And the Macy’s parade in New York City.
The parade has been a part of my life since childhood. I lived a 40-minute trip from the city. But I never saw the parade there.
However, I did view it many times. Because, when I was a kid in the late 1930s and the 40s, the parade, upon completion of its New York run, shipped most of the floats, bands, and balloons to Newark. Right next door to my home in East Orange. The parade made a second run there. My dad took me when I was small, and later, as a high school student, I went with friends.
In fact, Thanksgiving morning saw us traipsing to Newark for the traditional football game between East Orange High School and that city’s Barringer High. East Orange had two high schools and mine was not East Orange. I rooted for Barringer. After the game we went to the parade.
I moved from the New York area to Florida and was the possessor of a huge 12-inch TV. I renewed my devotion to the parade as I watched it progress along the streets of Manhattan in brilliant black and white. I’ve always loved parades and this one was special.
I returned to New Jersey to take a job and also to enroll in graduate school. I would catch a bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and walk to my classes at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences located near Washington Square Park, a distance of about two miles.
As Thanksgiving approached, I’d make sure my route followed the parade path as much as possible. I’d observe the television locations that had been set up to cover it. I’d note the background the cameras would pick up as the bands and floats marched into their lenses. Then, on THE day, I’d tune in the TV, now one with color, and look for the backgrounds I’d observed, feeling pretty smart for knowing which camera was operating.
After finishing school, I again returned to Florida to spend the rest of my life, and my physical proximity to the parade ended.
But I still got excited and over the years watched it many times on successively larger TV screens.
Then I noticed changes, changes that have taken much of the joy from the experience.
The number of ads exploded. There’d always been commercials, but now they seemed overly invasive.
The splendor of the parade faded further as more and more emphasis was placed on name performers doing their stuff, detracting from the fun of the parade itself. In doing a little research for this piece, I discovered that even if you’re viewing the spectacle in person, it’s virtually impossible to see the performers at work. It seems there’s a special place set aside for them, an official telecast area that is closed to the public.
So, for me, the parade has lost its luster. Some years I don’t turn it on. Others I do, but then abandon it as once again I’m hit with an overabundance of commercials and performances.
It’s a shame. But there’s always the Rose Bowl Parade which for several years I’ve been able to watch commercial free.