And then there is his own personal Christmas, inside his apartment. Olszewski says he decorates his pad for the holidays with inspiration from that year’s Herald Square windows. “The apartment is very different from the windows because it’s very clean and modern,” he says. “But my tree itself is usually something to see because I’m not the type to just throw some balls and tinsel on it. It’s well thought out, and I buy new stuff every year, and it’s the showcase of my apartment. People expect that when they come over. I hate to disappoint them.”
There probably isn’t much chance of that. If Olszewski can live up to a cherished Macy’s legacy of wowing shoppers and window-shoppers alike while reinventing his profession on a yearly basis, he surely can bedazzle a few holiday dinner guests at home.
Says Reardon: “We are still the keeper of the tradition we started back in 1868 when we introduced Christmas-window displays as a way to celebrate the season with our customers and Christmas shoppers.”
Of course back then, they didn’t have Santa on a working roller coaster, the 2008 display that remains Olszewski’s personal favorite. “Santa Claus on a sleigh going through a snowstorm as he was flying,” he remembers. “We figured it out that from the time the windows opened to the time the windows shut, the little Santa sleigh could have gone from New York and barely made it to Los Angeles. It was just amazing.”
And this from a man who knows amazing, having specialized in it.
MICHAEL VENTRE is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for Variety, Los Angeles Confidential magazine, NBCSports.com and many other publications.