November 19, 2012


CHS teacher in Macy’s Parade

Tully resident will help hold float on Thanksgiving in NYC

CHSBob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland High School English teacher Bill Lee will be among the crew holding the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” float in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday in New York City. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is a children’s book series.

Staff Reporter

Tully resident and Cortland High School teacher Bill Lee will have a lifelong dream come true this Thanksgiving: to be a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Lee has been sponsored by Melissa Burke, a Macy’s employee, to be a balloon handler on the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” float.
The child book series is about a middle-schooler and the humorous incidents he goes through growing up.
Lee, who has attended the Thanksgiving Day Parade as a spectator for about 12 years, said he has always wanted to be part of the excitement.
“I grew up watching the ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, the original, and it kicks off the holiday season,” Lee said of the parade.
He said he loves the excitement of the millions of people and seeing the joy on the faces of children.
When Lee first went to the parade in 1990, he said his son was 2 years old and he recalls standing in the biting cold. He plans on wearing layers and comfortable sneakers for this year’s parade and says he will try not to drink anything that morning since bathrooms will be hard to come by.
Lee said he got the opportunity to be part of the parade after he gave a presentation at Tully Hill, a chemical dependency treatment center. He works part-time as a counselor at the center and was giving a presentation on accomplishing your dreams.
He mentioned his dream to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and employee Bob Burke approached him afterward and told him his daughter is a Macy’s employee and might be able to make his dream come true.
Melissa Burke then sent him an email and that set into motion the process of becoming a handler for the balloon.
Lee is not sure what part of the balloon he will be stationed at but said there are 48 handlers and each balloon has a captain, who directs the team how to move. Each handler is given a costume when he or she arrives at 6:30 Thanksgiving morning. Lee said the costume is a colored jumpsuit that he will wear and that each handler will also be able to ratchet up and down the ropes holding the balloon, to control its height.
Lee is hoping temperatures will be mid-50s and the day calm, without too much wind.
The route is about 2.5 miles long and begins at 79th Street and Central Park West and ends at Macy’s at 34th Street.
Lee said his wife, Sandie, thinks he is crazy but that he likes doing things on a whim.
Lee was also a contestant on the television show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in 2008, winning $8,000. He also recently drove to Boston to see the Dalai Lama speak even though he also appeared in Syracuse, because Lee wanted to see the two people appearing on stage with him in Boston.
“I do stuff like that because life is to be lived and to be enjoyed,” Lee said Saturday.
Lee said this desire to follow through on one’s dreams is a good lesson for his students.
Lee said he recently saw articles in a magazine written by an author he had known since the man was a child.
“I enjoy when people enjoy life and go out and do positive things,” he said.


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