1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
One of the city’s most beloved traditions draws 3.5 million in-person spectators and more than 50 million TV viewers every year. The two-and-a-half-mile parade runs from the Upper West Side to Herald Square, and features more than 10,000 marching-band members, cheerleaders, balloon handlers, and other participants. The 2007 parade introduced a Shrek balloon and included musical performances from Good Charlotte, Dolly Parton, and Ne-Yo.
2. New Year’s Eve in Times Square
One of the city’s most popular—and populated—events got a makeover for its 100th birthday in 2007. The New Year’s Eve Ball that ushered in 2008 in Times Square was twice as bright as the old one, with new crystal and lighting designs. The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment produce the one-million-person party.
3. St. Patrick’s Day Parade
More than 150,000 marchers and nearly three million spectators make this March parade one of New York’s largest annual events. Recent grand marshals for the Fifth Avenue extravaganza have included former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn and Yonkers Raceway owner Timothy Rooney. The parade marks its 247th year in 2008.
4. National Puerto Rican Day Parade
One of the nation’s biggest cultural events, the parade up Fifth Avenue draws high-profile celebrities, such as last year’s “King of the Parade,” Ricky Martin. The event is only getting more popular: Last year’s 50th anniversary event drew a crowd of almost three million. The 2008 parade is scheduled for June 8.
5. West Indian American Day Carnival
America’s biggest street fair celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007. The five-day festival fills the streets of Flatbush in Brooklyn with Caribbean music, costumes, and food over Labor Day weekend. The Mardi Gras-like festival culminates with the parade, expected to draw two million spectators on September 1 this year. West Indian American Day Carnival Association president Yolanda Lezama-Clark organizes the event.
6. Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting
Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The Tishman Speyer-produced event was broadcast live on NBC, and was re-created simultaneously in the virtual world of Second Life. Several million tourists and locals visit the site between the lighting and the tree’s removal shortly after New Year’s.
7. Village Halloween Parade
As the largest public Halloween event in the nation, this holiday parade and street pageant draws more than two million spectators to Greenwich Village every year. The 2007 parade included hundreds of puppets and 53 musical groups as part of the “Wings of Desire” theme. Parade veteran Jeanne Fleming produces the event.
8. Gay Pride Parade
Organizers expect almost one million spectators to come out for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride March on June 29. The parade runs from Fifth Avenue in Midtown to Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. The event is produced by nonprofit organization Heritage of Pride and march director Arthur Finn.
9. EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women
This fund-raiser for women's cancers, founded by Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, is one of the largest 5K events in the U.S., and has raised almost $45 million since its inception 11 years ago. The 2008 run/walk will be held on May 3 and is expected to draw almost 50,000 participants.