By Terry Trucco
Thanksgiving 2012 may seem a long way off, but for those who plan ahead, like parade organizers, it might as well be next week. Last week Macy’s long-term planners dropped a bombshell – due to construction to the pedestrian plazas throughout Times Square, the parade will be rerouted down Sixth Avenue for 2012 and 2013, bypassing a patch of New York as famous as the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty combined.
Count behemoths like the Marriott Marquis, Renaissance Times Square, Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square, W Times Square, Michelangelo and Park Central among the miffed. Parade watchers may be among them. Times Square’s more than 7,000 hotel rooms – many overlooking the parade – dwarf by half the offerings along Sixth Avenue, so fewer rooms with parade views will be available.
Not surprisingly, the Times Square business community isn’t happy. Thanksgiving Day weekend, book-ended by the parade and the start of the holiday shopping season, is pumpkin pie a la mode for parade-route hotels, which hike up prices, offer multiple night minimum stays and routinely sell out. The sight of Snoopy, Spider-man and Santa Claus parading through Times Square provides priceless publicity for Broadway theaters and businesses. “It’s like a postcard of New York,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told Crains. Alliance members worry the parade is gone for good.
They may be right. Macy’s has lobbied for a Sixth Avenue parade route for years. The department store maintains wide, straight- arrow Sixth Avenue affords the safest route for those hulking balloons and floats. Smart marketing, too. With splashy Times Square out of the picture, the attention focuses on Macy’s home base, Herald Square.
Don’t think Times Square hotels, theaters and businesses will turn into stuffed turkeys and surrender their parade turf without a fight. A Marriott vice-president told the Daily News the company expects to lose $2 to $3 million. Still, expect 2011 to be the last time Snoopy & Co. float down Seventh Avenue, at least for a while.