Every year on Thanksgiving morning, I shed tears. But not because I’m sad.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1992 and 1993, I had the huge honor of dancing as part of a group in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With that, came a week of fun in NYC with the group. It was truly the most amazing experience.
The first year, there were 5 of us from Westfield (I think) that went. And almost as many parents! That year we opened the parade and literally the 5 of us were front and center! I vividly remember having to be out on the street in position around 5am. It was FREEZING and raining. A great combination for gals from Georgia! Yes, I said 5am. And you are correct in thinking that the parade doesn’t start until 9am. It was a LONG wait! And in very thin uniforms. Oh well. We were so excited we got over it really fast. They said “Let’s have a parade” and our music started. We danced and were done. It was totally the most thrilling thing! Later that day, the Westfield crew went and had Thanksgiving lunch at Tony Roma’s. And then we had a dinner cruise around Manhattan that night for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time I had “stuffing” and I thought it was disgusting. I couldn’t wait to get back to some of Grannie’s dressin’!
The second year, it was just two of us (I think…somebody correct me if I’m wrong). We actually marched in the parade. We had to line up at Central Park really early. Not quite 5am, but EARLY. It wasn’t so cold that year but it was neat because Stevie Wonder was on the float in front of us and when he appeared to get set up, we just all started singing “I just called to say I Love You”! And he turned and waved at us and blew us a kiss! Even though he couldn’t see us 😉 That year we marched along the parade route and when we got to Herald Square we danced. It was thrilling, but not quite as much so as actually opening the parade. It was neat to see the millions of people lined up along Broadway watching the parade, coming through Times Square and just the sheer hugeness of everything!
I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to be a member of those parades. But mostly I am thankful to my parents for (1) letting me have the opportunity to dance – in classes and at school and (2) for somehow finding the funding to allow me to go to NYC. Hindsight tells me that it wasn’t cheap! Granted, it was my Christmas gift both years, but still…that’s a lot of money to spend on a 16/17 year old who doesn’t have a job and is pretty demanding! (yes, I just called myself demanding)
Thanks Mama and Daddy for giving me those great opportunities! Even if I didn’t act grateful then, I am extremely grateful for all you did to afford me those memories.
And tomorrow morning at 9am, I will be sitting in front of my TV crying out of sheer excitement for all the kids, teens, adults, balloon handlers, performers, band members, dancers, cheerleaders, float drivers, clowns (ugh), and even Santa Clause. It will be a moment to remember! And my husband will make fun of me for crying, but that’s OK. He can’t understand!
Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for ALL that you have every single day!