Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show on Display

Saks Holiday Light Show
Installing the steel structure on the Saks Fifth Avenue facade.

The annual Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show, co-branded with fashion company Dior, is a highly anticipated event each holiday season in Manhattan.

This year’s spectacular, circular-shaped display, installed onto the store’s façade at 611 Fifth Avenue, measures 110-feet-high-by-120-feet wide and features musical accompaniment synced to thousands of programmable, color-changing LED lights.

Saks Holiday Light Show
The steel structure pieces were installed to the building front using threaded rod with epoxy.

As you’d expect, collaboration proved integral in successfully putting together an audio and visual project of this magnitude.

Signage and display provider AMA Electric Sign Co., of Mt. Vernon, New York, partnered with lighting developer American Christmas, LLC, also of Mt. Vernon, and full-service entertainment provider 4Wall Entertainment of Las Vegas to pull off this year’s electrifying toast-of-the-season project. (Note: AMA Electric Sign Co., and American Christmas have annually been involved with the Saks Holiday Light Show display for years.)

AMA Electric Sign designed, built, and installed the steel supporting structure hosting the light show, dubbed the “Carousel of Dreams.” This design is based off the Wheel of Fortune concept that is popular in astrology circles (a favorite pastime of Founder Christian Dior).

Saks Holiday Light Show
Hoisting the steel structure into place.

Jim Taggart, general manager of AMA Electric Sign, developed the structure’s concept and required functionality so that it could be installed efficiently while maintaining the required structural integrity, dispersing the loads over most of the façade. Taggart’s design was integral in allowing for smooth installation and ease of access for the attachment of the display components.

AMA Electric Sign sent their design concepts to McClaren Engineering who finalized the display by providing the approved sizes and attachment points based on the overall design and components.

Dior delivered the scenic elements featured on the display to AMA Electric Sign for evenual on-site installation. These LED-illuminated props (butterflies, sun, moons, stars, flowers, etc.) are made of aluminum frames and polycarbonate faces.

Saks Holiday Light Show
Reassembling the oversized pieces on-site.

AMA Electric Sign built the custom rack housing the scenic elements. Due to the size of this circular piece, they delivered it in sections to the storefront, put it back together on-site, then lifted it up.

Size played a role with a few of the pieces, as AMA Electric Sign had to disassemble some of the much-larger pieces into sections at their shop in order to transport them to the site for reassembly.

For example, they detached the wings and head of the butterfly at their shop before transporting it to midtown Manhattan. “We did the same for the sun located in the twelve o’clock position,” explains Taggart. “The top section and the bottom sections were fabricated separately. Its rays are independent, so we took off a quarter of those rays for the delivery and put everything together on site to lift it all as one piece.”

Saks Holiday Light Show
Preparing the lift a floral element up into place on the steel support structure.

They set up various bucket trucks (145-foot, 120-foot, 110-foot, 90-foot, and 55-foot) so their installers could access the Saks Fifth Avenue façade. The elements of the display, including the steel, were hoisted using AMA’s 40-ton crane and 100-foot and 130-foot boom trucks. (Note: AMA Electric Sign also provided the install equipment for 4Wall’s personnel.)

4Wall Entertainment set up the programmable portion of the presentation while the lighting and audio was designed by Chris Werner of Chris Werner Design, a Los Angeles-based design firm that specializes in lighting and media for architectural and entertainment projects. Werner’s team also provided the rooftop pyrotechnics that took place at the end of the grand opening on November 20.

Saks Holiday Light Show
The stunning light show in operation.

The entire installation was completed within eleven weeks as the installers worked nightly to achieve the client’s goal. The steel structure pieces were installed to the building front using threaded rod with epoxy.

“The annual Saks Holiday Light Show display is something that we look forward to every year, as it is working with American Christmas and 4Wall,” says Jim Taggart, describing this year’s project as an “AMA”-zing experience. “This display is beloved by the residents of New York City and the millions of tourists that view it every season.”

The stunning “Carousel of Dreams” display is located at 661 5th Avenue in New York City. The five-minute show runs with lights and audio every twenty minutes (three times an hour).

The Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas Lights Show premiered on November 20, and there’s still some time to catch it, as the audio-visual experience is scheduled to run until January 8.

YouTube video: oohinsider.

Behind the Scenes Credits

Persons responsible for this year’s display:

  • Joe Calvano, President, AMA Electric Sign
  • Jim Taggart, General Manager, AMA Electric Sign
  • Steve Cugini, Shop Foreman, AMA Electric Sign
  • Rich Ortiz, Site Installation Foreman, AMA Electric Sign
  • Will Vargas, Site Electrical Foreman, AMA Electric Sign
  • Steve Bonadonna, McLaren Engineering
  • William Gorlin, McLaren Engineering
  • Andrew Winton, Saks
  • Mike Tran, Dior
  • Moushette Maquillon, Dior
  • Chris Werner, Chris Werner Design
  • Joe Schmidt, 4 Wall
  • Tim Neggie, 4 Wall
  • Kent Fritel, Project Manager, American Christmas
  • Robert Madson, Site Project Manager, American Christmas
  • Dan Casterella, President, American Christmas

Video: AMA Electric Sign.

Video: AMA Electric Sign.

YouTube Video: Curious Desi.