Students and alumni volunteered in the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 23. The Thanksgiving celebration parade is broadcast each year on national television. Stevens students were photographed helping with balloon inflation, making the front page of The New York Times. The team of Stevens volunteers was under the coordination of Linda Vollkommer-Lynch, Professor of Physical Education, Women’s Fencing coach, and longtime parade volunteer. Other faculty members who participated in the illustrious event were Dean of Students Kenneth Nilsen and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Rainer Martini. Linda Vollkommer-Lynch has organized the event for over 30 years with Robert Grieser, a proud Stevens alumnus who is currently Head Coach of Fencing at the United States Military Academy.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began at 9 a.m. on 77th Street and Central Park West and trailed through the streets of Manhattan until the final stop on 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square. NBC broadcasted the parade starting at 9 a.m. (all time zones).
This year marked the 32nd anniversary of Stevens sending students, alumni, and staff to participate in the parade, with a group of 140 volunteers taking on a variety of roles such as balloon inflation, piloting, and vehicle management. There were 17 big balloons and the difference between this year’s parade and past years is that there were more balloons to inflate, including balloons depicting Olaf from the acclaimed Disney movie “Frozen,” Jett from the South Korean children’s series “Super Wings,” Chase from the cartoon TV show “Paw Patrol,” and Aflac Duck Balloonicle.
While volunteering for the parade is work that requires a true commitment — volunteers meet at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, work through the day, stay the night at the American Museum of Natural History, and wake up at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning — Stevens volunteers return year after year. The memories, they say, are worth it. Though the personal memories and camaraderie are reason enough to continue volunteering, Vollkommer-Lynch knows that it’s the memories the volunteers help create for others that truly bring them back.