When in Rome, Wave at the Pillsbury Doughboy

The Pillsbury Doughboy

I wonder how foreign tourists feel in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day. Do they search for “local” flavor the same way backpackers clamor for an obscure, off the beaten path scene during an overseas festival? Fireworks and tango in Spain; paint-throwing in India. Here, it’s “We need to find a down-home American family cooking turkey, cranberries and potatoes. We’ll watch football and gorge ourselves. It’s a tradition!”

Even living here for five weeks, we remain tourists in NYC. So, waking to falling snowflakes on Thanksgiving Day, we did what any red-blooded New York visitor does: shouldered through crowds to watch the Macy’s Parade. And as Spiderman, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Sponge Bob Square Pants floated by on Central Park West, we mashed in with everyone and laughed at the scene, chatting amiably with people.

A little girl watches in delight as Sponge Bob Square Pants floats on by.

A little girl watches in delight as Sponge Bob Square Pants floats on by.

Stomping our feet to stay warm, holiday cheer jingled in the air. Balloon sellers hawked replicas of the floats; kids perched on police car roofs, gaping at the floats and cheering at marching bands. Eventually, Santa’s sleigh slid by followed by giant red stars proclaiming “Believe” and the holiday tradition finished. Sporting smiles, the crowd dispersed to watch the Bears and Lions face off and roll their eyes during drunk uncle Henry’s rants about how the Democrats are screwing everything up.

Kids snag a better view of the parade. (C photo credit)

Kids snag a better view of the parade. (C photo credit)

Last year, we spent Thanksgiving hiking and camping in California redwood groves. Enjoying it with a million people in Manhattan is 180 degrees (and a lot of biking) away. And it’s all good! Because even as a tourist, when you’re in the middle of a country’s tradition, holidays knock down walls. People are more gracious when lights twinkle in storefront windows. Everybody says “happy holidays” after a short conversation with the restaurant table next to them. And if a parade of inflated icons facilitates that in a busy city like New York, sign me up.

Hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving!

Dakota

P.S. Join us in celebrating Buy Nothing Day today on Black Friday to focus on friends, family and experiences instead. Here’s the Minimalists’ great post about it.

Papa Smurf rolls on by as kids watch from the top of a police van (C photo credit)

Papa Smurf rolls on by as kids watch from the top of a police van (C photo credit)

2 replies
  1. Jeffrey Fritts
    Jeffrey Fritts says:

    Dakota and Chelsea, Happy Thanksgiving – Merry Christmas – and looking forward to riding that new Roubaix into the New Year. During my Air Force days I once spent Thanksgiving in Turkey. Yes, we had turkey in Turkey as well as pumpkin pie some great German wine and all the trimmings. My favorite thing about riding in Turkey was the mix of traffic. People on foot (of course), donkey carts, trucks and cars, did I mention the donkey carts? … (watch out for the donkey … oh, I’ll have to clean that off my bike before I take it in my room back at the Q.)
    Happy Holidays
    AK Jeff riding his AWOL

    Reply

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