For a moment, it seemed like New York was almost back to normal.
After the pandemic sparked a weakened, lengthy version of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade last year, this year’s iconic event was set to come back to life, with a full array of floats, balloons and marching bands expected to parade on Thursday. all this time. Central Park west to Herald Square.
And again it began on Wednesday with another tradition known as “Inflation Day” – public viewing on 72nd Street of giant balloons Pikachu, Papa Smurf, Smokey Bear and others stars filled with helium for the parade.
“Anyone who wants to see the balloons inflate should get off at this station,” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority driver said over a loudspeaker on the C suburban train approaching 72nd Street subway station. “You see balloons here.”
Climbing the stairs in the subway, another, less welcoming announcement sounded. “Welcome to fascist New York!” The anti-vaccine protester repeatedly yelled at the crowd, which included young children, parents and veterans in wheelchairs, as they drove past to see the balloons.
And when people rushed east along 71st Street, they were greeted by a glove of people wearing red flippers with the word “Vax Checker” on the back. The inspectors asked everyone to show their ID and vaccination cards and wear a mask.
On 81st Street, Diane Roberts, a Washington, D.C. media worker, celebrated what she called a big birthday a year later – she declined to say which one – with her four best friends who finally were able to come from all over the world. country to be with her.
One conversation that she was able to see the parade brought tears to her eyes. She was not worried about vaccine checks, crowd control, or the need for masks. “It’s a cloud above him, but I still think it’s better to be here wearing a mask than not to be here at all,” she said.
A few blocks away was the Lamar family, who had traveled from Atlanta, Georgia, on their first family trip since the pandemic began more than 20 months ago. They saw a giant green dinosaur. “The moments of celebration are important,” said Leroy Lamar, head of the non-profit organization. “And it’s important that we do them together.”