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Akron area natives make appearance in Macy’s parade

11/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Chris Lipari, Jennie Berlin and Marni Halasa are shown from left on the Delta Airlines Winter Wonderland in Central Park float that they appeared on in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 22.
Mel and Frances Lipari, who live in West Akron, had the chance to the see their son Chris Lipari on TV during the airing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Photos courtesy of Chris Lipari
NEW YORK CITY— Marni Halasa and Chris Lipari started out skating on frozen ponds in Akron. Now they can say they’ve skated before millions as part of the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Halasa, originally from Bath, is a 1984 Revere High School graduate, and Lipari, a native of West Akron, graduated from Firestone High School in 1978. The two appeared as ice skaters on one of the final floats in this year’s parade, which took place Nov. 22.

Both have had careers that have put them in the spotlight, but being in the parade was a unique thrill, they said.

“It was on my bucket list,” said Lipari, a Manhattan resident who danced and skated professionally for many years. “It’s fun to be part of such a huge New York, American tradition. I always loved being in parades as a kid, and I was in marching band at Firestone High School and Miami University.”

“It felt amazing,” added Halasa, who also lives in New York City. “For me, once I see thousands of people, I feel like I’m home. I just loved it; the energy was great. You feel like as a performer you bring such joy to people. Everyone is there smiling and waving and clapping.”

Lipari, who now has his own production company, said he is friends with Amy Kule, the parade’s executive producer. Last year, Kule gave him access to watch the parade from the grandstand, and he saw the Delta Airlines float with ice skaters on it. He asked if he could be considered to be on the float this year, and he was hired to put it together.

Halasa said she and Lipari didn’t know each other growing up in Akron, although they skated at some of the same rinks. The two of them met about 10 years ago.

Lipari asked Halasa, who teaches figure skating, to also appear on the float, and she recruited one of her students, 11-year-old skater Jennie Berlin, to join them. Lipari choreographed the 90-second routine for the Winter Wonderland in Central Park float, which featured a synthetic ice surface.

“We just skated as if we were in a park, having a good time,” Lipari said of his choreography.

They were clothed in colorful Dickensian-era costumes, he added.

Halasa said she was happy that the float got quite a bit of airtime when it was shown at 11:55 a.m. that day, right before the final float that carried Santa Claus.

“We got a minute and four seconds of airtime, which is huge,” she said.

Lipari said his parents, Mel and Frances Lipari, of West Akron, were in Virginia visiting family for the holiday, and they watched the parade on TV.

He added he was amazed at the size of some of the floats that appear in the annual event.

“They have to be built on the street,” he said. “They can’t be trucked in. When you see them up close, you see how large they really are.”

Halasa has previously appeared on TV and in movies as a skater and has choreographed skating scenes for the Broadway musical “Elf,” as well as a rollerblading scene in the movie “Enchanted.” She said she has made a name for herself in New York as a “parade personality” who appears in many of the city’s biggest events on roller blades and wearing fairy wings. But none of the other events she’s been in can top her Thanksgiving Day parade experience.

“Usually I’m exhausted afterwards because I give out so much energy, but I could have done this parade route another 10 times,” she said.

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