The Macy’s Parade Reveals Its Star Elf

Keith Lapinig of Queens, NY, Wins Nationwide Contest to Design an Elf Balloon for the 85th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- After a nationwide hunt and incredibly artistic submissions stemming from Alaska to Florida, today Macy’s (NYSE:M) reveals the winning design of the first-ever Macy’s Great American Elf Adventure. This summer, in celebration of the upcoming 85th anniversary of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, the procession’s magical elves appeared by the thousands in cities across the country for fans to find and design according to their own creative, colorful visions. Following approximately 1,000 entries on Macy’s Facebook page, the general public voted for their favorite out of the top 85 best submissions. The winning design by Keith Lapinig of Queens, NY, was overwhelmingly selected by fans and will now be made into the parade’s newest Elf balloon.

Macy's announces Keith Lapinig of Queens, NY, as the winner of the Macy's Great American Elf Adventure. Gazer Elf will now be made into a Macy's parade balloon set to debut this year. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Macy’s Great American Elf Adventure gave fans across the country the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a piece of Macy’s parade magic,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “We received amazingly creative submissions from across the country and narrowing down the Top 85 was a difficult task. Ultimately, Keith Lapinig’s heartfelt design and story for Gazer Elf captured the imagination and votes of a national trove of Macy’s parade fans. We are thrilled to take his vision to new heights and transform what he created into a helium wonder and the newest member of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Elf family.”

“I am flabbergasted at winning this contest. It’s my dream and I want to thank all of the people who voted for me. I can honestly say that now I feel accomplished as an artist,” said Keith Lapinig, winner of Macy’s Great American Elf Adventure.

Since 1947, the iconic Macy’s elf balloons have been fan favorites and for generations have served as an emblem of the Macy’s parade. Recreated in 2000, the Elf has grown into a family consisting of C.J., Charlie and Kit which each year guide Santa Claus down the parade route.

Mr. Lapinig’s Gazer is described by the artist as having an important role to play in the holiday season. When not flying down the streets of Manhattan, Gazer helps fulfill the wishes of thousands of children that visit Santa Claus at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City each year. Once a wish is whispered to Santa Claus, it becomes a star which Gazer then guides safely to the North Pole, so that each wish becomes a reality.

Gazer’s design was inspired by the story of R.H. Macy who chose Macy’s famed star emblem after a fateful fishing trip that found him lost at sea. Mr. Macy credited the North Star with guiding him safely back to shore and so he made it the trademark of his New York City store. Aside from the prominent star on his hat, other elements of the design include the shape of the moon on Gazer’s face, the New York City skyline on his feet, and the wishing star trail that wraps around his body.

From here, the unique design will be transformed into a flying wonder by the artists at Macy’s Parade Studio who will replicate the vision onto a 34 foot-tall balloon that will join the 85th parade line-up.

In addition to having his design made into a Macy’s parade balloon, Mr. Lapinig will win VIP seating and accommodations for himself and three guests to enjoy his elf’s maiden flight in front of more than 3.5 million spectators and more than 50 million television viewers.

Macy’s Great American Elf Adventure kicked off on August 9 and saw Elf models hidden in 669 Macy’s stores and distributed at select locations covering all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. The top 85 best entries were selected by a team of Macy’s parade officials, and Macy’s Facebook fans selected the winner. To see the winning design, as well as the top 85 entries log on to and “like” the Elf Adventure application.

The 85th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airs on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011 from 9 a.m. to Noon in all time zones on NBC-TV.

About the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

With more than 50 million viewers across the country and more than 3.5 million spectators that line up along the streets of New York City each year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a national icon that has grown into a world-famous holiday event. For more than 80 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has marked the official start of the holiday season. Growing in size and scale, the parade proudly marches down a more than 2-mile route in New York City with more than 8,000 participants in tow, including Macy’s employees, their families, celebrities, athletes, clowns and dance groups spreading holiday cheer. The parade also features America’s best marching bands, fabulous floats and Macy’s signature giant helium character balloons. For more information on the Macy’s parade please visit or call the parade hotline at (212) 494-4495.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:

Holly Thomas, 646-429-5250

Source: Macy’s