Jean McFaddin, Who Popularized Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Honored inSeeHer Story Episode 22
SeeHer Story airs every week on PEOPLE.com and @PeopleTV social handles
Thanks to Jean McFaddin, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has become one of the country's most spectacular and beloved Thanksgiving traditions.
The parade, often called "the longest-running show on Broadway," wouldn't have turned into the phenomenon it is today without McFaddin's creative mind to reimagine the event starting in the late 70s.
This week, SeeHer Story celebrates McFaddin and her unique additions to some of New York's most iconic events.
Katie Couric Media and PEOPLE partnered to create the second season of SeeHer Story, a weekly digital video series produced to celebrate various female trailblazers from the past 100 years to today.
The late McFaddin earned her master's in theater production and produced a number of experimental shows in New York and Los Angeles before becoming a famous planner with Macy's.
Her work overseeing New York City's Fourth of July Land festival caught the eye of the department store, which at the time was looking to revive their Thanksgiving Day Parade.
McFaddin became Macy’s senior vice president for special productions in 1977, according to the New York Times, and revamped the event to transform it into the parade we all know and love today.
Under her supervision, the parade doubled in size and McFaddin added dozens of balloon characters that continue to float today including Snoopy, Tom Turkey and Kermit the Frog.
She went on to work as the producer behind the parade for 24 years.
Her additions to the event earned the parade’s telecasts more than a dozen Emmy Awards and drew millions of viewers.
In 1999, McFaddin was inducted into the International Festivals and Events Association Hall of Fame.
Her creative talents went far beyond the parade — McFaddin was also the mastermind behind Macy’s Santaland, their spring indoor Flower Show and the dazzling Fourth of July fireworks.
McFaddin died of cancer in 2018, however, her impact on Macy's and New York City's most iconic traditions will live on for years to come.
SeeHer Story will be a regular feature in PEOPLE’s print edition and the weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.
"SeeHer Story celebrates the important contributions of bold women from the past 100 years who have changed our country forever,” said Couric in a statement. “We hope recognizing them and telling their stories will not only give them their due but will also inspire the next generation of leaders.”
She added, “Together with Meredith and PEOPLE, I’m so excited to bring back a second season of stories of women whose names you may know — and put those whose achievements are not as well-known — front and center so we can celebrate them as well.”