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FIT Instructor wins Macy's Rollie Award

Dec '08
Barbara Berman, FIT Facilitator & Instructor
Barbara Berman, a facilitator and instructor in the Fashion Events Planning certificate program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), is the winner of Macy's 2008 Rollie Award for her outstanding work as Macy's costume crew chief for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Berman has been costume crew chief since 2002. The award, named for Macy's founder, Rowland Hussey Macy, is given for creative contributions to Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

Kimberly Montgomery, director of Creative Production for the Macy's Parade and Entertainment Group, said, "Barbara Berman is no stranger to the fashion runway; it's just that this one is 2 ½ miles long!"

The crew is responsible for wardrobing every person in the parade except the marching bands, which have their own uniforms, and the celebrities, who dress at home. There are more than 2,000 costumes in the parade, including 25 varieties of clowns, participants on 22 floats, handlers for 27 balloons, and 42 elves on Santa's sleigh. Berman and her crew dress all of them, though not Santa himself, who is considered a celebrity and dresses at home.

"I was asked by Macy's six years ago to train and add to a core of people who worked behind the scenes on the parade," Berman said. "I added 20 from FIT's Professional Development program. Over the years I have added more, and the total is now 125.

"Approximately 90 of the 125 dressers have taken classes through FIT's Center for Professional Studies," Berman continued. "That's where they acquire their wardrobing skills."

To make sure their costumes fit, all participants complete an extensive form, listing their sizes and precise measurements. The full-time wardrobe department then matches each participant's information to a costume in the warehouse. The costumes are tagged and trucked to the New Yorker Hotel, where Berman and the costume crew meet at 5:30 am on Thanksgiving morning. At 6 am, the parade participants arrive to be garbed.

"Last minute adjustments are necessary if people haven't been honest about their sizes," Berman said. After the parade, costumes are returned to the warehouse for laundering, and the workers scatter for a well-earned Thanksgiving dinner.

The Fashion Events Planning certificate program is one of the many courses offered by FIT's Center for Professional Studies, a department in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Both credit and non-credit programs are available. These abbreviated courses of study provide comprehensive coverage of a particular career specialty or field. They are geared toward industry-experienced individuals seeking career advancement or new possibilities.

Fashion Institute of Technology

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