Before Macy’s Herald Square holiday windows could be unveiled on Thursday evening, the preshow featuring elves milling around beneath the store’s marquee, and characters on stilts, including an Italian chef, traversing the pavement with giant steps, had to run its course.
Finally, amid the chaos, the soothing voice of Mrs. Claus could be heard. “I wouldn’t be Mrs. Claus if I didn’t add some spectacle to this,” she said. On cue, sparklers erupted from the windows of the flagship’s upper floors. A few seconds later, a flurry of paper descended on the crowd — a ticker tape snowstorm.
The “The Perfect Gift Brings People Together” windows depict Christmas traditions, with animal stand-ins for the modern nuclear family. Skyscrapers, balconies, thoroughfares and other signifiers of city living are evident. The first scene is populated by a mother and father bear and their progeny, who’ve taken up residence inside a water tower at the top of a Manhattan high-rise.
A rotating Central Park features Santa skating with penguins, under the watchful eye of an eagle. In the next scene, the big guy’s sled bobs between New York City rooftops, where families of mice whoop it up on balconies. A viewfinder on the outside of the window allows shoppers to get a closer look of the action.
A window captioned, “Mice who play when the cat’s away,” depicts the opera, where a fat feline’s outsize ballgown skirt is partially lifted to reveal a company of performing mice. Santa leads an orchestra of percussion- and wind-instrument-playing polar bears.
Roya Sullivan, Macy’s national windows director, said the theme was set in motion by thoughts about holiday traditions such as decorating the Christmas tree, ice skating and seeing a Broadway show. Of course, all roads eventually lead to Herald Square. “The hustle and bustle of the city brings you to Macy’s,” she said. “I focused on the City of New York. I grew up here. I wanted a scene with Santa circling skyscrapers in his sleigh.”
A window inspired by the East River and Roosevelt Island tram, leads to the final installation, a dollhouse designed to look like the facade of Macy’s flagship, which opens and closes, revealing the inside of the store and all its contents. Shopping, for Sullivan, is an all-together activity. “The season is all about the time you spend together,” she said.