Monday, November 28, 2005

Because Nothing Says 'Thanksgiving' Like Inflatable Advertising

[photo by gail on the web]

We stayed in the perfect location to see the parade, less than two blocks away. We didn't even have to check out first -- we had enough time to see the parade, have brunch, return to the hotel, then check out. It's a good thing, too, the subways along Broadway looked pretty crowded.

We got showered, dressed, headed down the street and lo and behold -- there was SpongeBob SquarePants floating by! We even managed to make our way to the barriers at West 58th, which was good for my cousin, who's a head shorter than I am, and I'm 5'3" (160cm)! Kids were hoisted onto shoulders, but I couldn't very well do that for Maureen.

The forecast was for rain or snow, but we got neither -- a few drops splattered for less than five minutes, but otherwise the weather held out, with even some sunny periods. The organisers only cancel the parade due to high winds, which can cause the helium-filled balloons to knock over posts into the crowd. I only found out later, via the news on my mobile phone, that towards the end of the parade there was an accident involving a young girl and her older sister, sending them to the hospital with minor injuries.

The parade itself seemed shorter than I'd expected; for the Mother of All Parades in the U.S. I was expecting something bigger, maybe. I'd never seen the parade on television, even though this marks its 79th year, I'd only heard about it. After all, there is no Macy's in Canada (or any other country, for that matter, apart from U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam). But it's the most popular parade, probably owing to those huge inflatable balloons that anyone can see, even little people. Most parades just have floats, which are less visible but don't require dozens of handlers.

I brought the Pentax K-1000 and two lenses (50mm and 80-200mm zoom), the Canon A80, three flash cards, and an extra sweater, hoping to get some good crowd shots. Fat chance! I had even less room to move than in Times Square for New Year's -- there was NO WAY I could even move my hand far enough down the barrel to use the zoom, it was that tight. It's a good thing I'm not claustrophobic. Plus, the jostling and cloudy weather weren't conducive to careful film shooting and manual adjustments; it made more sense to use the digicam. I let Maureen move to the barrier for a better view, and I hung back a little, aiming for higher angle photos and using the Canon's vari-angle screen to fake some height. I'm sure the people behind me must've been annoyed every time my arm shot up to take video or a photo, but that's what we short people must do!