UPPER WEST SIDE — If you want to catch an advance glimpse of the gigantic balloons that are part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, head to the Upper West Side to watch the inflation the day before the big day.
A beloved tradition for locals and tourists alike — without the huge crowds the parade itself draws — the balloon inflation starts in the afternoon on Wednesday, along West 77th and West 81st streets between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
How to Watch
Residents living along the two blocks overlooking the inflation sites typically host annual viewing parties to watch from the windows as their favorite characters, which can be as large as 50-feet long and nearly 40-feet wide, come to life.
The New-York Historical Society, which sits on the corner of West 77th Street and Central Park West, also hosts a viewing party for members, with family activities and access to exhibits inside the museum.
But if you aren't invited to an indoor party invite, you can line up along the street to attend this free holiday event. The area opens to the public at 3 p.m., and the balloons are visible until around 10 p.m.
There are five new balloons joining the parade lineup this year. Trixie, a bouncing dog, and a collection of characters from the movie "Trolls" will be seen for the very first time. Previous parade participants Charlie Brown, Felix the Cat, and Greg Heffley from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series will get new looks with updated balloons.
The public entrance for balloon viewing is on the west side of Columbus Avenue at West 79th Street. The line to get past security and into the viewing area can be lengthy, past participants have said.
This is the 90th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is typically attended by about 3.5 million people.
Parking is extremely limited in the area; many streets and avenues between West 61st and West 81st streets will have no parking starting Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 6 a.m. and continuing through Thursday, Nov. 24. The NYPD will relocate cars illegally parked.
The closest subway stations to access the balloon inflation are the 79th Street 1 train station on Broadway and the 81st Street B/C train station on Central Park West.