Watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade From Abroad

NOTE: Please see Watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2010 From Abroad for the latest info.

Another Thanksgiving away from home (ie, the US), another Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that I can’t watch on TV here in the UK. Three years ago, I missed the tradition so much that I took the family to New York so that we could watch it live from a hotel along the parade route. Well, this year’s looking a bit up. Earthcam has a live webcam of the parade route here, along with streaming video here.

Someday the television networks (I’m talking to you today, NBC) will wake up to the fact that there are more Americans living abroad than within some US states. There’s got to be some money to be made off of us by offering a simulcast of what NBC will broadcast today. More about the parade can be found on the official Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade site. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Postscript: Now that the parade has happened, I thought it would be interesting to post how it went as a webcast viewer.

First, I loaded up the stream on the family computer in our kitchen and was thrilled to see the first marching band come past. But then I realized I could probably do better by hooking up a computer to our TV.

We have an LCD TV that can take a computer video feed. So I plunked the laptop down on the floor, hooked a video cable to the TV, ran a long network cable to the computer from the router to ensure there would be no problems with our internal wireless (which can be spotty for bandwidth) and fired up the feed.

Once the video had started in the tiny window Earthcam shows, I right clicked in the window and found the actual URL. I copied and pasted that into Windows Media Player, and now I had it going in a larger window.

Next, I set Windows Media Player to show full screen, and there it was — after years of wishing, the parade live on my TV in the UK:

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Webcast

Blown up that large, the quality wasn’t so good. It didn’t help that the camera lens itself was covered with raindrops, blurring some of the picture:

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Webcast

Here’s SpongeBob. Honest, it’s him:

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Webcast

The kids were thrilled when the big balloons came by and you could sort of make them out. But they easily lost interest when there would be big pauses when the feed flat out stopped. That could be our poor broadband, which barely hits 1MB. But it could have been issues at the other end.

Overall, big thanks to Earthcam for making this happen. But to make it better, perhaps someone actually needs to monitor what was going out. Clean the camera lens! Someone was clearly running it, since it would occasionally zoom and move. And one last tip. When Santa comes at the end — zoom in on him, not suddenly swing to the ambulances and emergency vehicles behind!

Postscript: Please see Watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2010 From Abroad for the latest info.