New York City Thanksgiving -- Thanksgiving In New York City
Celebrating Thanksgiving In The Big Apple
Thanksgiving is a holiday that's traditionally centered around being with family, friends and good food. Of course, it's also the "gateway" to Christmas in the United States, as many consider Thanksgiving weekend to be the kickoff to the Christmas holiday season (though in recent years many people are already beginning to celebrate Christmas in October). This is the weekend when many families start putting up their Christmas decorations and Christmas lights, or begin shopping for gifts. In fact, we call the day after Thanksgiving -- which most people have off from work -- Black Friday because it's the craziest shopping day of the year. Seriously. I once made the mistake of trying to shop on Black Friday and well, never again, because it was chaos!
In New York City, though, Thanksgiving itself gets plenty of notice, as there are plenty of things to do for Thanksgiving in the Big Apple. Many of the restaurants are open for the holidays, saving people from having to make Thanksgiving dinner. There are Thanksgiving cruises, where passengers can get away from the stress of dealing with shopping or family members and enjoy some peace. And then there's the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is definitely one of Manhattan's most colorful events.
If you're in New York City this Thanksgiving, take in a breath of the crisp, fall air and get ready to have some fun. There's plenty to do, so read on!
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The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
By far, the most popular Thanksgiving event in New York City is the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This elaborate production, which travels down 7th Avenue (prior to 2009, it traveled down Broadway), includes marching bands, dancers, clowns, acrobats, live singers, the Radio City Rockettes, a guest visit from Santa, and of course, larger-than-live floats and balloons, which it is best known for. These balloons are absolutely enormous and are in the likeness of popular cartoon characters, such as Dora The Explorer, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Homer Simpson and Garfield. Each year, new floats are added for variety.
Believe it or not, this parade has been put on each year since 1924! In the first parade, live animals from the Central Park Zoo were part of the festivities. Those large helium-filled balloons were introduced three years later.
These days, the parade is one of the most-attended events in New York City, with a whopping 3 million people in New York. So my advice? Get there early and prepare yourself for some chilly weather and wild crowds.
New York City Thanksgiving Cruises
Several companies, including Spirit Cruises (see the link below) offer Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day cruises from New York and New Jersey. These are worth taking if you want to avoid having to cook dinner or do something a little different with your friends and family.
I love boats, so over the years, I've been on many different cruises that sail around Manhattan and well, call me biased, but they are amazing. The skyline is gorgeos during both the daytime and nighttime and I always feel a surge of pride whenever we go past the Statue Of Liberty. I enjoy taking boat cruises because aside from them being fun and relaxing, it gives me a chance to see the city in a whole, new light. Since Manhattan is, after all, an island, its maritime history is worth checking out.
Most of the cruises are about 3 hours and serve an extensive Thanksgiving feast with all of the fixings. Almost all are around $75 per person, but if you take into account how much it would cost to prepare dinner and how many hours you'd take in, it's worth the money. And what could be more peaceful than watching the sun set over New York City?
Making Of The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats
Useful New York Links
Places To Have Thanksgiving Dinner In New York City
If you want to skip making Thanksgiving dinner or get a bite to eat after enjoying the parade, here are some places where you can dine in style:
Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Avenue): This upscale restaurant serves high-end meals made from fresh, organic ingredients. Though they're open for Thanksgiving, be sure to book as early as possible because seats fill up fast for the holiday!
Craft (43 E. 19th Street): Fans of TOP CHEF will recognize Craft as the restaurant that's owned by head judge, Chef Tom Colicchio. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to check of his offerings (and see if he really has any business critiquing others' dishes) because the restaurant is offering a full-course turkey feast.
Angelo & Maxie's (233 Park Avenue): At about $33 per person, this is one of the more reasonable places to get a holiday meal in Manhattan. The menu includes turkey, of course, as well as mushroom soup and garlic mashed potatoes, as well as plenty of other goodies.
Atlantic Grill (1341 3rd Avenue): This place also offers a typical Thanksgiving feast. However, if you're sick of turkey, they'll also be serving sushi.
Places To Do Volunteer Work In New York On Thanksgiving
As delicious as a great Thanksgiving meal can be, it can be equally satisfying to help feed the less fortunate. Here are some of the shelters in New York City that are seeking volunteers:
The Bowery Mission (227 Bowery): 1-800-871-6347
New York Cares (214 W. 29th St. 5th Floor): 212-228-5000
City Meals On Wheels (355 Lexington Avenue): 212-687-1234