Monday, December 17, 2012

Macy's Parade Balloons

Terry and I went up to New York City over the Thanksgiving break. A distant cousin, Nini Thorspecken, was visiting America from Weisbadden Germany. Nini is just 17 years old so we wanted to give her an authentic taste of the Big Apple. My sister Carol Martindale came down from upstate New York and we all stayed on Staten Island. The ferry ride across the harbor to the city was gorgeous, going right past the Statue of Liberty. Carol had passes to get into the 9/11 Memorial, so that was our first stop. The memorial is amazing, with two huge square holes where the towers once stood. Water cascaded down into the wells like Niagara Falls and then the water leveled off before dropping into a smaller deeper well. Names of everyone who perished that day were etched in steel along the outer perimeter. It is an amazing sight and I plan to return someday to sketch.

We all took the subway to the Upper West Side to see the Macy's balloons being blown up on 77th street next to the Museum of Natural History. When I lived in the city, this was an annual sketch ritual. I would stay up all night sketching and then watch as the crews allowed the giants to lift up into the breeze. There was always some balloon that would blow over into a light post, popping a limb. This year the crowds were astonishing. There was a line that branched off for two solid blocks and then wrapped back to where I was standing to sketch. The traffic cop standing in front of me tended to ignore all the pleas from suburban moms who wanted to know how to get in. Occasionally he would point but he never spoke.  Terry went to visit an old friend named Kent Brasloff so I decided I had time to do this one sketch. Carol and Nini decided to go get dinner and they would meet me back here when they were done.

The only balloons I could identify were an Aflac Duck, a Koolaid Pitcher and some Anime dragon. By the time I finished the sketch, the line had backed up to the point where I was in the crush of the crowd. I hadn't noticed since I was so focused on the strange nocturnal scene. When Carol and Nini came back, I was done. We texted Terry to let her know we were heading back down to the Battery to catch the ferry back to Staten Island. When we got off the subway, Terry called out to us as we were walking up the subway steps. She must have been in the next car.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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