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Not everyone gets real fireworks at a going-away party. But Jean McFaddin (who we recently profiled) is used to big events. As senior vice president of public relations and events at Macy's, she has overseen all of the retailer's events, including the Thanksgiving Day Parade, since 1977. So a simple wingding with drinks and a few hors d'oeuvres might have seemed humdrum. Instead, guests got a cocktail party with the same kind of feel-good entertainment that dominates the company's big events.
As guests arrived at the party at the Water Club, they encountered the New York Police Department Marching Band, who appeared because McFaddin has worked closely with numerous NYPD officials on the parade and other outdoor events. Inside the restaurant's banquet room--with its large windows looking out on the East River--attendees munched on a fairly simple buffet of pasta, raw veggies, cheese and salad.
The party itself felt more like a family reunion than a corporate event. There were lots of hugs, lots of photos being taken and lots of name tags that said either “Macy's” or “former Macy's” under people's names. (Thank McFaddin's down-home, still-Texan-after-all-these-years charm.) In addition to many employees and former employees, the crowd included numerous NYPD officials and special events vendors who worked with McFaddin on past events. Most of the more than 200 guests paid $70 to attend the three-hour event, which was one of a series of parties held in McFaddin's honor. Macy's also held a breakfast for her department on her last day in the office, and the company's management held a cocktail party at Madison Square Garden.
Later, the entertainment included appearances by Willard Scott and Santa Claus, and a video with greetings from Barney, Katie Couric, Al Roker and Bob Hope's wife, Dolores, plus footage from past parades and a press conference where Mayor Giuliani presented McFaddin with a proclamation calling her “the event queen of Macy's.” And the climax: Guests looked out the room's large windows to watch as a barge (from Hughes Brothers) with “Jean!” in lights launched a fireworks display by Fireworks by Grucci and Pyro Spectaculars.
McFaddin was clearly touched by the outpouring, although she remained the quintessential event planner. She quieted the crowd more than once, and at one point, as she stood on stage receiving an award, she confessed, “I keep managing my own event.”
Read our profile of Jean McFaddin...