Senior isn't letting any parades pass her by

  • Chance of a lifetimeSenior Jessica Boysen will spend Thanksgiving 2008 at command-central for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. She says her favorite parts of the parade are the performances from Broadway plays.

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

    Chance of a lifetime
  • Did You Know?Falloon is a term coined by the Macy's Parade studio to describe a float with a balloon character on it. Several character balloons are depicted in this poster for the 2007 parade.

    Did You Know?
  • Tradition, traditionThe Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was created by its employees in 1924. Today, more than 4,000 volunteers bring the event to life. Macy's celebrated its 150th anniversary in Oct. 2008. This Herald Square building is the company's New York flagship store and "center stage" for the parade.

    Courtesy image

    Tradition, tradition
  • Practice makes perfectBill Schermerhorn ('82), who was a theater major at the College, is pictured with actress/singer Julie Andrews (left) during a rehearsal for a previous year's parade.

    Courtesy image

    Practice makes perfect

Growing-up, Jessica Boysen remembers spending Thanksgiving morning in the kitchen with her mom cooking and watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"My mom always said, ‘Christmas doesn't start until Santa Claus comes down Broadway,'" she recalled.

While Boysen will again spend her Thanksgiving watching the parade, this year it won't be from the kitchen. The English major will watch the 82nd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the heart of the action-inside a TV production truck just off Broadway.

Her behind-the-scenes access comes courtesy of Bill Schermerhorn, vice president and creative director of the Macy's Parade. Schermerhorn is a 1982 graduate of the College of William and Mary and, for the last three years, has sponsored an internship for a William and Mary student to shadow him for the parade and its last minute preparations.

"There's nothing quite like being side-by-side with the best producers, TV director and network crew around and see how we work together to share the joys and solve the challenges that arise that you can't learn in the classroom," Schermerhorn said in an email.

Boysen heard about the shadowing opportunity over the summer through an email from career services, that coordinates the parade internship.

"Every year there are numerous William and Mary students who express a strong interest in pursuing a career in events planning - The Macy's shadowing experience is an outstanding opportunity for our students to learn from one of the best events planners in the business," said Mark Case, senior associate director of the College of William and Mary Career Center.

The internship, in its third year, is an exclusive opportunity for William and Mary students thanks to Schermerhorn.

"The William and Mary shadow opportunity is becoming as much of a tradition for me on Thanksgiving Day as balloons, bands and turkey," he said.

Boysen added, "I think the fact that he is so dedicated to bringing a William and Mary student to this huge, national opportunity opens your eyes to the potential that William and Mary gives to students. To be able to have this opportunity, even for just a couple of days is extremely meaningful."

According to the Career Center, applicants for the internship average around 35 each year. About a third of the students that submit a resume are selected for a personal interview. Schermerhorn comes to campus personally to conduct the interviews at the beginning of the fall semester. A final selection is made by early September.

Boysen will spend two and a half days in New York. November 25 and 26 she'll shadow Schermerhorn during rehearsals. For the parade itself, she'll have a bird's eye view of all of the events.

"During the parade," she explained, "I'll be sitting in the production trailer with the producers and the director making sure that the commercials get placed correctly."

In addition to the parade experience, Boysen said she is also looking forward to simply being in the "Big Apple." While it won't be her first time in the city - Boysten spent the summer in New York with another internship - she's never been in town for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"I am just very excited to be up in New York around the holiday season. There is a certain excitement...when you go up there," she said.

Boysen said she was also looking forward to the opportunity to see the whole parade.

"When I was a kid I'd never wake-up in time to see the beginning of it, though I'd always see the end," she said. " So I'm excited to see how it actually starts."