Queens resident and artist Keith Lapinig won Macy's Great American Elf Adventure competition this week with Gazer the Elf who is a "wish shepherd" --- an elf who ensures the safe delivery of children's whispered wishes via stars to Santa Claus.
The competition was an opportunity for artists to design a new character for the legendary Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Gazer beat out 1,000 other submissions to win the float contest on Macy's Facebook page.
Lapinig said that inspiration came from the Macy's star. Macy's founder R.H. Macy chose the star as the store's emblem in honor of the North Star that he said guided him back to shore after being lost at sea.
"I am flabbergasted at winning this contest," Lapinig said in a press release. "It's my dream and I want to thank all of the people who voted for me. I can honestly say that now I feel accomplished as an artist."
Artists at the Macy's Day Parade Studio will transform Lapinig's design into a balloon for the traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 24.
A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Lapinig majored in film and video editing. Lapinig also taught himself how to paint and airbrush, skills that he uses to create what he calls "Vinylmation" characters, which are designed similarly to "kidrobot" toys.
Lapinig has bigger goals including possibly turning his design and character into a children's book. A childhood Disney fan (he has every single Disney classic on VHS), he hopes to work for Disney as a creator. "I am hoping this project catches their eye," he said.
In the meantime, Lapinig will enjoy VIP seating while his 85-foot design floats down the streets of New York City.
His won't be the only new balloon this year. Artist and filmmaker Tim Burton will also introduce a new flotation called B. Boy this year. Designed in his trademark spooky style, B. Boy is the story of a balloon stitched together from leftovers at children's parties, reported E Online!
Inspired by a video of a free-flying balloon, B. Boy dreams from his dismal basement lair of taking flight one day, which he'll finally get to do in front of 3.5 million live viewers and 50 million TV viewers on Thursday morning.