Remember me to Herald Square

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Neosho Daily News

Every year, for as long as I can remember, part of my Thanksgiving Day tradition was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. In my earliest years, we went to Granny and Pop's for the holiday, partly because that's where the family gathered but also because they had a color television before we did. That meant I could watch the parade in color.

I've watched the parade since, in many different homes and places but it's been a constant in marking the holiday, almost as much as the turkey and dressing.

I watched it in vivid color with Pop in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri and later at my own home as the Thanksgiving festivities moved to our address.

After my family moved to Neosho, I watched it here.

Once I had a family of my own, tuning it in and watching with the kids continued the tradition.

Even the year that my husband had major surgery the day before Thanksgiving and our turkey dinner came from the hospital cafeteria, we still managed, as a family, to watch some of the Macy's Parade in his room at Freeman West.

Thanksgiving for me includes the sound of bands, the sight of those famous balloons high aloft, festive floats, dance numbers, performances by singers, and the anticipation to see Santa Claus at the end of the parade.

The parade is depicted in one of my favorite Christmas movies - Miracle on 34th Street.

I've been to New York, walked along 34th Street and visited Macy's flag ship store on Herald Square but I've never watched the parade in person. That experience is on my bucket list right alongside watching Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden.

This year wouldn't be the year for either or the time to revisit New York but maybe someday. Like George M. Cohan wrote and James Cagney sang in "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "give my regards to Broadway and remember me to Herald Square".

This year, for the first time in my lifetime, the parade won't be the same. It will happen but there will be no spectators on site. They'll watch on television with the parade's events happening in one place - the area of Herald Square instead of trekking from the Central Park area to Macy's.

The number of staff needed to carry off the parade is down 70% or so but the show - or in this case - the parade will go on.

For many, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade will be a constant in a year of changes. Thanksgiving dinners may be downsized due to the rising cases of COVID-19 but there will be a parade.

It began in 1924 and has been cancelled only three times - in 1942, 1943 and 1944 due to helium shortages during World War II.

At my house, it will be turkey and dressing on the table and after Thanksgiving Day Mass at church, we'll tune in to the Macy's parade. Our dinner will be small - just my three children and me but Thanksgiving will be a day of old and new memories, a time to gather and to be thankful - even in 2020.

-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the editor of the Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author and freelance writer.