Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A look behind
the scenes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from an LP operational
perspective. Giving you a look at the complexity of coordinating large-scale
national events with law enforcement and the measures taken by LP to protect the
The 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place on Thursday, November
26th 2015 at 9:00 am in New York City. It is estimated that upwards of 3 million
viewers lined the parade route from the starting point at 77th Street down to
its final destination at the Macy's Flagship Herald Square store at 34th Street.
In addition, the audience on NBC's nationwide broadcast allowed another 50
million people to make the parade part of their Thanksgiving tradition.
The planning process begins in May. There are four distinct operations;
rehearsal, balloon inflation, parade and dismantling/deflation. They are spread
over four days. As the safety of attendees is of paramount importance, meetings
are held with NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority Police, FBI and DHS to identify
potential threats and develop contingency plans.
Today's planning involves open dialogue between Larry Sechuk, VP Special
Operations - Macy's AP, and his team Dave Dagney, Director National Events and
Walter Avelin, Manager of Law Enforcement Outreach with the FBI and NYPD. This
year in particular, the frequency and urgency of communications was important.
Any changes to the normal operation and protocols that were put in place had to
be transparent to the viewing public and be seamlessly incorporated into the
execution of the parade.
The Asset Protection team must also coordinate crowd control and protection for
talent during rehearsals at Herald Square over two nights before the actual
parade. One of the busiest crosstown streets, 34th Street, is closed each night
to allow performers and the camera crews to coordinate timing and ensure that
the marks are hit.
The Balloon Inflation takes place on Wednesday at 3pm on the Upper West Side
with balloons on 77th and 81st Streets from Central Park West to Columbus Ave.
This has become a major event as well. It draws tens of thousands of onlookers
who want to get a sneak peek at the balloons. At 10:00 pm the process of
clearing the inflation viewing audience from the perimeter around the Museum of
Natural History begins. Once this is accomplished Central Park West must be made
ready to stage the float convoy. This year 27 floats with a contingent of
additional vehicles were part of the parade. The convoy is escorted by Macy's
AP, Carlstadt Police, NJ State Police, Port Authority Police and NYPD. There is
a temporary closure to traffic on the way into and through the Lincoln Tunnel to
allow all elements to pass through. They must then travel about 45 blocks
through some of Midtown Manhattan's busiest streets to get to their destination.
During the overnight hours Macy's AP must prepare access routes for guests who
have tickets to the grandstands. They must also maintain a secure perimeter from
67th Street to 86th Street to keep unauthorized personnel out of the staging
areas. At the same time a separate AP operation seals off 34th Street outside
the Herald Square store to allow construction of the grandstands.
Thanksgiving morning presents its own set of challenges.
|● Macy's grandstands uptown and
downtown allow over 17,000 ticketed guests to view the parade from
some of the best viewing locations along the route. Macy's AP
partners with the Stapleton Security and their Air Scenting K-9 dogs
to screen all guests prior to reaching the stands.
|● Thousands of volunteers who march
in the parade must be brought to secure locations to be costumed and
then brought to the start line at Central Park West.
|● A separate operation for the 350
children who ride the floats must be staffed and managed by the AP
|● A 'frozen zone' from 34th Street
to 39th Street and from Broadway to 8th Avenue must be created and
maintained to facilitate the dismantling of floats and deflation of
|● All celebrities who ride the
floats must be escorted at all times during the parade.
After months of preparation and planning it is finally time for a parade! Over
50 Macy Asset Protection executives team up with the FBI's JTTF, FDNY's Hazmat
and Rescue units and thousands of New York's finest which include ESU/Counter
Terrorism units to ensure that the parade goes according to plan without
incident and that Santa arrives at Herald Square promptly at 12 noon.
In addition to the parade in NYC Sechuk and his team are also involved with the
planning and safeguards at Macy's events nationwide during Thanksgiving week.
These include; 2 additional parades, 5 tree lightings and 6 window unveilings.
Sechuk also takes the opportunity to 'Give Back' during the month of December.
He organizes Macy's support to the Chicago Police Foundation's 'Operation
Santa'. On the last weekend before Christmas CPD / USSS and other law
enforcement organizations visit the homes of injured and fallen Chicago Police
Officers. Their children are given gifts from Santa who personally delivers each
In New York City he has been a fixture at the Ronald McDonald House Christmas
Party. This was originally started by the NYPD 19th Precinct. Macy's provides
the one and only 'real' Santa and Sechuk serves cookies and cupcakes to the
children. He also accompanies Santa to the 9th Precinct's Christmas Party. This
is held in a school yard across from the precinct house. Local residents begin
lining up as early as 6:00 am to meet Santa and get a special gift.
Once all of these holiday activities have concluded it is time to plan for the
Thank you to Larry Sechuk, VP Asset Protection, Special Operations and
Governmental Affairs, Macy's, for submitting the article and pictures above!