Visit New York this season and you'll likely find yourself enchanted by the holiday window display at Macy's Herald Square.
This year's theme centers on Sunny the Snowpal, a space-age snowgirl who helps her friends and makes sure Santa's sleigh travels safely on Christmas Eve.
Sunny the Snowpal will debut as a balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 22. (Watch the videos above and at the end of this story for the inside scoop on the parade). Kids might even find Sunny under the tree this year, in the form of a plush snowgirl available for purchase at Macy's stores.
So, who dreamed up Sunny and the land of her big adventures? In an interview by e-mail, artist Roya Sullivan, Macy's National Director of Window Presentation, explains how Sunny and her story came to grace the windows this year:
1. Please tell me how you were inspired to create Sunny the Snowpal, which is so adorable in its graphic simplicity, and yet combines old-fashioned holiday imagery with contemporary interest in STEM and space.
"I’m always reading children’s books (raising two boys, I still have many at home). For many years my boys' favorite books were "Zen Ties" and "Zen Socks," written by Jon J. Muth.
The core of his message is “On life's journey...kindness is the key.” I was inspired by this thought and wanted to create a friendship between a snow character, Santa and the fox. Adding the contemporary space element would help engage our customers. I like telling a traditional holiday adventure with a modern twist to engage our contemporary viewer."
2. Who do you hope will play with the Sunny plush dolls? Boys as well as girls? What ages? What kind of stories do you think they’ll dream up with this stuffed snowgirl?
"I know all kids will play with Sunny. She’s universal in her appeal: adventurous, brave and loves her friends dearly.
I hope they dream of being a good friend and help one another. Not all of us can achieve a grand gesture like Sunny and save Santa’s sleigh, but we can help one another and be a caring friend. She helps Fox, her BFF, parachute home for the holidays, which is the sweetest part of our story."
3. What role does technology play in contemporary window displays? Is the intent to make it seem like a video game, or to add layers of sensory experience, or both/neither/something else?
"Both. I am interested in creating a visual experience where the viewer is wowed by what she sees, a total visual and sound experience. However, with our tech-savvy customers, not only do they want to enjoy looking at the windows, but they would like to engage directly with the window.
This year our customers will be able to play a full window-sized video game where they are able to physically animate Sunny and move her through the game."
4. Did this year’s display start with the character of Sunny, or with a concept or a feeling or a value you hoped to convey? What is usually the “cornerstone” of your window displays, the one piece that gets the ball rolling?
"When designing and creating the story for the windows, I think of a narrative where my character meets and assists Santa in some way. My hero will be brave and will never let go of hope as he/she will always BELIEVE.
Of course, my hero will have a lot of fun and a great adventure in the middle of our story, and it is a must that my character will end with his/her friends and family on Christmas."
5. Is the process of creating a window display similar to staging a play? Or taping a TV program? Or is it more like creating an art installation?
"In the writing of the story, it is very close to staging a play, as I always think of scenes and what the animatronics with achieve in each scene. We move the characters in and out of the window to tell our story, creating scenes 1 and 2 within each window. In building the window, I am paying a lot of attention to materials, textures and craftsmanship. Here it is closer to an art installation where the viewer’s visual experience is the most important aspect.
Together with staging and installation we will engage all our customers."
MORE FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
Holiday Gift Ideas: 7 places in NJ where you can make handmade holiday gifts