I am over the moon and so are all the guests that attended the Beyond Times Square VIP Thanksgiving Day ParadeViewing Party in New York City on November 22. I can confidently say a marvelous time was had by all.Besides having an unobstructed view of the parade, friends were made, cocktails where shared, numbers were exchanged, and children of all ages played together (without using iPhones) making it the perfect start to the holiday season.
For me, Thanksgiving Day began at 7:15a when I arrived at the second-floor ballroom at the Warwick Hotel located right on the Parade route in NYC. It was a balmy 22F degrees outside on the street. I could see the thousands of people who had been outside lining the streets probably since 6:30a bundled up, but still shivering. The windchill was 17 degrees, BRRRRRRR!! I felt guilty for a moment when I took my first sip of hot coffee, but I knew we had our important guests counting on us and had to get ready.
Two other BTSQ team members, Aryn and Mirka, were already on-site when I arrived, and Konstantinos, our CFO, was on the scene shortly after. We began to review our checklist to make sure the servers had tables prepared, the bartender was chilling the champagne, our caricaturist had his easel at the ready, and the games, coloring books, and markers were unwrapped and ready for use.
By 8:00a everything was set to go. Mirka acted as hostess and with me as Maitre d’, we sat the guests at their tables. Aryn and Konstantinos kept watch on the side entrances and the waitstaff ensuring the bar and buffet would open on time. By 8:30a, 95 percent of the guests had arrived, and they were greeted with a formal welcome. I could see all the excited faces, both adults and kids, seated at the tables anxiously waiting for the festivities to begin.
Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me. It was a time for friends and family to come together for no reason other than to see each other, laugh together, share stories and love one another. Each year, our event in New York City is the creation of a new Thanksgiving family for everyone in attendance. I look forward to strolling around to each table and starting the conversation. It is always great to chat with everyone to find out why they wanted to see the parade live on Thanksgiving and learn about their background. I hear Konstantinos asking people about their profession and enquiring how they entered their fields. In the background, Mirka and Aryn are making sure everyone has what they need. I listen in amazement as families debate college football and discuss the best destinations they have ever experienced. There is also something so natural about children playing together when 30 minutes ago they never knew each other.
Finally, at 9:30a, the parade starts to pass by our windows (the actual parade begins at 9:00a on the Upper West Side and weaves its way to us about 30 minutes later). We are in full view of the floats, marching bands and of course the balloons. You can easily tell that each guest has a favorite balloon. They either bring back a childhood memory (Pillsbury Dough Boy) or it is a favorite show (Pokémon). I see both children and adults’ faces plastered to the windows the entire time fulfilling a dream of seeing the parade up close. Other revelers stand at the bar, feast on turkey or eggs benedict, or just shoot the breeze with a new friend. A few brave souls will even go outside because of FOMO and then realize the parade is better in the warmth of the hotel.
To be honest, sometimes I feel as though the parade is only a vehicle to bring people together. During the year clients ask me if they should just book a hotel room with a view of the parade and watch with their family. I always explain to them that one of the best parts of our event is not only the parade but interacting with other guests who have come to New York City to share this special moment. It makes the day even more memorable when you have this type of interaction.
As Santa Claus passes us by in the late morning, everyone wonders where the time went. Confused about how we talked so much, saw so much and met so many friends in a short period. It feels like the entire morning was almost like a dream. While everyone is going on to other activities like seeing the Rockettes or ice skating at Rockefeller Center, they are all leaving with a new memory of a magical moment that could only be created in New York City. It makes my holiday season that Beyond Times Square plays a part in it.
Happy Holidays to all, and I hope you can join us next year in NYC.