Well, you can actually get a sneak peek of all that work at the annual “Balloon Inflation” event that takes place the day before the parade. There you can watch up-close as ginormous balloons are filled with helium and grow exponentially in size.
The process takes place right outside Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History from 12-6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. As the balloons are inflated they snake around the museum, beginning at the public entrance on 74th Street and Columbus Avenue. You’ll have to go through a security checkpoint at 72nd and Columbus and then enter the inflation area at 74th Street and Central Park West; and exit at 81st Street and Central Park West.
And note: unlike spectating at the parade itself, vaccinations are required to attend the inflation this year.
For access, guests must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in the form of one of the following:
- Original CDC Vaccination Card
- Mobile Vaccination App (such as the NYC COVID Safe App, CLEAR Health Pass, NY State Excelsior Pass)
- Photo of their Vaccination Card
Guests must also provide a photo ID with a name that matches the proof of vaccination. A negative test will not be accepted in lieu of vaccinated status. Children under 12 years old may attend with a fully vaccinated adult. Attendees are encouraged to social distance & masks will be required at all times.
Some of this year’s balloons that you can watch being blown up include: Astronaut Snoopy (it’s his 41st flight in the parade — more than any other balloon!), SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary, Pikachu™ & Eevee™, the Pillsbury Doughboy and the brand new Baby Yoda!
And new to this year is a feature where you can actually see exactly where each balloon will be blown up.
And don’t worry about them floating away early — nets and sandbags are used to hold them down!
Some tips: between 1 and 3 p.m. is the least crowded time to visit, but not as many balloons are blown up. If you go later in the evening, there will be a lot more people, but more fully inflated balloons to see.
So, your choice — more people or more balloons! You can fine more info on the Macy’s website here.