My wife Kylie and I are walking in front of Santa Claus and his reindeer, waving to the crowd and to everyone in America via the news cameras surrounding us. We’re laughing to ourselves that we’re two Jews in Santa’s entourage. We didn’t intend for this to happen when we broke into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but here we were.
That morning, Thursday, November 28, 2013, Kylie and I woke up later than usual to go to the parade. It was my ritual ever since I was a kid to get up early, grab some hot cocoas and head into the city to see the balloons. But this time, the alarm didn’t go off. By the time we got into Manhattan, the subway wasn’t stopping near the parade. There was no other transportation available. It seemed impossible to get to it. We were going to miss the parade.
I couldn’t let that happen. In my 31 years, I had only missed two parades – one when I was in Israel, and one when I was just born. I was determined to get us in so we could at least catch the end of the celebrations.
When we finally got out of the subway on the Upper West Side, we saw that the police had barricaded off a block alongside the parade and were only letting residents through. One swanky-looking older couple said they lived on that block.
“We live on this block too!” I yelled, as Kylie and I strode past the police. I figured if I were a rich person living on Central Park West, I would have a sense of entitlement to blow past the officer to get to my house.
Once I saw where we were – the end of the parade – it hit me. We could either cross the street or take a quick turn when no one was looking, and enter the parade. We chose the latter.
Kylie and I marched in front of Santa and made it onto all the big news channels. I imagined the anchor saying something like, “And here comes Santa Claus being led by… um… some couple I guess?”
After 20 blocks of marching, we were getting pretty tired, so we decided to start taking pictures to document this moment before it was too late. But then, one of Santa’s toy soldiers saw what we were doing and stomped towards us. “Hey, you’re not supposed to be in the parade!” he exclaimed.
I improvised: “What are you talking about? Yes we are! Keep marching. You’re slowing down the parade.”
The toy soldier said “sorry,” went back into line, thought about it for a minute and then returned.
“Then where are your badges?” he asked.
“Uhhh… in our hotel?” I said.
“Officer!” he yelled, waving to a police officer. “These people are not authorized to be here!”
The officer chewed us out.
“What the hell are you doing here? Why are you in the damn parade?”
“Uhhh,” I said, “I think a clown pulled us in.”
Whenever you’re in doubt, always blame a clown.
(Whenever you’re in doubt, always blame a clown).
I don’t know where this came from, but as the cop was pulling us out of the parade, I said to her: “Officer, we’ll leave on one condition. You take a picture of us so we can prove we were in the parade.”
Somehow, it actually worked. I guess the spirit of the holiday moved her, and she took the picture. Then, she let us go.
That’s the great thing about Thanksgiving. It’s a real unifying force in an increasingly divided country. No matter what your background, class, race or religion, it’s likely that you and your family are going to sit around a turkey and thank God for this great country we all enjoy together once a year.
We’re not a perfect country, and we’ve got a long way to go. But as long as we’re still the kind of place where a guy can break into his favorite parade, march 20 blocks and publish a comic book about the experience, then it’s still somewhere that I say is worth living in.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Have a piece of kosher turkey for me and check out the Thanksgiving issue of my autobiographical comic book series, Fair Enough, available for purchase on FairEnoughComic.com.
Daniel Lobell is a comedian and podcaster living in Los Angeles. He is the author of the Fair Enough comic book series and hosts the Doctorpedia podcast.