Travel through Venice on a gondola.
Ride a zip line through a tropical rainforest.
Attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Swim with a dolphin.
Watch a sunrise.
Meet someone famous.
Isn’t it one of the most satisfying feelings when you are able to check off an item from your bucket list?
This Thanksgiving, Gary and I, along with his parents, were treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. As if putting on a five-star gala, contributing to a cash prize of $20,000 and awarding us $1,500 in Macy’s gift cards was not enough, Macy’s sent us on a trip that we will never forget!
Welcome to New York
The view from the airplane showed countless buildings tightly squeezed into every square inch of land, much like the crowded airplane filled with tourists eagerly awaiting their chance to experience the city’s unique attractions.
Each of us spent the entire ride to the hotel with our faces leaning toward the car’s windows as we craned our necks to take in the restaurants and sights we hoped to experience before our trip ended.
As we turned into our hotel, we saw Macy’s had worked their magic again, placing us right in the middle of Times Square at the beautiful Marriot Marquis. The sounds, lights, buildings, and people could not compare to anything we had seen on TV. It’s hard to describe in words how breathtaking it was to be in the middle of this bustling city. Even though we had five days to experience it, we immediately realized there was no way we could see everything!
Not Your Average Parade
Our top priority was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has always been a dream of mine. The line accepting tickets to sit in the grand stands spanned three blocks, wrapping down a neighborhood of brownstones. Our seats were close to the beginning of the parade, giving us a sneak peak at the balloons and floats that were making their way to Macy’s on 34th Street. I was only a section away from checking off a second item on my list: Meet a famous person. Al Roker jumped into the crowded grandstands along with Jon Seda from Chicago P.D. and the audience immediately stretched their arms up trying to take pictures of the celebrity duo. We snagged a few pictures of them as they wrapped up their interviews, along with larger-than-life balloons, fantastically synchronized bands, and the famous Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Soaking up the City
We spent the rest of our stay sightseeing and enjoying a variety of restaurants. A cruise around New York City highlighted the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Staten Island. During the day, we explored Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, 9/11 Memorial and Trump Tower. At night, we treated ourselves to much-needed date nights, eating dinner at a local Italian restaurant, enjoying views from the revolving lounge located at the top of our hotel, and attending a Broadway play, Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour.
From the ambitious Broadway hopefuls serving us breakfast at the Stardust Café to taking our first Uber ride, NYC managed to exceed our expectations every step of the way. I am so grateful for the many memorable experiences that being the 2017 Florida Teacher of the Year has afforded me, and I wish that every educator could know this feeling because they truly deserve it.