Snow fell on Sixth Avenue Tuesday morning.
No, it wasn’t a sign of climate change. It was Santa’s way of promoting ticket sales for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.
Rockettes dressed as reindeers and danced and kicked their way through “Jingle Bells” and toy soldiers marched on top of the marquee in unison as Santa bellowed down at dozens watching along the closed off thoroughfare.
“Things get quiet in New York sometimes in August so this is sort of a fun event to do,” said East Harlem resident Diana Stinehour, who came with her husband, Craig, and 8-year-old daughter Beatrice. This was their first year seeing Christmas in August. “It was pretty cool to see them make snow on Sixth Avenue in August.”
This year will be the family’s fourth consecutive year seeing the show. They have two traditions during the holiday season: cutting down a tree in Vermont, and seeing the Rockettes. “Everything else is optional,” said Craig Stinehour, 54.
“It’s my dad’s idea,” Beatrice said.
Katelyn Gaffney, 24, is going into her seventh year as a Rockette. On Tuesday she donned her toy soldier costume and danced above the crowd.
“I’ve come to see the Rockettes ever since I was a little girl, so now being up on that stage and being able to bring that joy, and seeing that little girl in the audience ... it truly never gets old to see that smile,” she said, adding that dancing on Sixth Avenue was a more intimate experience than even being on stage. “It’s fun to be that close to people.”
Fellow toy soldier Samantha Berger, 30, is going on to her 13th Christmas as a Rockette.
“This is our bread and butter, this is what Rockettes are known for,” she said. “I still feel like it’s my first year every year.”
For the main event — Santa — Christmas in August was an excuse to don his “dress Reds” so people know his profession. When he changes out of the outfit, he said, he likes to walk around New York anonymously.
Hell’s Kitchen and seeing the Hudson River, Santa said, was his favorite part of the city.
“I work at the coolest show, I have cool Rockettes, I have a cool orchestra, I have a cool audience in the coolest city in the coolest world,” Santa said, acknowledging the heat wave but insisting it wasn’t an issue for him. “I love water and snow and all of that.
“This is always a lot of fun,” he added. “It’s kind of like being shot out of a cannon: the first time that we’ve all been together and the Rockettes doing their numbers and we’re all getting a little bit of Christmas [spirit], so it’s really an exciting time for us. And to do it in August is even better.”