They Loved a Parade
LAST year, on the morning of Thanksgiving, Lisa Alpert walked from her apartment on West 75th Street and Amsterdam Avenue to Central Park West and 68th Street, as she’d done every year since 1990. As usual, she planned to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her 9-year-old son, her 7-year-old daughter and her husband.
Then she arrived at the parade route, and her heart sank. On the east side of Central Park West, a row of bleachers protected by metal barricades stretched as far as she could see in either direction. When she tried to cross the street, a security guard asked to see her tickets. She didn’t have any. “Please,” she said. “We love this parade.”
According to Gale Brewer, the councilwoman representing the Upper West Side, Ms. Alpert is one of a growing number of parents who have complained that a recent increase in grandstand seating along the parade route has spoiled their Thanksgiving Day outings.
Although Macy’s has been putting up bleachers between West 77th and 72nd Streets since 1945, recent years have seen a new crop of bleachers, erected partly by Macy’s and partly by the city, on the east side of Central Park West between 72nd and 66th Streets. In order to cross to that side, you need a ticket.
Aggravating the problem, residents say, is that the crowds on the west side of the street have been much deeper in recent years than in the past, perhaps because the bleachers take up space previously filled with paradegoers.
Many bleacher tickets are reserved for employees and guests of Macy’s. They’re not for sale. Orlando Veras, a spokesman for Macy’s, said that the company’s employees deserved a good view. “Over 5,000 Macy’s employees give up their holiday to put on the show for New Yorkers and the nation,” Mr. Veras said.
The general public, he added, can view the procession “not only from street level, but also from rooftops, balconies, windows and office buildings.”
For many Upper West Side residents, however, the idea of climbing onto a rooftop to watch the floats roll by a dozen stories below is decidedly unappealing. The east side of Central Park West is not just an ideal place from which to view the parade, they say; like the rest of the neighborhood, it’s home.
Jesse Bodine, a spokesman for Ms. Brewer’s office, referred to the street as “our backyard.” He said, “We want to be able to play.”
Sarah Worthington, a resident of West 72nd Street, is among those who blame the bleachers for destroying a cherished family tradition. For years, Ms. Worthington and her two children watched the parade from their favorite spot on the east side of Central Park West, by 68th Street. “When we were waiting for the parade to start, they could go use the playground and all that good stuff,” she said.
Not anymore. “It’s sort of a bummer,” she said.