What NOT to do at the Macy’s Parade

If there is one thing I learned following our Thanksgiving trip to New York City for the Macy’s Parade, it’s this – don’t abandon your wife for a hot cup of coffee.

I made that mistake.

I will never make it, again – not that I’ll necessarily have the opportunity. My wife will likely see to that. And in any case, we probably won’t ever have as good an excuse to join the huge Macy’s crowd as we did this year.

My wife and I gave up the traditional turkey dinner for the bright lights of Manhattan to see our son, the college freshman, march in the Macy’s Parade with his crew – the nearly 400 other members of the West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band, more popularly known as The Pride of West Virginia.

The Pride had the honor of kicking off the parade, leading a long line of other bands from around the country, plus the floats carrying celebrities we were barely familiar with, and giant balloons of cartoon characters we generally recognized. And of course, Santa and his reindeer brought up the rear to herald the Christmas season.

But I almost mucked up the whole thing because – coffee.

I’m actually a latecomer to the joys of coffee. Despite the round-the-clock work schedule of a radio journalist, I didn’t really start brewing it regularly as part of my daily wake-up routine until several years ago.

Now, I’m a zealot – a convert who can’t do without a steaming mug, or in this case, a sturdy take-out cup.

Which is why I developed coffee envy shortly after we found the parents of another WVU band member. My wife had made plans to meet them along the parade route..

After greeting each other and enthusing about having kids in the Macy’s Parade, I zeroed in on a woman making her way through the press of people that lined our side of the street. She was using one of those handy carriers to deliver several take-out cups of coffee to a group standing near us.

The temptation was too much to overcome.

I sidled over to her and conspiratorially asked, as one coffee enthusiast to another, for directions to the nearest coffee shop.

I then did the polite thing and asked if anyone in our group wanted a cup before setting off with our daughter, who is never one to refuse a warm, cozy drink.

The walk to the coffee shop passed without incident. The only thing that briefly troubled me was having to cross the parade route in order to get where we were going.

I should have been more than briefly troubled. I should have been downright alarmed.

On our way back with a well-stocked coffee carrier of my own, I joked with our daughter about the possibility that we wouldn’t be allowed to cross back over to her mom’s side of the street.

But the joke was on me. New York’s finest really weren’t allowing anyone to cross the parade route.

My daughter and I weren’t the only ones stuck on the wrong side of the street. There were other stranded coffee addicts, too. And, no amount of pleading with the police helped. They remained unmoved, even when I tried to appeal to the married officers among them by whining that I couldn’t just leave my wife to watch the parade without us.

I was just starting to resign myself to a difficult drive home when I overheard one helpful officer say he believed his colleagues a few blocks away may be more sympathetic.

He was right.

We had to go well out of our way, but after what seemed like an eternity, we finally broke through and made it across the street.

And, not long after we rejoined my wife, The Pride marched by playing their signature tune, “Country Roads.” .

I was never happier to hear that song. And thankful to be standing near my wife as we yelled at our son as he marched by.

And I learned an important lesson.

If you are compelled to cross the street for a stupid cup of coffee just before a parade watched by millions kicks off, make your wife go with you.

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