NEW YORK — Mark Schonberg, senior director for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Fourth of July Fireworks and other annual events, died at his home here Wednesday after a long bout with cancer. He was 51.
It was Schonberg’s booming commands at the parade start on the Upper West Side that would get the bands and floats going at the proper intervals, and charge up the spectators, but his presence was felt throughout the Macy’s organization. Due to his illness, he stopped working last June and in November, Macy’s Parade Committee gave him a lifetime achievement award.
“From personally overseeing the yearly selection of the finest marching bands in America to countless hours working out operational needs with the NYPD and other city agencies for the parade and fireworks, he could be counted on to communicate every detail from start to finish to ensure the finest professional performance,” said Jean McFadden, former Macy’s senior vice president and Schonberg’s partner in producing the special events. “He was greatly respected and loved by me and many others and was a legendary figure in these wonderful holiday traditions.”
“Mark was cranky, curmudgeonly, wise, wonderful and wickedly funny. His fingerprints are on everything that we do,” said Robin Hall, Macy’s group vice president of annual events.
Schonberg was also involved in preparing staff and volunteers and managing the financial and administrative systems for the annual events, store-opening celebrations, and credited for naming Macy’s big outdoor dance event. Becoming impatient during a planning meeting, he blurted: “You are all just a bunch of Tap-O-Maniacs!” The name Tap-O-Mania stuck.
He began his career at Macy’s in 1975 as a special event assistant, got steadily promoted and achieved his last post in 1997. He is survived by his mother, Barbara Schonberg Shaw. A private service will be held in Albany today. A memorial service will be held at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, 630 Amsterdam Avenue, on April 9 at 2 p.m.