Enjoying the Parade

By Amy Miller

My friend has dubbed her friend who regularly and proudly boasts of seeing the sun rise and hearing the first birds chirp one of those “special early morning people.”

Well, I have my own version of “special people” – they are the “special I-don’t-drive-over-the-holidays people.” To them I say “Ha”.

Ha, because I joined some 43.6 million other people on the highway Thanksgiving weekend and never got stuck in traffic. Leaving at 8 pm on both sides of the trip, my family made the 270-mile drive between Maine and New York City in 4.75 hours.

And while the special “I don’t drive over the holidays people” were among the 44 million people watching the parade on the tube, my family was among the elite 3 million who saw the Pillsbury Doughboy, Dora the Explorer AND the entire women’s Olympic gymnastics team in real life.

Even more thrilling than seeing the annual Macy Day Parade, though, was being among the people crowding 10 rows thick but nonetheless keeping their humor. We talked to the Cuban American from Miami, at her first parade; the couple from Rockville, who came for the umpteenth time even as their 20-something boys slept at home, and the 4-foot 10-inch grandmother visiting from Ecuador who waited quietly until someone gave her the same right of way normally afford only to children.

The Macy’s Day Parade has to be one of the most wonderful displays of humanity. Yes, there is some pushing and shoving and frustration. But so little of it. Mostly, whether it is pouring rain or 5 degrees above zero, whether people are in the front of the pack or stuck in back catching little except the helium-filled balloons that have defined the parade since Felix the Cat arrived at the third parade in 1927, the crowd is friendly and festive. Together we share stories, knowledge of passing celebrities and crackers for hungry children.

After several decades of parade attendance, it was the first time I ever went early and staked out a spot along the 2.5-mile route. (No, it was not my idea but with temperatures expected to reach 60 in Central Park, I ceded to my kids’ wishes.)

Two days later, as we rolled into our quiet Maine village at midnight, my husband and I congratulated each other on our peaceful journey through the crowds of a holiday weekend.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.