Early on a crisp sunny morning on Thursday, Nov. 27, 1924, in New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wound its way from West 145th Street in Harlem (near the intersection with St. Nicholas Avenue) to Herald Square in Manhattan, about six miles.
While it took nearly three hours to cover the route, the parade floats, costumed marchers, zoo animals and bands only spanned two city blocks. Macy’s created this first parade to mark the expansion of its 1902 flagship store at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue in Herald Square to over 1 million square feet.
The last float of the parade featured Santa Claus, complete with his sleigh and reindeer. When he arrived at Herald Square, Father Christmas ascended a ladder to a balcony at Macy’s and was declared “King of the Kiddies” in front of the large crowd that had gathered.
The parade was a resounding success, and it became an annual event.
The 1947 Christmas film classic, “Miracle on 34th Street,” starring Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn, immortalized the Macy’s parade by featuring it in an early memorable scene. O’Hara plays Doris Walker, an executive at Macy’s who oversees the parade. Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a passerby who discovers that the Macy’s Santa is intoxicated. With a little cajoling from Doris, Kris decides to take the place of the spurious Santa.
The day is saved as Santa Claus rides his float and arrives safely at Herald Square to announce to all, “And you will find toys of all kinds at Macy’s!”
Another memorable moment from “Miracle on 34th Street” is the civil commitment trial of Kris Kringle. The state of New York tries to have him committed because he believes himself to be Santa Claus. While neither the prosecutor nor the judge really wants to lock up Santa, the judicial mechanisms push hard to take away his freedom.
As with the Macy’s parade, Kris Kringle’s trial was also filmed in New York City. It was filmed at the New York County Courthouse, now called the New York County Supreme Court, at 60 Centre St. on Foley Square. I noticed during media coverage of former President Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud trial that it was being held in room 300 of the very same building.
The New York County Supreme Court building is quite impressive with its granite face and massive Roman columns. At the top of the its façade is the statement (in capital letters): “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.”
Donald Trump would stand against this entire statement. He claims holding him accountable for fraud is not justice. He says the entire government is bad and biased against him.
Instead of attacking the facts of the case, Trump attacks the entire justice system and all government. He would rather destroy our system of justice and overthrow our entire government than face accountability. His actions and words suggest he hates America and would see it burned to the ground to save himself from the legal reckoning that seems well overdue in his four indictments, 91 criminal charges and multiple civil liability cases.
Kris Kringle was considered a fraud by many people, as just a kindly old gentleman out to do good deeds. Donald Trump is considered by many people as a fraud, as a mean old man out to undermine American democracy with his hate and anger and lies. In many ways, Trump is the anti-Claus.
As we all know, Kris Kringle was not committed to an insane asylum but declared, with a little help from the U.S. Postal Service, to be the one and only Santa Claus. Justice was served.
If all goes well, shortly after Thanksgiving this year, Judge Arthur F. Engoron of the Supreme Court 1st Judicial District in New York will declare Trump and his sons the greatest fraudsters in the history of our country. Then, the rule of law will rightfully prevail.
Dave Berger of Maple Grove, Minnesota, is a retired sociology professor, freelance writer and author.