A Frozen frenzy fires up Fifth

Saks Fifth Avenue celebrates Disney’s winter saga

Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images for Disney
A view of performance during the Disney and Saks Fifth Avenue unveiling of “Disney Frozen 2” holiday windows on Nov. 25, 2019, in New York City.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Each Christmas season, the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue are a draw for thousands. While this tradition of holiday window dressing is believed to have begun with Macy’s around the mid-1800s, Saks has been designing holiday windows for over 100 years.

Even though I was born and raised in New York City, I didn’t know about these elaborate holiday window unveilings that have been in existence for years, which includes the closing of busy Fifth Avenue abutting Rockefeller Center when Saks is involved.

This year’s event occurred on Nov. 25, with ribbon dancers, a chorus of 50, and a performance by Idina Menzel, chanteuse of “Let It Go” fame and the voice of Elsa. Afterward, fireworks exploded off the roof, while an elaborate light show made the storefront dazzle. This year, Saks is working in partnership with Disney, and it shows in all the best ways possible.

I decided to see this Frozen extravaganza for myself, during the recent noreaster, thinking it would deter the usual maddening crowds, so I could actually see, experience and enjoy the Frozen 2 activities. I was right. Umbrella in hand, I began by watching the light show.

As a clock in the middle of a castle counted down, I waited in anticipation. It was set to intermingled tunes, beginning with “Joy to the World,” “Let It Go,” a snippet of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker,” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

A castle of lights covered the building, dripping with icicles and changing light, which included autumn hues. Especially beautiful and specific to Frozen 2, were the three curving winter trees, comprised of lights embracing the ground floor windows like ever-changing winter lights.

I then went on to examine the six windows dedicated to Frozen 2.

From left to right, the first shows Elsa in purple wonder reveling in her magic, depicted as swirls.

A jumping Olaf, his segmented self wrapped in a tree is in the second space and represents the element of Wind.

Elsa looks as fierce as a Nordic Xena warrior princess in window 3, which was reserved for another element in Frozen 2: Fire. Bruni, who looks like an adorable purple dragon, sits in the center.

In contrast, window 4 features the Water Spirit, the Norse god Nøkk, a fearless horse emerging from the foam of a deadly wave.

Anna dominates in window 5, as well as the Earth giants or trolls, comprised of shifting boulders, representing the element of Earth. Kristoff and Sven are also in this window, but in very diminutive sizes.

In the last window, Elsa is seen in all her glory, robed in white and surrounded by diamond crystals, as she has now realized who she is and from where she comes. Finally, she has discovered the fifth element of Unity.

The other windows are for the most part filled with Saks fashion. Yet, there seems to be a nod to the Frozen 2, as the lighting drifts from a lovely dusky blue to indigo, the colors of winter in the North.

The fashions are set in underground caves, where gems and crystals sparkle. Some are in a mineshaft with tracks. In one a stray spray paint can for graffiti is funny, as it includes an urban twist. A few have the models decked in silver dresses, perhaps a nod to Elsa’s wardrobe?

But there is even more Frozen 2 to explore inside with the Enchanted Forest Experience. There is an entrance fee of $5 is for the exhibit, which runs through Christmas Eve, with proceeds donated to New York-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital. Tickets can be obtained on show­clix.com. Kids are guaranteed to love it, and I have to admit, so did I.

The Enchanted Forest Experience is an immersive trip, where you follow the journey of Elsa and the Frozen gang’s footprints. It begins with a walk through a forest of black and white birches. The first room includes a video introduction telling about the journey you will embark on and explains, “You can learn from the past or make the future better.”

As you move on, the mist of the Enchanted Forest stands out, as well as the spinning golden, amber, and titian leaves depicting the wind spirit, Gale. There is a room for each of the four elements found in the movie. One must pass through each to find the answers Elsa is searching for.

When you reach the room of reflection, you have reached understanding. Here is the unity snowflake, as you stand immersed in diamond crystals that drip from the ceiling.

In the final room are a live Elsa and Anna to greet you and a photographer to document the moment.

One of the staff told me, “The best part is leaving a smile on kids’ faces, knowing they will take this feeling with them.”

There is a lot of Frozen 2 merchandise for sale at Saks, and it can also be ordered online. Some of the products are fun and practical, including clothing, backpacks and water bottles, while others are luxurious limited editions, such as Roberto Coin’s Diamond and Dolls for a mere $30,000. This limited edition doll set features Elsa, Anna, and Olaf, outfitted in sparkling gems.

If you cannot get to the city, you can see the film Frozen 2 in your area, which is a must in any case. Saks’ website has a video of the kickoff performance, but if you do happen to be in New York, I enthusiastically recommend that you immerse yourself in the Frozen frenzy on Fifth!

This article originally appeared in the December 13, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Victoria Hofmo

Victoria Hofmo was born, raised, and still lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the historical heart of Norwegian New York. She is 3/4 Scandinavian: 1/2 Norwegian and 1/4 Danish/Swedish. Self-employed, she runs an out-of-school-time program that articulates learning through the arts. Hofmo is an advocate for arts and culture, education, and the preservation of the built and natural environment of her hometown, with a love for most things Scandinavian.