Macy’s Parade Volunteer Story

by Parade Guy on December 1, 2009

Hi there. First, you should know something about me. I am kind of persistent. With that in mind, I wanted to add the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade to my Parade Resume. What’s that you ask? About three years ago, I started volunteering at parades as a serious hobby. Before that, I had volunteered at two parades, both in Chicago, for the last five years. Last year, after successfully integrating the McDonald’s Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, I decided that I should spend Thanksgiving in New York City. After all, I had been staying there for work for over three years.

So, I set out upon the task of getting involved. The first thing I found out was that there are over five thousand volunteers needed to plan and execute the Parade each year. By comparison, the same parade in Chicago targets its recruitment at about seventeen hundred volunteers. In order to be a volunteer at the Macy’s Parade, you have to meet one of three criteria:

1.  Be employed by Macy’s
2.  Be related to a Macy’s employee
3.  Be sponsored by a Macy’s employee who is an approved Parade volunteer.

I figured out that it would take me about six months to talk my way in. My first effort was to find out who was in charge. I used the Google search engine to do my research. By culling articles, I tracked down the name:

Amy Kule
Group Vice President, National Events & Partnership Marketing
Macy’s Annual Events

She was mentioned in a series of articles as the person responsible for the making of the parade. On July 23rd, I started by attack, umm, effort to get involved. I used the email address schema that I had seen on the Macy’s website for other officers and sent her my Parade resume. I found her on www.linkedin.com and sent her a message and a connection request and finally, I found her on www.facebook.com and did followed the same approach.

I had pierced the corporate veil.

On July 31st, I received a form letter from Donna-Marie Walters, of the Macy’s Parade Studio. In her email, she clearly stated the three criteria mentioned above. It was kind of cold. Not at all in the spirit of a parade. But she didn’t know me very well either.

At the time, I was positive that I was not employed by Macy’s. To the best of my knowledge, none of my relatives were either. I started off to find an employee that was volunteering that would sponsor me. This too was a multi-pronged attack, errr, effort.

Step One. Go to my favorite on-line free bulletin board, www.craigslist.com. Over the last few years, Craig had been very good to me. I have found TV’s, blenders, apartments, friends, and other parades. I posted ads in several sections including Activities, Volunteers, and in the Personal section called Strictly Platonic. While I got several responses to my posts, they were all from people who also wanted volunteer at the Parade. Nobody was offering to sponsor me.

Step Two. Network. I knew that the security guard at my Verizon office also had a second job as a Night Security Manager at the Macy’s in Brooklyn on Fulton Street. That particular store was just two blocks from the office and I had even shopped there on occasion. Anton told me that he knew many employees who had volunteered in the past and that he would be happy to introduce me. He went to the General Manager of the store, a charming woman named Annabelle, and told her of my goal. He informed me that according to Annabelle, she had not heard from the corporate Parade recruiters yet, which was later than usual. (hear foreboding music) After pestering him for a few weeks, I followed him to the store and kind of forced him to introduce me, which he did so gratefully. I think that this got me off of his back.

I met Annabelle and her new Human Resources Manager, who had been involved in the Parade in the past, but wasn’t going to volunteer this year. Annabelle told me that she would forward my name into the Corporate Office with her support. On August 23rd, I relayed this back to Donna-Marie in the Parade Studio. It didn’t take long, in fact less than an hour for her to generate the same criteria in an email response. Step Two was not going to work.

Step Three: Become a Macy’s Employee. I realize that this may seem extreme to you, but by this point, it was more of the challenge than anything else. On August 30th, I went on line at www.macys.com, and applied for several jobs. In order to increase my chances at getting hired, I applied at both the Brooklyn Store and the Flagship store in Herald Square in Manhattan, on 34th Street. I did not think that it would take a Miracle on 34th Street to get a part time job. I felt that I was qualified for many of the jobs listed including: Seasonal Support Staff (can you sort S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, and 4XL in shirts, nightgowns, and underwear?), Seasonal Sales Staff (will that be cash or charge?) and my favorite, On-Call Support Staff. This is the role that fills in for anyone that doesn’t show up and does what needs to be done. I would make sure that I had a fresh supply of Powder Milk Biscuits on hand at all times.

My On-Line resume was kind of sparse. I entered my current employer and the last retail experience I had. This was in 1980 when I worked for Sears in the Stock Room. Which I thought was right on target.

This got me two things. First, it got me one of my favorite emails of all times. On September 10th, I received the following missive:

Dear Gerald,
 
Thank you for your interest in the position of Holiday/Seasonal Support Associate – Temporary/Part Time, Flexible Hours and Weekends: Macy’s Brooklyn.
 
We have carefully reviewed your skills and qualifications. Unfortunately, we do not have an appropriate position that matches your experience and skill set.
 
We thank you again for your interest in exploring employment opportunities with us, and wish you much success in your future endeavors.
  
Sincerely,
Human Resources
Macy’s

I was amazed. So was everyone who I showed it to. It was very entertaining to say the least, however, it was not doing anything to help me get into the Parade.

On September 25th, I received a call from the Human Resources department at the Flagship Store, requesting that I come in for an interview for the Seasonal Store Support position.

You are confirmed for your appointment:

Date: Friday, October 2, 2009
Time: 10:15:00 AM EDT

Macy’s New York City: Herald Square: Store
151 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001
Thank you for scheduling an interview with Macy’s! We look forward to meeting you. Please be sure to check in for your interview at least 5-10 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time. If you need to reschedule your interview for any reason, please use the self reschedule link included in this confirmation.

Reasonable accommodations will be made for disabled individuals who require accommodation in the interviewing or application process. If you need a reasonable accommodation, please email us at macysjobs@macys.com
After arriving at the interview location proceed as follows:

Take the elevator to the 8th Floor and check in with Human Resources Reception Desk.
If you need to reschedule your interview for any reason, please use the self reschedule link included in this confirmation.
If you have any questions or can’t reschedule your interview on your own please email Human Resources at macysjobs@macys.com
If you cannot keep this appointment, it is important that you let us know.
Please reschedule or cancel the appointment before your appointment time.
See you then.

Regards,

Human Resources

YAY!

I was going to take this seriously. I put on a freshly pressed shirt and even got out one of my ties, a Jerry Garcia tie I was given for good luck. I arrived early to find about forty people scheduled for interviews at the same time. I overheard one of the HR people telling an applicant that this was not busy, and that they had over seventeen hundred seasonal positions to fill. I thought my chances were pretty good at landing a job.

After waiting about forty-five minutes, I was called to meet with a Recruiter. If I recall correctly, her name was Martina. She was about thirty-five, well dressed in an all black suit. After some pleasantries, I told her why I was applying for a position at Macy’s. She informed me that in all of her twelve years at Macy’s, no one had ever applied to Macy’s just to get a chance to volunteer at the Parade. We went through my application and her first question was why was there a thirty-year gap in employment. I explained that I put the only experience that I thought was relevant to the position. She suggested that go back and add all of my employment experience. She also wanted me to meet the New York Area Regional Director of Human Resources for Macy’s. This woman was very involved in the Parade and had been for years.

I don’t want to belittle anyone personally. I met the New York Area Regional Director of Human Resources for Macy’s and her first question was why do I want to work for Macy’s? By now, I was prepared. “ I am looking for a mutually beneficial position that will allow me to pursue my avocation of making Parades while performing a valuable service for Macy’s. I foresee returning each year as a valued and capable seasonal employee while meeting the criteria that allows me to volunteer for the Parade.” She didn’t buy it for one minute. But we did talk about my roles in other parades, especially the Tournament of Roses Parade. It occurred to me that she could have sponsored me with the stroke of a pen. Maybe it didn’t occur to her.

Martina returned and asked me to go to the kiosk to update my application with the rest of my employment history. She had an idea that she was working on and needed a few minutes.

I went to the kiosk and dutifully added all of my previous jobs. I have also added my Degree from Michigan State University in Packaging. It took about half an hour. Then I looked for other opportunities available either back in Brooklyn or at the Flagship store. I felt that I was capable of succeeding at a number of positions. I considered applying for positions of Telecommunications Manager, Logistics manager, and Elves, although I would be a singular Elf.

Once I was done, I went back and left a message at the HR Check-in desk for Martina and took my place. After about fifteen minutes, Martina called me over to one of the interview cubes. The first thing we discussed was my meeting with her Director. I told her everything that happened. She asked me if the Director offered to sponsor me. After that, she told me about the On-call position for Seasonal Support Staff. In essence, you are hired as an employee with no set hours. You get a call when they need you and if you are available, you come in and backfill the absent employee. It was perfect and I thanked her. She was going to try and set up an interview and her only advice was to “knock off the crazy parade talk.” The On-Call hiring manager was not in the building, but she promised me that I would get a call on Monday.

This was on October 2nd. I thought I had plenty of time to get hired and get into the Parade. These kinds of thoughts are very deceiving.

On Monday, I did get a call from the HR scheduler. She was very nice and seemed very sweet. She asked me if I could come in tomorrow Tuesday, at 2:00pm for an interview. This puzzled me as part of the on-line application was to check through schedule boxes to indicate your availability. I marked that I was available after 6:00pm Monday through Friday and all day on Saturday and Sunday. So I asked her if she had my application. She did. Did she see where I was not available during the weekdays for employment? She did. I told her that I was working and could not make it at 2:00pm on a workday. Then she asked me if I could come in on Wednesday at 2:00pm. I asked her if she had my application. She did. Did she see where I was not available during the weekdays for employment? She did. I told her that I was working and could not make it at 2:00pm on Wednesday either. She promised to call me back.

Which she did, the very next day. I recognized both her number and her voice. She asked me if I could come in on Wednesday at 2:00pm. I asked her if she had my application. She did. Did she see where I was not available during the weekdays for employment? She did. I told her that I was working and could not make it at 2:00pm on Wednesday. I was able to use the copy and paste function both here and on the phone. I asked her about interviewing by telephone. Nope. I asked her about interviewing after 5:00pm, on Saturday or Sunday. She would check and get back to me, but she didn’t think the hiring manager was available for interviews on any day but Tuesday or Wednesday. She would call me.

Which she did, the very next day. I recognized both her number and her voice. She asked me if I could come in next Tuesday, at 2:00pm for an interview. I asked her if she had my application. She did. Did she see where I was not available during the weekdays for employment? She did. I told her that I was working and could not make it at 2:00pm on a workday. Then she asked me if I could come in next Wednesday at 2:00pm. I asked her if she had my application. She did. Did she see where I was not available during the weekdays for employment? She did. I told her that I was working and could not make it at 2:00pm on Wednesday either. I did ask her if she remembered talking to me the day before. She did.

It wasn’t looking good.

But I had Parade faith.

On Saturday, November 21st, I got a call late at night from my friend Amy. She was very excited because she had crossed paths with the Marketing and Outreach Director for the Macy’s Parade Studio. In doing so, she had the opportunity to introduce me, in absentia, and was thinking that this woman would get me into the parade, even at this late date. I sent her my Parade Resume and followed up on Monday and Tuesday.

In order to be a volunteer at the Macy’s Parade, you have to meet one of three criteria:

1.Be employed by Macy’s
2.Be related to a Macy’s employee
3.Be sponsored by a Macy’s employee who is an approved Parade volunteer.

Cool huh?

She did open the door to allowing me to request the proper form for the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

And the best part? It was the best Thanksgiving in a long time.

See ya on the route.

Parade Guy

  • Michelle

    Parade Guy -
    This was a very informative (albeit a little disheartening). I too have the dream of being in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I thought this would be my year. I recently moved to upstate NY and cannot travel home to be with my family. I had a friend of a friend that made it seem simple for herself to sponsor me as soon as the Parade Forms came out. That date came and went and I haven’t heard from her. Now, although I have Parade Faith, my hopes are diminishing. Looks like its time to start working towards 2011.
    -Michelle

  • Joseph

    Omg im so glad I found this because I always wanted to be in the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC just like you. Maybe you can help me. Im so excited now

  • Alex Wei

    Gerald, great story. Almost fell out my seat laughing. Along these lines, however, I’ve also been looking to get in as a volunteer for the Macy’s parade, but 1) Not employed by Macy’s, 2) Not related to a Macy’s employee, 3) Don’t know any Macy’s volunteers to sponsor me. Would you have any connections to get me in now that you’re relatively famous?

  • Parade Guy

    Hi,

    Thanks for your interest in Parades. I still have not found a way in, but I am not giving up. I talked my way into some pretty big parades around the Country, so Macy’s can be broken too.

    I am getting ready to head to Pasadena. Watch for the LaCanada/Flintridge Float. I help build it before working the parade.

    See ya on the route.

    Jerry

  • Parade Guy

    Hi,

    Thanks for your interest in Parades. I still have not found a way in, but I am not giving up. I talked my way into some pretty big parades around the Country, so Macy’s can be broken too.

    I am getting ready to head to Pasadena. Watch for the LaCanada/Flintridge Float. I help build it before working the parade.

    See ya’ on the route.

    Jerry

  • Parade Guy

    Hi,

    Thanks for your interest in Parades. I still have not found a way in, but I am not giving up. I talked my way into some pretty big parades around the Country, so Macy’s can be broken too. My advice is to start early.

    I am getting ready to head to Pasadena. Watch for the LaCanada/Flintridge Float. I help build it before working the parade.

    See ya on the route.

    Jerry

  • rachel

    My husband and I really want to volunteer in the parade this year or next! We went to the parade 2 years ago and have both wanted to be involved in it ever since that day. I know it’s been a few years since you participated in the parade… do you have a contact or do you know a parade volunteer that is able/willing to sponsor other people to volunteer? You were very committed and I would love a chance at volunteering without jumping through all the crazy hoops that you did!

  • rachel

    My husband and I really want to volunteer in the parade this year or next! We went to the parade 2 years ago and have both wanted to be involved in it ever since that day. I know it’s been a few years since you participated in the parade… do you have a contact or do you know a parade volunteer that is able/willing to sponsor other people to volunteer? You were very committed and I would love a chance at volunteering without jumping through all the crazy hoops that you did!

  • Tom

    That was a crasy story !!!  I too want to volunteer (with my daughter) we would like to go to New York and help out for the parade. Sounds like it will be impossible without knowing a friend of a friend etc.  That will be so disappointing …  
    We are not opposed to just watching from the sidelines, but it would be way more fun to be part of the parade.  If somebody out there knows a way to make that happen please post or send me an email (thomasdboos .com) – we would be coming from Florida and it would be a quite a treat/thrill to be part of the Macy tradition.

  • Chris

    Luckily you didn’t have to be a pooper scooper like I was.

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