Thinking about heading out to the Thanksgiving Day Parade this year? Don’t. Trust us on this one. Ass-bitingly cold temperatures are not made warmer by standing still in a crowd four tourists deep. Sleep in, eat pancakes, watch it on TV, be a winner. Instead, we find it much more pleasant to browse the Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation this evening. It provides a closer look at your favorite cartoon characters, some of which have been parade staples for decades, and a better vantage point from which to gauge their mammoth size. Not to mention that the sight of an awkward, half-inflated Smurf or Snoopy lying in the middle of 79th Street is absurd, hilarious, a little sad, and somehow indicative of everything precious about America, in a heartwarming David Foster Wallace-essay sort of way. The helium starts pumping at 3 p.m., but later in the evening the balloons fill up and the crowds thin out, upping the whimsy factor significantly.

Wed., Nov. 26, 3 p.m., 2014