kids march along the street blowing their brass horns and drum their drums. It took me right back to high school when my brother was in marching band. The balloons are maybe the best part because you actually get to see how big they a really are. And watching the parade unfold is really cool too. Seeing all the police officers come out and line the streets. Seeing people start to file up along the barricades... it's the little things. :)
TIPS FOR WATCHING THE PARADE
THE EARLIER THE BETTER: As I mentioned above we arrived in the city about 6:00am. We had never done the parade before and I thought I would arrive to the parade route seeing empty streets and just sit there sad and alone, haha! But, boy was I wrong. The parade route was already lined with people... at 6:00am. Tyler and I walked the route only a bit before we found a place across from Bryant Park were we thought I could probably see. There was already a solid line of people in front of the street barricades. Those first row people, as I lovingly call them, arrived at the parade route around 4:30am.
DON'T BOTHER BRINGING CHAIRS: The streets of the parade route get crazy packed and they don't allow chairs. If you show up at 4:30am, you are more then welcome to sit in your folding chair and hold space, but once it's near time for the parade to start they have you fold up your chairs. No chairs mean more people can fit, ha!
BE PREPARED TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR: Getting to know the people your standing near is beneficial because then you at least have someone to talk to. Because I was there alone I felt much better once I made friends with the people I was standing with. They were all very kind, all out-of-towners, and we did our best to protect each others spots as the parade route became more packed. Speaking of the parade route being packed... we were packed in like sardines. When I first arrived I was in the second row of the parade prospectors and we all had plenty of personal space and elbow room. As the parade got closer, and the streets began to fill with more people, everyone started getting way, way closer, haha.
DEHYDRATION IS CONSIDERABLE: Once you arrive at the parade route you really don't want to leave. Once you have made friends with your neighbors they will most likely hold your spot if you need to run to the restroom or grab breakfast but then you have to go through the trouble of actually finding a restroom or standing in line for food. I ate breakfast on the train and had a little bit of water, but once I arrived on the parade route at 6:00am I didn't eat or drink anything until the parade was over and I was back at Grande Central Station. I went about 6 hours without eating or drinking and I wouldn't change it. Some of the ladies I was standing with didn't leave the spots either and they were there a little bit before me.
TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY THE PARADE
FRONT ROW IS BEST: If you are able to get to the parade early enough that you can be in the front row then you're golden. Being in the front row means you can actually look down the parade route and get different perspectives of the parade. Because I was in the second row and kind of short (haha!) I was only able to take photos as the parade passed right in front of me. When Tyler's balloon got close the friends I had made, made room for me to squeeze up into the front row so I was able to snap photos of Tyler's balloon coming down the parade line.
CAPTURE THE ACTION: Some of my favorite photos to take were of the marching bands flag team because I was able to actually capture action in the photo. There were plenty of times when a band or group walked by and they were doing just that, walking. But the times when a group was performing, being able to capture them in action brings your audience right to the parade with you.
BE CAUTIOUS: ... With your elbows, haha! But seriously, things get really snuggling on the parade line. There were a few times I accidentally ran into someone. When things get crowded ask with kindness. There was one time I really wanted to look down the parade line to take a photo. The girl in front of my was standing on the street while I was on the side walk. She was just short enough that I was able to lean over her and snap a photo. I asked kindly before just leaning over her because that would have been creepy, haha!
KNOW YOUR GEAR BEFORE YOU GO: Unless you are taking multiple camera bodies, switching out lenses really isn't ideal. Once I took my camera out of my bag I didn't get into my bag again because it was too crowded. I determined ahead of time which gear I would take and which I thought would best for the parade. I took my Nikon D700 (it's counterpart) paired with my 50mm. Because the D700 is full frame the 50mm is a good pair to get everything in frame. If you are shooting with a crop sensor camera body the 50mm, might be a little tight and I would recommend the 35mm.
Once the parade ends the crowds disperse and everyone goes their separate was. Because Tyler was in the parade he was a part of deflating the ballon. We had planned at meeting somewhere after the parade, versus me just waiting on the parade line. I hung out in Bryant Park once the parade ended, but didn't stay long as it started to rain. I was so proud of myself because I was fully prepared for rain, haha! The outer shelf of my North Face Triclimate is a rain jacket and my LowePro Photo Hatchback has a rain cover. I walked down the city streets towards Grand Central and waited for Tyler to catch our train home. We had the very best time! xoxo. Samantha
P.S. Shout out to Lauren, Tyler's co-worker, for capturing Tyler holding the Scrat balloon!