A Conversation with Jean McFaddin
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A Conversation with Jean McFaddin

For twenty-five years, Jean McFaddin was responsible for creating Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and annual major events to maximize its sales and brand success. She resigned from her full-time Macy’s role in spring 2001, to pursue broader opportunities in the new millennium, while continuing to serve Macy’s in an advisory capacity for the 75th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As Macy’s East Senior Vice President in charge of Macy’s public relations and events from 1977-200l, she annually produced Macy’s award-winning Thanksgiving Day Parade; a glorious Spring Flower Show; America’s largest on-going 4th of July Fireworks Celebration; the world-record-breaking “Tap-O-Mania” that assembles over 6,000 dancers in a choreographed routine; and for Christmas, staged the Miracle on 34th Street where over 300,000 children and adults visit Macy’s Santa Land each year.

Ms. McFaddin represented Macy’s on numerous civic and industry councils which included the Mayor’s Host Committee for the UN 50th Anniversary and NYC 2000 Millennium Committee. In serving the community on Macy’s behalf, she has produced more than one hundred benefit galas and fund raising events. These events raised millions of dollars for community organizations, affirming Macy’s message, “We’re a part of your life”.

During her twenty five years of leadership, Ms. McFaddin developed the Macy’s Parade and other annual events into multi-dimensional spectaculars that attracted worldwide tourists and positive media attention to Macy’s and New York City. She worked closely with the licensing and entertainment industries, including Broadway, to create dynamic partnerships that ensured fiscal stability while elevating these traditional events to state-of-the-art entertainment that serve as benchmarks for the industry. Ms. McFaddin received over a dozen Emmy Awards for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades in partnership with NBC with whom, on behalf of Macy’s, she was responsible for network negotiations and telecast planning for 24 years. This included her development of the annual nationwide telecast of Macy’s July 4th Spectacular fireworks through NBC network. In addition to achieving a dynamic entertainment event stylized for television, Ms. McFaddin pioneered advanced design standards and computer firing technology for fireworks in association with America’s pyrotechnic companies.

In November, 2000, to celebrate her 24th Anniversary as Producer/Director of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the City of New York renamed the famous corner of Broadway and 34th Streets “Jean McFaddin Way” for the month of December.

In spring 2001, Ms. McFaddin retired from her full time Macy’s role to pursue new directions and challenges. In her honor, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani held a press conference at City Hall on April 19th to proclaim it “Jean McFaddin Day in the City of New York.”

Ms. McFaddin enjoys ongoing success as an entertaining, informative speaker in the events industry and at international universities, as well as serving as a consultant to event organizations and corporations. She is honored to be celebrated in the leading “Halls of Fame” within the events industry, including IFEA, Events Solutions, ISES, and Bizbash.  Ms. McFaddin is recognized in numerous publications for her success in staging giant scale events, including David Rockwell’s book, ”Spectacle” and is featured in the History Channel’s documentary “Inside Macy’s Parade.”

Join a fascinating discussion with Jean as she shares the story of how she re-built the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from a “sad” event to the spectacular and iconic parade that nearly 50 million people watch each year. Listen also as she talks about other, complimentary “events within the event.” These are so important and enjoyable while building on and contributing to the success of a “Main Event.” As Jean can attest, they sometimes become iconic on their own! 


Key Moments:


3:40 – Discover Jean’s overall philosophy for approaching a project, to steer it towards success.

11:38 – Learn why the then-chairman of Macy’s wanted to revitalize the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the mid-1970’s, and why he believed it was so important to the future success of Macy’s as a company.

16:13 – Listen how a new leader of a floundering event can turn things around.

21:40 – Learn tips for event managers to be business managers so their events can be financially self-sustaining.

24:55 – A critical key to success is maintaining the balance between keeping things fresh and relevant while retaining familiar favorites that people look forward to year after year.

32:20 – Discover how “Tap-O-Mania” came to be as famous as the Parade itself! 

The Amplifier is brought to you by Saffire in cooperation with IAFE, IFEA, IAVM and WFA. For more information or feedback, please contact info@saffire.com.
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