It’s A Great Time in New York For The Holidays

Manhattan is the place to be during the holiday season whether it was Herald Square on Thanksgiving, Rockefeller Center for the tree lighting, or Times Square on New Year’s Eve, New Yorkers will be able to experience some of the biggest celebrations and longest traditions in the world.

It was 1924 when the tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade all began. It is not the oldest parade in the U.S. for it is tied with the America’s Thanksgiving Parade started on that same day back in 1924 and continually runs today.

The parade was originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, employees from the store and professional entertainers marched from 145th street in Harlem to Herald Square wearing costumes. There were floats, bands, and even live animals that were borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.

In the 1940s, the celebration was halted due to World War II, rubber and helium were scarce and all was needed for the war. In 1945, the parade resumed.

Even 83 years ago the parade was closed by the big man himself: Santa Claus.

“When you see Santa marching down 34th street to close out the parade every Thanksgiving, to me that is the official start of the Christmas season,” said Mercy College student Jennifer Bryant.

Bryant who annually watches the parade on television with her family, says she has never been brave enough to actually go down to the city and experience the parade first hand.

“It’s always so crowded, we would have to get there in the middle of the night to get a good seat, not to even mention how cold it usually is,” she said.

High winds and rain on that day have been known to throw balloons of course and injuries have occurred. In 1997 high winds caused a balloon to hit a lamp post, the debris from the post fell on a spectator fracturing her skull and landing her in a coma for a month.

According to the Nielsen Ratings system, approximately 22.3 million viewers watched the telecast this year, the highest it has been since 2001.

If it’s the wind during the parade that shivers the bones of the spectators then it’s the chill in the air in early December that rattles the bones of those out to see the enormous Christmas tree being brought to life at Rockefeller Center.

Typically taken place the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, The Tree at Rockefeller Center has been an annual tradition since the Great Depression. Unlike now when most of the trees are typically a Norway Spruce anywhere from 75 to 90 feet tall, then the trees were small balsam fir trees.

Today the selection process for the tree is a year-round job, people from around the country send in their pictures and write to Rockefeller Center their pride and glory spruces on their property. After traveling house to house, a tree is selected. The tree is then cut down and driven to Rockefeller Center where it is decorated with more than 30,000 LED lights, and topped with a 550 pound Swarovski Star.

Millions of people from all over the world travel to New York to see the tree and all that the city has to offer during the holiday season. According to the Associated Press, this year’s tree is from a school teacher from Easton, Connecticut. The tree will be up and lit until the second week in January.

The temperature typically resembles an Arctic chill when millions of spectators cram Times Square on New Year’s eve to watch the ball drop and ring in the new year.

A tradition that first started in 1907, with a ball made of wood and iron, decorated with light bulbs. Unlike the giant laminating sign under the ball spectators see today expressing the celebrated year in 1907, men wore battery operated top hats, and flipped their lids when the clock struck midnight to expose the “1907” of the new year.

Since 1907, with the exception of two years during World War II, the tradition has been upheld and continues to be one of the most watched New Year’s celebration worldwide.

“I went this past year and the temperature was about 18 degrees,” said Mercy College student Robert Disalvo. “And that’s not even factoring in the wind chill.”

On record, the coldest New Years Eve in New York was in 1917, when the temperature reached a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit. According the National Weather Association, the average temperature on that night is about 33.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

“You always hear horror stories from that night, about the crowd getting out of control, but with as many police officers I saw I don’t see that happening any time soon,” said Disalvo.

Going to the event is a strict operation, the square is blocked off in different sections on a first come first serve basis, you may leave these sections however you may not return, once the sections are full they are closed, according to TimesSquareNYC.org.

Those who wish to attend the celebration this year are expected to start filling up the sections at around 3 p.m.