It’s hard not to be awed by the enormous balloons making their way down the streets in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes to how they were designed and what one of them looked like up close, inflated.
This year they’re debuting six new balloons this year, which is a record number. That’s a bit of a misnomer for attendees, since two of the characters (Pikachu and the Pillsbury Doughboy) are regulars at the parade. But Pikachu just went through a third redesign, so it is a new balloon and Macy’s counts that as a new one. The Pillsbury Doughboy is also technically a new balloon, though the design is the same as the last one, since it flew so well and the client wanted the same thing.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrating its 88th year. If you haven’t already gone, maybe now’s the time. You’ll join 3.5 million people watching from the streets and windows, and an estimated 50 million sitting in front of the TV. As for participants? A whopping 8,000 are marching, wielding balloon strings or on floats. Look for some fun stats toward the bottom.
The parade is on Thanksgiving morning, this year it’s November 27 at 9 a.m. It takes about 90 minutes for the parade to make it from the start to the finish. Navigating the parade with kids isn’t that hard if you’re prepared. And that’s what we’re here for – your family guide to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Last time I was near the World Trade Center, the fences were still up and you needed tickets to get into the memorial area. That is no longer the case, as of May. This September 11 is the first anniversary of the memorial. You can just walk into the plaza now and visit. I’ll give more information on the bottom – you can see pictures from my visit as you scroll down.
Have you been to the Great Falls in Paterson? If not, it’s worth going. We took a trip over there this summer and it was gorgeous!
This place has a lot of history, going back to Alexander Hamilton’s time, when he envisioned Paterson as the country’s first planned industrial city. He wanted to use hydropower from the Passaic River’s Great Falls. Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (a real mouthful), started this in Paterson in 1792. Since then, Paterson’s industry became known for fabrics (silk spinning, cotton, textile machinery, jute, weaving, dyeing, etc.). When I posted a picture of the Falls on my personal Facebook page some time back, one of my friends said her first job was working in textiles in Paterson, and she’s not even old! You can read more of the history of the Great Falls here.Continue reading “The Great Falls in Paterson”
My family went to Philadelphia over our fall break (i.e. NJ Teachers Convention break) last November. It was a whirlwind of sightseeing and an awesome trip (I wrote a ton of posts on what to see in Philadelphia with kids here). But when a friend was organizing a girls’ weekend in May, I jumped at the chance. Though we had one overlap in activity (the Barnes Foundation), the entire weekend was a different experience than traveling there with kids, and even my visit to the Barnes was completely different.
Coming from the Northern NJ area, people here don’t think about spending the weekend in Philadelphia, given that the much larger New York City is so close. But Philly is close too – and there is so much to do and see there that you can’t cover it all in a weekend – or in a weekend plus the November break. Here’s how we spent our almost-48 hours. Continue reading “Weekend in Philly”
We chose the perfect day to go to Hurricane Harbor (albeit, a weekday might have been even better). It was warm, in the mid-80s, but not too hot. We hit no traffic on the way there (going home was a different story). We didn’t get sunburned! I didn’t leave with a headache from motion sickness. All in all, a great day at Hurricane Harbor, our first time at this water park.
Unfortunately the day we showed up, we didn’t realize they were closing early for a wedding, so we had to make do with peeking through the gate, and walking around the neighborhood. The good news is that you can still see a lot even when it’s closed. And just by wandering around South Street, within a few blocks of the gardens, we could still see a lot of large scale murals. There’s a list in the brochure you can get on site and probably in other tourist locations as well.
Having visited the Grounds for Sculpture recently, I was keen to get outside and see some more when my parents visited me. My mother is involved in the art world, and when I told her Storm King wasn’t too far away, she was eager to go. And we’re so glad we did. Storm King is one of the premier sculpture gardens in the world. Set on 500+ acres, the 100 or so large scale sculptures have plenty of space for themselves.
Wear good walking shoes, because you’re going to do a lot of walking. And it’s hilly. Storm King recommends spending 4-6 hours on a visit, if you have the time, and that you won’t see everything. Our goal was to see everything. We thought we did, but later saw pictures on the guides of sculptures we somehow missed during the day. We were there about four hours, and our legs were tired by the end! (see the end notes for other ways to see Storm King, like on the tram or on bikes).
If you’ve ever studied art history or art in general, you’ll recognize some of the artist names here: Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, David Smith, Nam June Paik, Mark Di Suervo, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Sol Lewitt, Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg and more. They have works from all the heavyweight sculptors, focusing on monumental sculptures from the 1960s on. Continue reading “Review: Storm King Art Center”
I learned to downhill ski in Arizona. Yes, there’s snow in Arizona – it’s up north. I learned at Snowbowl in Flagstaff (of Route 66 fame) – with my family. We still have a lot of laughs over those early skiing days. We took a family lesson, and my father tried to correct us kids, showing us what to do, even though we had an instructor there. Let me add that my father was also a beginner, with no more experience than us.
We soon switched to separate lessons. And we finally learned how to get three of us off the lift without falling into a pile.
After college I moved to California and was fortunate to have Lake Tahoe relatively close, spending many a ski weekend with coworkers and friends, and eventually my husband – at the various mountains there.
The kids took their first ski lessons at Bear Valley, in California. My son was so wiped out he fell asleep during snack time and they didn’t dare wake him for his second lesson. That one day of skiing taught us something important. If you’re going to learn to ski, you should immerse yourself for a few days to do it. And then keep it up. Continue reading “Teach your kids to ski!”
The Grounds for Sculpture had been on our bucket list for the past few years, and we finally made it there this summer (on a very hot, muggy day – with a rain interlude while we were eating lunch). If you haven’t been, you must go. This is a place you could go to multiple times and not see everything. Why? There are more than 260 sculptures spread out over 42 landscaped acres.
It’s located on former New Jersey State Fairgrounds land, and was started by J. Seward Johnson, whose work you will see prominently. More to come on him. It was Seward’s idea to make a sculpture garden open to the public, to introduce and make others comfortable with modern sculpture. The Grounds opened in 1992, financed by public bonds, private institutions and Johnson’s foundation. It transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2000. Read more of the history of the Grounds for Sculpture here.