When New Yorkers return — happily, we’re sure — to work Monday morning, office buildings and their lobbies will likely be adorned with trees, wreaths, menorahs, shimmering balls, garland and giant Nutcrackers, as if a polar vortex of holiday cheer struck the city over Thanksgiving.
That’s because “elves” from American Christmas, a Westchester County-based company, were working overnight, over the weekend and overtime the last few weeks to bring the holidays to apartment buildings, hotels, office lobbies and many of the biggest tourist destinations around the city.
“We decorate Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tommy Hilfiger and Harry Winston,” said Fred Schwam, the second-generation CEO of the family-owned company that launched in the Bronx in 1968.
“The majority of our work is in the New York metropolitan area, but we also have installations in 35 cities across the United States,” added Schwam.
We tagged along with Santa’s helpers as they unloaded more than a dozen truckloads of holiday cheer at 1221 Sixth Ave. between 48th and 49th streets on a recent Saturday morning.
Dozens of bubble-wrapped wreaths were lugged in, along with boxes of lifelike-yet-lifeless evergreen branches.
While a team assembled giant metal rings for the base of a 24-foot-tall tree, others hung the wreaths and plugged in a Menorah.
Outside, heavy wooden boxes containing pieces of the iconic light bulb display were spread out on the sidewalk. Thirty-one 7.5-foot-tall LED light bulbs, a half dozen ladders of varying size, and wrenches, power tools, screwdrivers and hammers were laid out along Sixth Avenue between 48th and 49th streets.
Red wooden platforms were lifted by six to eight workers, fit snuggly next to each other and screwed into place. Heavy foam, which was shaped, coated and painted to look like giant, green outdoor power cords, were bolted into the wooden platforms. A five-foot tall plug was then added to the popular display before the heavy lifting began.
Under the watchful eyes of tourists strolling and taking selfies, the giant light bulbs were lifted and held into place by teams of six workers, enormous bolts pulling the pieces together.
Six hours later, a fence was set up and the entire 73-foot-long display was lit.
If you go to check out the display, don’t miss American Christmas’ giant Nutcrackers at the UBS building at 1290 Sixth Ave. near West 51st Street or the giant tree and wooden soldier display on the marquee at Radio City Music Hall.
And while the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which will be lit on Wednesday evening, is a live tree, the decorations in the Channel Gardens and on Saks Fifth Avenue across the street were all constructed by the elves of American Christmas.