Where to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is Thursday, but visitors can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse ahead of time when the balloons are inflated Wednesday.

Head to the area around the American Museum of Natural History at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side to watch the balloons come to life starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Admission to the balloon area stops at 9:15 p.m. and viewing ends at 10 p.m.

Follow the path around the museum to see a number of balloons as they’re blown up. The path starts at West 79th and Columbus and moves along Columbus, West 77th Street, Central Park West and West 81st Street.

Public transportation is the best way to get to the inflation area as the event is usually crowded, which restricts parking and taxi access.

Balloons have been used in the parade since 1927. Felix the Cat was the first balloon to debut in the parade, three years after the festivity began in 1924.

On average, each balloon is 40 feet tall. Their massive size requires teams of balloon handlers to pull them along the parade route.