This Thanksgiving, I'm fulfilling a lifelong dream to be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! In addition to my more serious life goals to move to New York City, make it in the magazine industry, and send as many girls as I can to school, I've always wanted to experience the magic of the Thanksgiving Day Parade that I've watched on TV every single year. So, over the course of a decade, I manifested it.

About 10 years ago, I learned that you had to be nominated by a Macy's employee to volunteer in the parade. So I kept talking about this bucket-list dream, and last year I eventually found someone who knew someone, and this someone actually assistant produced the parade. Madeleine Magardician is magical.

Once I was accepted as a Macy's Parade Volunteer thanks to Madeleine, I got to choose from three roles: Float Escort, Balloon Handler, or Clown. I always envisioned myself as a Float Escort, but then, just before I hit "send" with my selection, I remembered Grammie.

"Grammie" is what we called my dad's mom. In her retirement, she became a clown. No, she didn't join the circus, but she was properly trained on how to be a clown, whom she named "Ellie Bell" (her name was Eleanor) so she could visit hospitals and cheer up kids.

Grammie in her clown costume

Grammie in her clown costume

If Grammie knew I had the chance to be a world-famous clown and didn't take it...I knew what I had to do to honor her spirit and laughter. 

When I chose to be a clown, I did it in Grammie's memory, not realizing what else makes the clowns so special. They are the only part of the Thanksgiving Day parade that gets to touch the hearts and hands of the 3.5 million bystanders. No one else, not the marching bands, nor the balloon handlers, nor the float escorts, gets to run to the sidelines to high five a kid or throw confetti on people.

To prepare us for our role, Macy's held "Clown U" at the Big Apple Tent last weekend, which I attended with my sister Shelley. Real Big Apple Circus Clowns taught us how to master the art of being silly and making people smile. We'll be part of the Springtime Clowns group, which opens the parade! 

We graduated from Clown U! That's my sister Shelley, Noel (Queen Bee of the Springtime Clowns, who works for Macy's), and Moo Chacha, our Big Apple Circus Clown coach.

We graduated from Clown U! That's my sister Shelley, Noel (Queen Bee of the Springtime Clowns, who works for Macy's), and Moo Chacha, our Big Apple Circus Clown coach.

I'll head home to New Jersey after the parade, full of gratitude to be surrounded by people I love; fortunate to do what I love in the city I love--and reminded that all of that stems from the gift of a quality high school and college education I was given.

The lesson I'm taking away from this: Talk about your dreams, OUT LOUD, from the serious ones to the seemingly silly ones. It's the only way to turn them into a reality.

In 1994, Grammie was a clown at my sister Shelley's 7th birthday party. I'm the big sister standing up in pink.

In 1994, Grammie was a clown at my sister Shelley's 7th birthday party. I'm the big sister standing up in pink.

My Halloween costume circa 1988 could have also predicted my destiny.

My Halloween costume circa 1988 could have also predicted my destiny.



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