Macy's Herald Square Holiday Windows Get the Broadway Treatment

By: Nov. 10, 2010
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Macy's Herald Square as America's Largest Department Store prepares to unveil its legendary Christmas windows on Thursday, November 18 at 5pm. This year, spectators will be taken on a magical journey through the eyes of 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon who wrote to the New York Sun in 1897 in a quest to prove the existence of Santa Claus.   The response, written by newsman Francis P. Church, began with the now-famous line, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus..." and is viewed by those who believe as a symbol of the generosity and spirit of the season.  In celebration of this spirit, this season's Christmas windows are more animated and theatrical than ever, as Macy's brings the magic of the Broadway stage to its world famous Broadway windows in its collaboration with PRG Scenic Technologies.  Virginia's inspiring true story, now a CBS animated TV Christmas special, "Yes, Virginia...," magically comes to life via animation and automation.

Visitors to this year's Christmas windows may have already experienced the dazzling and innovative designs of PRG Scenic Technologies as the company is responsible for some of Broadway's most spectacular scenery and mechanical effects, including Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Spiderman, to name a few. The Macy's Christmas window "sets" are approximately ¼ of the size of a typical Broadway venue and a true cinematic effect is achieved as each window is specially timed to "raise the curtain" on the scene within. Children of all ages will be amazed as the scene changes before their eyes with specially synchronized lighting, sound, animated movements and LCD screens before the action draws to a close, signaling viewers to continue the story of "Yes, Virginia...," at the next window.  

Created by award-winning designer Paul Olszewski (Ten-time winner of VM+SD InternationalAwards - Including Best In Show, five-time recipient of DDI Magazine's Platinum and Gold Awards,  twice named Leading Industry Influencer in DDI portfolio Awards), Macy's 2010 Christmas windows combines modern technology with traditional artistic technique.  According to Olszewski, "This year, Macy's has partnered with PRG Scenic Technologies, a production design company, as well as a separate design team, SparkGroup, to create a unique and spectacular window display that I don't believe has ever been done before.  Almost every detail within each window is made from paper, cut both by laser and by hand, and has been layered and manipulated to give a beautiful and unique quality.  Even the ornate animations created for the LCD screens, such as flying birds, fireplaces, and people decorating trees, are created from paper using this special technique. It is this combination of artistry and technology that is going to make this year's windows so special."

Following is a brief description of how each window tells the story of Virginia O'Hanlon's quest to prove that Santa Claus does indeed exist!

Window 1
At the very top of her house, little Virginia and her pal Ollie delight in a
magical book about Santa Claus. Perplexed, Virginia ponders the eternal
question of children everywhere: is Santa real? As she plays upstairs,
downstairs her mama and papa drink coffee and read the paper. It's their
turn to ponder - a newspaper headline! Can it be real? "If you see it in the
Sun, it's so," says Papa, as he's said so often before.

Window 2
Virginia and her friends gather in a nearby courtyard. They admire her
Santa book, happily recalling what Santa brought at Christmases past.
"Grow up," sneers Charlotte, an older girl with a worldly air. "You can't
prove he's real. Face it, Virginia. There is no Santa." The children's belief
dwindles at these harsh words, but Virginia has something else in mind.

Window 3
To the library the friends go for proof Santa exists. With the help of the
kindly librarian, they discover that, whether called Father Christmas, Cinter
Klas, Bellsnickle, Kris Kringle or just plain Chimney John, Santa is beloved
the world over. And yet... still no proof. Poor Virginia! "But," asks the
librarian, "if he doesn't exist, why do children everywhere believe in him?"
Why indeed?

Window 4
Maybe Papa knows! His logic isn't convincing, but the newspaper on his
desk reminds Virginia of his oft-repeated words: "If it's in The Sun, it's so."
That's when Virginia writes the letter that's become nearly as famous as
Santa. And she waits...and waits...for a response. Worried for her little girl,
her mother says, "Believing in Santa isn't something you prove. It's
something you do. When you're kind to others, that's all the proof you
need." Virginia ponders. Could it be true?

Window 5
Still pondering, Virginia encounters a scraggly, shivering "Santa" collecting coins for charity.
The poor soul gave away his coat to someone in need!
Recalling her mother's words about being kind to others
("That makes Santa real. . ."), Virginia returns with a new, warm and cozy red overcoat.
Deeply touched, the grateful man tells Virginia, "Today, YOU'RE Santa Claus!"
Meanwhile at THE SUN, the editor contemplates little Virginia's letter.
How to respond?

Window 6
Finally, the proof is printed in black and white, to be read all over!
"Yes, Virginia," proclaims THE SUN. "There is a Santa Claus.
He exists as certainly as love, generosity and devotion exist."
A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from
now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
All is well and joyous in the world, and belief reaches higher
and deeper and wider than ever before! But wait.
Who is that portly, bearded gent in red, with a twinkle in his eye?
Can it be?
Yes, Virginia. . .

In addition to the six Broadway windows, Macy's will also be making holiday magic in each of the remaining 33 windows around the of the store.  The 34th Street Windows will feature scenes from the holiday classic "Miracle on 34th Street," as well as scenes from the new Broadway musical ELF.  The Christmas windows at Macy's Herald Square will be on display through January 3, 2011.  

Macy's has been amazing spectators with its famed Christmas window displays since the early 1870's.  As the first department store to feature Christmas windows, Macy's continues to celebrate the season and encourages people from all corners of the world to Believe.

PRG serves a range of markets, including concert touring, corporate events, trade shows, special events, theatre, television and film. Our company is uniquely qualified to provide the resources and services customers need at any and all sites, efficiently and cost effectively. Our staff offers years of experience serving the specialized needs of each of our markets. For a given market, we can provide a single discipline, such as lighting, audio or video, or we can bundle disciplines for an integrated solution that meets the needs of the entire project.

The world's leading supplier of entertainment and event technology, PRG currently operates from 31 locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Our facilities include over 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space that house our state-of-the-art inventory of audio, video, lighting, rigging, scenery and automation equipment.

SPARK GROUP is a Design and Production firm specializing in Live Production and Events. We offer a highly collaborative approach when working with our clients. Our objective is to identify their individual goals, needs and visions and implement them with creativity, perfection and a close attention to detail. As an agency we stress distinctiveness thus our work is custom for each client. Every SPARK GROUP project is unique as we focus on recognizing our client's desire for individuality. When working with SPARK GROUP, there are no limits just 'Creative Sparks.'

Macy's, the largest retail brand of Macy's, Inc., delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at more than 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Macy's stores and offer distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home. Macy's is known for such epic events as Macy's 4th of July Fireworks® and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade®, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances. Building on a 150-year tradition, Macy's helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities that make a difference in the lives of our customers.