Green Parades & Dancing on Broadway - Literally!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Through the Years,  Newsday  (Credit: Stan Wolfson)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Through the Years, Newsday (Credit: Stan Wolfson)

1977 New York City

I arrived in Manhattan in what seemed to be an out of control taxi cab from JFK Airport on what seemed to me an out of control day ... St. Patrick's.  Back then, cabs were those big boxy roomie jobs with hanging wrist straps, no doubt placed there by someone who knew how cabbies approached driving in the city: white-knuckle all the way!

Parades!  What a curious past time in this town!  Imagine a green wide-eyed California-born-Florida-raised teenager's first blush with The Big Apple while crushing through that madness! Drunken staggering walking dead types banging on the cab windows ... a sea of debauchery.  I was terrified!

And my apartment?  A shared studio 5th floor walk up with a window view of another building's bricks in Yorkville on the East Side.  Oh the things we endure when we dream of making it big as a dancer on Broadway.

My first job?  Customer Service agent at Macy's 34th Street Herald Square flagship store.  The gig was ranked above a sales position.  I guess I did well on the test.  Fifteen of us started the day by familiarizing ourselves with ALL of the sales circulars for stores across the nation.  Adorned with audio-microphone headsets, we heard it all from missed deliveries to "Can I bring my dog in the store?"  Four "air" keys controlled our patch calls to departments.  It seems antiquated thinking about the technology now, but we had such responsibility at the flick of a switch!  Most of the team were older former sales floor employees, except for myself and Verna S.  Is it ethical to actually use someone's last name in blog?  I don't know.  We sat across from one another until the supervisor separated us for talking and giggling.

Macy's employees were "invited" to join the Parade ... rollerskating clowns, float walkers, crowd control ... you name it.  I'm fairly sure we were paid; I can't recall.  But I knew the Parade was broadcast on TV and this was HUGE for a dancer dreaming of fame!

1977 promos for NBC's Thanksgiving Day programming, as well as Jane Pauley previewing the following morning's "Today" show.

Imagine my surprise when I was costumed in a thin silver jumpsuit and assigned to the Neil Sedaka giant jukebox float as a side walker?  The float also had several very cute deejays on it ... who later got me "invited" to Macy's Executive after-party ... I rode the elevator to the execute floor with Thelma Huston (Don't Leave Me This Way)!  Huge!  I actually made out with one of those cute deejays (the 2nd man I'd ever kissed), who'd also worked for radio's WRBQ on Q Morning Zoo, a show I used to listen to in Florida!  Now that I've outed myself here, it's also with full disclosure that I say the cobwebs are thick ... I'm almost certain it was DJ Dave Saint.

I did spend some time researching for this post!  And WOW!  One link took me to an account of the 1977 Parade ... "With the fabulous Bugs Bunny follies, Warner Brothers cartoon characters joined the line of the march."  

FACT:  I became Bugs Bunny in the Follies the next year!  That's how I got my Actor's Equity card.  


But back to the Parade.

It was freezing, so to stay warm, I'd begun an interpretive dance to Neil's Laughter in the Rain around 79th St. on CPW.  I know it may have looked strange to be the only one dancing instead of walking, but I was in my own little world and seizing the opportunity.  By the time we actually hit Broadway near the store, I'd overcome my nerves and perfected my moves for the camera!  My mother and brother saw me wave on TV!  

Oh, to find that footage!


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