A handful of people lingered around Andy’s Deli’s counter on 80th Street and Columbus Avenue, ordering bagels and coffee or shopping for last-minute holiday supplies as Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade rolled by nearby .
Nick Spathis and his team took control and made purchases from police officers and parade volunteers. The locals flocked. Across the street, Columbus Avenue was packed.
Last year Andy’s was closed, the first time Mr. Spathis, who has owned the business in 33 years, was not open for Thanksgiving. And while this year Mr. Spathis opened at 5 a.m., the morning has been quiet.
“It’s not surprising to me,” he said, after handing the wranglers coffees for the Pillsbury Doughboy ball. “With the pandemic, everything is slow.”
“It’s progressing little by little,” he added later. “It could take another year.
Businesses and entrepreneurs along Columbus Avenue, parallel to the parade route along Central Park West, have had mixed reactions as to whether the return of the parade and foot traffic has provided an economic boost. For some, the morning yawned no differently from other mornings. For others, its return has brought a significant volume of customers.
A few blocks away, Mast Market, which opened a week ago, experienced its first lull in the morning around 9:30 am. The store normally opened half an hour earlier than usual.
“There were enough people lined up outside to watch,” said Robin Mates, market manager. “It went on and on.”
Banca Grucan stood on Columbus, screaming as she peddled balloons, including a Buzz Lightyear.
Originally from Ecuador, Ms. Grucan has been selling her wares on Thanksgiving morning for 12 years. She had barely sold 20 balloons by 10 a.m., she said in Spanish, less than half of what she sold in previous years.
For the past 40 years, Thomas Johnson has traveled across Connecticut selling turkey hats on Thanksgiving. Last year was the first time he did not make the annual pilgrimage. “It was depressing,” said Mr Johnson, 62.
On Thursday, Mr Johnson was all smiles as he stood on the corner of 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
“Turkey hats,” he shouted, engulfing like a turkey with his iconic headgear.
A satisfied customer called out to him in the street: “My engulfing friend, you made me look good on Facebook – thank you very much!”
Business was so booming that he could barely keep up with demand. By early morning he had sold a hundred hats and was ordering more from a supplier.
“I like it I like it!” Mr Johnson said, holding turkey hats and raising his hands in the air. The people and the costumes bring him joy, he said. He posed for at least one photo with clients.
“If my friends could see me now, they would laugh,” he later added, claiming he is a teacher. “I wear a suit and tie normally.”