The day before the parade, workers begin inflating the giant balloons, which are such a big part of the parade's appeal. Part of the parade route is closed off early to allow space for all seventeen towering figures to be inflated, and spectators are allowed to stop by and watch.
The public entrance to the inflation event is at 74th Street and Columbus Ave, where all spectators must pass a security screening. After that, spectators can head to either 77th Street or 81st Street, where the balloons are being inflated.
The site at 77th Street features Ice Age's Scrat, Ronald McDonald, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hello Kitty, the red Power Ranger, Pikachu, DreamWorks' Trolls, Charlie Brown, as well as Jett from Super Wings and Olaf from Disney's Frozen — both of which are new this year.
81st Street features the Angry Birds balloon, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pillsbury Doughboy, Sinclair's DINO, The Elf on the Shelf, and newcomers — the Aflac Duck Balloonicle, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, and PAW Patrol.
For New Yorkers, the inflation event is the beginning of serious traffic restrictions, which will last all the way through the parade. Those spending the holiday in the city should check traffic announcements on local news outlets, but in general this is a good time to avoid traveling by car in the Upper West Side.