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The Daily Need

Photo: Santa’s new ride

Santa debuted his new sleigh last year. Photo: AP Charles Sykes

What better way to celebrate Black Friday and the start of the holiday season than with a debate. Last year, while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I saw that Santa’s sleigh, the highlight of the parade and the “official” symbol of the start of the holiday season, had for the first time in 40 years, been changed. As described by a Macy’s press release, the new sleigh is “depicting Santa’s travel on Christmas Eve, we see good old St. Nick as he leaves the North Pole on his magical journey. The North Pole is showcased by Santa’s Toyshop home and by a giant ice and granite obelisk that is supported by ice sculptures of a Walrus and a Polar Bear. Santa’s Sleigh is a colossal float that measures 60-feet long, 22-feet wide and is 3 1/2 Stories tall. As Santa leaves the North Pole he flies over his home and begins his worldwide voyage sure to make children of all ages, BELIEVE!”

Well, I didn’t believe. I am a fan of the old sleigh. It was a gorgeous carriage, 50 feet long, lined with plush green velvet and trimmed with Swiss silver bells. It was the shape of a winter snow goose, with a crown around its neck and a bell in its beak. Pulling the sleigh were 12.5-f00t-tall reindeer with exaggerated 8-foot antlers. Behind it was a 25-foot wreath.

Santa waves from his older sleigh in 1995. Photo: AP/Paul Hurschmann

I understand the change. You had to be pretty close to the thing to see Santa as he was wrapped in the feathery embrace of the snow goose throne. If you were seven, eight or nine rows back from the route (as most people watching the parade are nowadays), good luck getting a decent picture to show the folks at home. On the new sleigh, you can see Santa from the moon. It’s big, it’s out there. But to me, it’s missing something. Personality?

Cue the debate. One colleague says the old reindeer were “creepy looking” and the new reindeer look friendlier. To some, Santa is creepy anyway — a stranger breaking into your home, eating your food and digging through your socks.

So, which sleigh do you prefer? The old goose or the shiny new green sleigh? See the two photos above: the first features Santa’s new sleigh, the second has the old sleigh, with an inset of the supposedly scary reindeer (you are so wrong, Brianna).

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  • Peghardman

    Fan of the old, but truly loved the new sleigh and everything about it; I say keep the new!

  • Jon

    Like most of its kind, this innovation cheapens the overall look while translated the visual aesthetic into something modern children can relate to – cartoonish lines, vivid color and context. The newer sleigh lacks any lore or folksy feeling. I liked the tradition of the old sleigh, but this is a Macy’s Sunday circular world we live in – they know best what “sells” – ugh.

  • Susan

    The old sleigh is much more interesting and unique – the new one is nicely done but it looks like every other Santa sleigh on the planet. I vote for the old.

  • PostMuse

    I like the old sleigh, but the new one is very pretty, and so big. Big is good in a parade. And someday I am going to get to see this parade as it happens, in NYC.

  • Sagewillis

    The old sleigh !!!!!!!!!!! Bring the old one back… No folksy feeling .The snow goose looks mad… Not a friendly face !!!

  • Dee

    I personally prefer the style of the old sleigh. Yes, the new sleigh is well done (in this age of technology, tools and materials, how could it be anything other than?). The new is much more commercial and does align with today’s bolder graphic style, relying on no traditional iconography whatsoever. But, I disagree with the article–Santa (aka a human dressed up as…) is the same size in both sleighs; and though opinion may differ as to being able to decipher Santa from his sleigh, today’s camera’s zoom features can allow for a decent photo from just about anybody, even many rows back.

  • tkb

    Love the new reindeer, but I like the personality of the old sleigh. Stay with the new.

  • Amy

    I didn’t like everything about the old design, especially the exaggerated reindeer antlers, but still appreciated the craftsmanship. The new one is just boring. I would want something in between, combining realism and practicality with craftsmanship and personality!

  • Dachshund4

    I totally agree about the new sleigh being boring. That was my first thought. I say go back to the old sleigh.

  • Meg

    The old sleigh is creepy! The new sleigh and reindeer are just right.

  • Lilofee1939

    fan of the old, traditional sleigh and reindeer. The new one has no personality.

  • Andrea Ros

    definitely the old one. it was exquisite. new one? anh.

  • Clfeedback

    I prefer the old one because he seemed closer, more available and I have many memories of watching that one over about 30 years. Most memorable was the year the sleigh turned the corner onto 34th Street and as Santa climbed down he lost his pants. These are memories you won’t see with the new sleigh – must take a crane to get him up there.

  • S S

    That new sleigh is a pussy sleigh -bring back the rams head! ; )

  • Dratar

    I love the old one.

  • Words4sail

    This is the third Macy’s sleigh in my lifetime of watching the parade.
    I like that Santa finally has a new mode of transportation. The old goose is finally cooked and the reindeer no longer have headaches from carrying elaborate headgear down the parade route.

  • Nim

    I cast my vote for the old sleigh. It’s magnificently sculpted and recalls an age of fairy tales. And what better time for Santa’s myth to evoke in the hearts of children?
    The new sleigh is very much reminiscent of the plastic thing you stake into your lawn. All the corners have been rounded off the reindeer, and the colors are applied in broad strokes. I’ll take the exaggerated lace of antlers over the sleek, green shine of the new sleigh any day.

  • Meg

    Neither! How about Macy’s gets a REAL old sleigh and has it pulled by REAL horses Imagine that?

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