A handful of people lingered at the counter at Andy’s Deli on 80th Street and Columbus Avenue, ordering bagels and coffee or picking up holiday merchandise at the last minute when Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade was held nearby.
Nick Spathis and his staff took orders and shopped from police officers and parade volunteers. Local residents come here. The other side of Columbus Avenue was full of people.
Andy’s closed last year, and for the first time Mr. Spathis, who owned the business for 33 years, did not open on Thanksgiving. And although this year Mr. Spathis opened at 5 am, the morning was quiet.
“This is not surprising to me,” he said after handing some coffee to the organizers of the Pillsbury Duffboy balloon. “With the pandemic, things are going slowly.”
“Little by little, we are succeeding,” he added later. “It could take another year.”
Businesses and entrepreneurs on Columbus Avenue, which parallel the parade route along West Central Park, have been controversial about whether the return of the parade and foot traffic has brought economic recovery. For some, the morning yawned as much as others. For others, his return brought in many customers.
A few blocks away, at the Mast Market, which opened a week ago, the first calm came around 9:30 in the morning. The store usually opened half an hour earlier than usual.
“There were enough people lining up to look inside,” said Robin Mates, market manager. “It was non-stop.”
Bank Grucan stood in Columbus and shouted, selling balloons, including one Buzz Lightyear.
Ms. Grucan is from Ecuador and has been selling her wares on Thanksgiving mornings for 12 years. She said in Spanish that by about 10 a.m. she had sold barely 20 balloons, less than half of what she had sold in years past.
For the past 40 years, Thomas Johnson has traveled from Connecticut to sell turkey hats for Thanksgiving. Last year he did not make his annual pilgrimage for the first time. “It was depressing,” said 62-year-old Johnson.
On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was smiling all over at the corner of 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
“Turkish hats,” he shouted, devouring like a turkey in his trademark headdress.
One lucky customer hailed him from the street: “My stubborn friend, you helped me look good on Facebook – thank you so much!”
The business was so busy that it could barely keep up with demand. By early morning, he had sold about 100 hats and ordered more from the supplier.
“I love this – I love this!” said Mr Johnson, holding several turkey hats and raising his hands in the air. According to him, people and costumes bring him joy. He has appeared in at least one photo with customers.
“If my friends could see me now, they would laugh,” he added later, saying that he was a teacher. “I usually wear a suit and tie.”