It’s a crisp Saturday morning in November when hundreds of red-hooded volunteers sip hot chocolate to ease the cold. A steady hiss of pumping helium hums in the background of this Meadowlands parking lot in north New Jersey, as deflated plastic slowly swells, growing to multiple stories high and finally taking shape as familiar friends: Sonic the Hedgehog, the Aflacduck, and Paul Frank’s Julius monkey.
A petite woman in jeans and a pullover fleece climbs a ladder and brandishes a megaphone. She reminds those gathered that the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade signals to America that it’s time for Christmas. Soon the red army files around the giant balloons—brand new to the parade—to fly them for the first time, in a practice run before the big day. Methodically, the behemoths are hoisted into the cool air, tethered by a system of wires. The woman, the leader, is looking up into the sun smiling. This is her show.
This Thursday marks the 85th anniversary of the parade, a national tradition made immortal by Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street. It’s been broadcast live on NBC from 9 a.m. to noon since 1948, providing unrivaled brand and publicity value for the department store. This is also the first year with Amy Kule at the helm. She is just the seventh person to hold the reins as executive producer. Read the complete ForbesWoman article.