Go Behind The Scenes Of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade At UWS Balloon Inflation

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

Go Behind The Scenes Of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade At UWS Balloon Inflation

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.

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