It should come as no surprise that I am a planner, a meticulous organizer who makes sure every trip has a well researched itinerary to please all members of our traveling crew. Over the years however, I have come to listen to the little voice that reminds me now might be the time to throw the timetable out the window and grasp a “couldn’t have planned it if I tried” moment.
Without fail, when I’ve seized these moments, they have become the most cherished of memories. My favorite serendipitous moment happened two years ago in New York City.
We had the opportunity to join our West coast family in Manhattan for the three days before Thanksgiving. After an incredible visit, the girls and I had a day to ourselves on Wednesday as we waited for our 6pm train to Connecticut where we’d spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. We decided to visit the American Museum of Natural History, which is very cool in its own right. What happened when we left could never have been planned. We tried to get out out to Central Park, but the exits were off limits as they were preparing for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the next morning. We were directed to an obscure exit that took us to a semi-covered tunnel area. Central Park was to the right, but I didn’t want to go that way – If the road was already blocked off how would we get a cab to Grand Central Terminal? No, lets go left. So we did.
And found ourselves funneled into the viewing area for the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation Event.
Not only did we not plan this, I didn’t even know this event existed! We were able to walk with the hoards past the balloons as they were inflated, getting a true sense of their enormous size and learning about each balloons’ history. I honestly can’t recall exactly which balloons we saw, but I can conjure in my memory the music, festival atmosphere, and wonder that accompanied this experience. Once we were directed out of the viewing area we realized that this was no small event. Thousands of people lined the streets – which meant we had been quite lucky indeed (although we only saw half the balloons due to our unorthodox entry point) but also meant there wasn’t a cab to be seen for miles. The trade off of this experience was a missed train and later arrival in Connecticut, as well as a good 12 extra blocks of walking. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. More importantly the spontaneity and surprise of stumbling into the experience was key to the magic.
Sometimes you have to know when once-in-a-lifetime is reminding you to let go. So plan accordingly!
Check out this wonderful non-fiction read about the creator of the giant Macy’s Balloons .
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet tells the tale of puppet maker Tony Sarg and his invaluable contribution to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From his beginnings as a marionette maker to his puppet displays in Macy’s Herald Square location windows, Sarq was an innovator in the field of puppetry. In 1924 he created many of the original floats for the first Macy’s Parade. However, when Macy’s wants him to create something bigger and better, Sarq must figure out how to make puppets that are going to excite the huge crowds now attending the parade each year. With a little imagination, and innovation, Sarq proves that the amazing is possible.