Category Archives: Believe

Let’s have a parade! Macy’s announces plans for modified 2020 Thanksgiving Day parade

Yes, there will be balloons.

Though, Macy’s employees won’t be marching the balloons down the street. Specialized vehicles will be!

But the magic of a miles-long parade will be condensed into one block at the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, the company announced Monday.

The 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC — just as we’ve come to know.

“While it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose — to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation,” Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, said in a prepared statement.

Read more from The AP.

The Macy’s Parade will go on, but…

The global pandemic has put a pause on a lot of our traditions — for good reason.

Some events have figured out ways to go on — including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And organizers plan to take a page from the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show to help plan the parade.

“Everything is going to be different,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said, CNN reported.

So what could we see different this year?

“Some is going to be virtual. There might be some small in-person pieces, spread out pieces, it’s not going to look at all of course like how we are used to. But the important thing is, the traditions will be kept in some way,” de Blasio said.

Only 364 days to go…

The Christmas tree in our living room
Fills the room with pine perfume
And colored lights dancing on the walls
While Nat King Cole sings “Deck The Halls”
Don’t you get the sense tonight
That for now the world is right
And as another Christmas ends
My mind drifts and once again
I’m thinking like a six year old
Only 364 days to go

This Brad Paisley song had to work a day later due to leap year.

Enjoy the full song here.

‘Feel the Love of Christmas’ one final time

Monday night was the first last “Feel the Love of Christmas” concert at Heinz Hall. Tuesday night was the last last “Feel the Love” concert there.

For more than 20 years, B.E. Taylor lit up the holiday season with his recognizable voice, smile and positivity – selling out concerts across the tri-state region.

The beloved Aliquippa native died in August 2016. His son – B.C. Taylor – and other family members and longtime friends have celebrated his life and love of the holiday season with fans for the last three years.

But the show will come to an end Dec. 23 with a final performance where it all began – Wheeling, West Virginia.

I’ve loved B.E. Taylor’s Christmas music for as long as I can recall. I’d watch him sing at the old Horne’s/WPXI sing-along shows and the Kaufmann’s Celebrate the Season parade, as well as his performances on WQED-TV and on 94.5 3WS and Wish 99.7.

The tribute shows have served as a time to celebrate the season and to reflect on a talented man who loved his family, the season and his fans. Portions of a live recording at Heinz Hall were embedded into the show, letting B.E. Taylor’s voice shine for all to hear.

“The fact that people still want to come and celebrate, even with dad begin gone, is such a tribute to what he created and what everyone on stage created and the fact that we get to say goodbye on our terms and let this go and send everybody out feeling the love of Christmas one more time, it’s the way I wanted to do this,” B.C. Taylor told WTOV-TV.

B.C. Taylor said the family decided to end the show’s run because of the emotional toll it takes.

“It weighs on me or my family, and I just feel that it’s time to move on, but I wanted anyone that wanted to come and sing ‘Feel the Love’ or ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ or whatever, see the drumline come down, I wanted them to have the opportunity to do it one more time,” B.C. Taylor said.

When B.E. Taylor released his first Christmas album in 1994, he had already been a solidified musician, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1984 with “Vitamin L,” which was written by fellow bandmate and friend Rick Witkowski.

In a 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary story, bandmate Hermie Granati talked about who B.E. Taylor was as a person and not a musician.

“All the superlatives have been said about his musicianship, but the guy that we knew, when he talked to you, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room,” Granati said. “Very at ease and very comfortable being himself. There was a light emanating from Bill, and he pulled everyone into that light. He wore his faith on his sleeve and he lived it.”

At the time of B.E. Taylor’s death, WDVE’s morning show host said he was “the kind of person that you strive to be. He was kind, he was thoughtful, he was happy and full of love for his friends and family. There wasn’t an ounce of pretense to B.E.”

The final performances for the show are Dec. 21 in Indiana and Dec. 23 in Wheeling. For ticket information, visit the concert site.

Miniature Christmas villages offer big holiday charm

Whether it’s a bird’s-eye view of a Charles Dickens’ village, a seaside New England town or Christmas in NYC, small-scale winter villages offer a big-scale holiday charm under a tree, above a cabinet, in a display case or sprawled across an entire room.

I can’t pinpoint when I first fell in love with small villages. My uncle and grandfather introduced me to trains, and while they were great, I was more into the buildings and scenery around those displays – the little people and vehicles and storefronts.

Add to this my love of “SimCity” and “Sims” video games and the perfect recipe for enjoying small-scale villages is born!

I just love the idea of creating a storyline for the village, as townspeople move about in the days leading up to the holiday.

When I was younger, we placed a farm/rural village under the tree with some old-school buildings from my uncle. I mixed in some of my MicroMachines and had one eclectic little town.

Over the years, my village matured with Lemax pieces and some others (St. Nicholas Square from Kohl’s, etc). A number of my buildings and accessories came from Kmart, which used to have a great collection each holiday season.

I recently discovered that one of my buildings is a Norman Rockwell piece that was sold at Ames (of all places). I need to do some digging to find more about the history of that line.

But the crown jewel of mini villages is Dept. 56, with its vast array of quintessential New England pieces, its “A Christmas Carol” village, its NYC village collection and, more recently, its pop culture collections (think “Elf,” “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon,” etc).

I own one Dept. 56 building – the Heinz house. (It’s a ‘Burgh thing!)

As much as I love the attention to detail on Dept. 56 pieces, it’s difficult for me to pay the prices (even second-hand prices!) of those items. They are gorgeous and I envy folks with them, but they’re not in my budget.

But I love my hodgepodge collection of mostly Lemax pieces that also offer such attention to detail on buildings and within figurines.

The centerpiece to my village under the tree is the Wegmans grocery store building. I love Wegmans, so it was an obvious move to make that the center of town – right next to the village gazebo and choir singers.

My village under the tree usually also includes the Daily Gazette building, the Wegmans Farmhouse and typically the post office or pub (though, either made an appearance this year!).

New this year is The Secret Santa Christmas Gift Shoppe, complete with Santa standing outside the shop making his list and checking it twice.

The Norman Rockwell piece offers a glimpse into the dining room of a family about to celebrate a meal together.

A second village is placed above the cabinets in the kitchen and is kept up all year to keep a little Christmas magic going! (The village also offers some very nice soft lighting.)

The village above the cabinets includes three houses that I believe are from a collection that was part of Christmas Around The World. Foley’s Pharmacy (which I think is either a Kmart or Lemax piece) and a brewery (from St. Nicholas Square at Kohl’s) round out the businesses, which are centered around a choir group and tree.

A lighthouse at the end of the display offers a New England feel, complete with a snowman in a yellow rain slicker!

I haven’t officially named the villages, but I do tend to refer to them as Christmas Village (under the tree) and Christmas Village Heights (above the cabinets) – or, simply, The Heights.

I’m unsure how many village buildings I own, but I do know that of the 11 that are placed (12, if you include the house that’s always up in my bedroom), there is a good chance my collection has about 30 buildings.

Small compared to some folks, whose collections are well into the hundreds!

I’m in several Facebook Groups related to mini villages and get to see all of the hard work people put into their displays. Some people convert entire family rooms or basements into their Christmas villages, while others are content with a few pieces on the mantel.

I’m so inspired by the people in these groups, though. This is not just a hobby for some of them, but a true passion. (And, if for nothing else, these groups offer a place where every single person commenting is pleasant – unheard of on Facebook!)

Ask any village collector if their village collection is every complete and the answer is simple: nope!

I always tell myself not to buy any new pieces, but each year that’s a struggle. I, so far, have limited myself to just one new building (The Secret Santa shop). But I’ve purchased a few more figurines and accessories than I usually do a year.

One building I need for my village is a department store. But not just any department store. I’d like a Gimbels (from the Dept. 56 “Elf” collection), a Davidson’s Department Store (from Dept. 56), Dayfield’s Department Store (from the Dept. 56 “Christmas in the City” collection) or the dont-call-it-Macy’s “Department Store” (from the Dept. 56 “Miracle on 34th Street” collection).

Of course, I’d prefer having a Kaufmann’s Department Store (preferably the current building, but the Carnegie Science Center’s addition of the previous building would do!)

A recent quote in an Erie Times-News story about a couple who collects and displays Dept. 56 pieces resonated with me.

“I have a little stool in front of the big display,” Jeff Taylor said, “and sometimes I go out there and sit on that stool and just stare at the scenes. It’s just a great place. It’s very soothing. You look at it and you can almost see the people moving.”

Erie Times-News; Dec. 1, 2019

I’ll sometimes turn off the lights to the tree and keep the village lights on just to enjoy the scenery. I added four battery-operated lighted village trees this year and sat with just those on to illuminate the village.

Amazing what giant stories the mind can create from a tiny village.

‘Believe in the wonder’ at Macy’s windows

Macy’s in Herald Square, New York City, recently unveiled its holiday season windows.

Following the theme of “Believe in the Wonder,” the windows offer neon and chrome, and even include a a window with a dog’s nose sticking out that viewers can touch!

“We are Christmas,” said national Macy’s windows director Roya Sullivan said, WCBS Radio reported. “And it’s really how Santa is in all our hearts during the holiday season. So believe in that wonder. Believe in that giving. And that’s what we portrayed in the windows,” she said.

The windows take all year to design and build. In fact, just days after unveiling the windows in NYC, the team began thinking about Macy’s 2020 windows.

There are six windows that are available to view until Jan. 1.

Learn more about the windows here. And visit Macy’s Santaland!