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NOVEMBERWEDNESDAY
27-28, 2013
THE NATION’S NEWS
A musical
from the heart
Jennifer Hudson, Forest
Whitaker admit they were
nervous in “Black
Nativity,” 1D
uStars say faith,
family essential, 2D
HOLIDAY
DAN MACMEDAN, USA TODAY
NEWSLINE
U.S. challenges
China over
air space
B-52s fly over
claimed air defense zone in joint
exercise with
Japan; ships to
arrive today. 5A
Tony
Romo
Thanksgiving
game previews
Thursday’s matchups
have playoff
implications
1-2, 6C
Travelers face
messy wintry mix
Experts predict busiest air
travel day since 2007 as
rain heads for East, snow
targets Great Lakes. 3A
Don’t forget
auto malls on
Black Friday
Car makers, dealers join in
the deal frenzy to clear
2013 models. 1B
Men’s Wearhouse
turns tables on
Jos. A. Bank
Apparel retailer bids $55a-share for rival that tried
to take it over. 1B
Thanksgiving
take-out tradition
gaining ground
More families find storeprepared meals means
more family time. 3B
NEWS PHOTOS
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USA SNAPSHOTSВ©
Burning off
the pumpkin pie
Fully timed Thanksgiving road
races with the most finishes in 2012:
Silicon Valley Turkey Trot
(San Jose)
Thanksgiving Day 10K
(Cincinnati)
19,951
PHOTOS BY USA TODAY SPORTS
How balloons
and pageantry
come together
12,509
Source RunningUSA.org
ANNE R. CAREY AND VERONICA BRAVO, USA TODAY
Gregory Korte
and Fredreka Schouten
USA TODAY
Laura Petrecca
@LauraPetrecca
USA TODAY
MOONACHIE , N. J. There are long
wooden tables. Workers sanding
and sweeping. A garland-clad locomotive, a wonderfully unusual rocking horse, a row of gingerbread men
and a hearty Christmas tree
wrapped in lights.
Visitors might think they’re at a
certain North Pole workshop.
But this is North Jersey.
With its sprawling highways,
noisy truck traffic and used-car
dealerships, the area here is more
Tony Soprano than Santa Claus.
Once inside this cavernous workshop, though, the gritty environment disappears.
A large green dragon with outspread wings dangles over welders,
woodworkers and 27-foot orca
whales. Nearby, a catapult shoots off
rainbow-hued confetti.
This is Macy’s Parade Studio, the
place where the magic of the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day parade begins.
On Thursday, about 50 million
Americans are likely to tune into at
least part of the parade, which is not
only a family tradition for many, but
LAURA PETRECCA, USA TODAY
SpongeBob SquarePants will trade sea for sky Thursday. The balloon is four stories tall, п¬Ѓve taxi cabs wide and needs 90 handlers.
also the unofficial kickoff to the
holiday season.
A man in a bright turquoise shirt
and red suspenders creates rope
netting for the new Cirque du Soleil
float. Another man perched high on
a ladder patches up imperfections
in the wood-carved waves for the
SeaWorld float.
Asked what kind of machine can
v STORY CONTINUES ON 2A
Cybergrinches are on the prowl
Mobile devices,
social media are top
targets for scams
Byron Acohido
@ByronAcohido
�Tis the season for cyberscams — and it’s stacking up to be
one of unprecedented plunder for
cybergrinches.
Crooks go where the money is, and
cybercriminals are concentrating
SEATTLE
STATE-BY-STATE 6A
their cleverness this year on mobile
devices and social media.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
are just around the corner, so cybercriminals have begun to flood e-mail,
social media postings and search results with tainted web links, offers
for worthless products and pitches
for all variety of scams.
“All these things have something
in common: social engineering and
greed,” says Sorin Mustaca, security
analyst at anti-malware п¬Ѓrm Avira.
The bad guys count on one in 10
recipients of holiday-themed phishing lures to click on a poisoned link
or п¬Ѓll out a bogus form.
They’ve been planning all year for
this. Messaging security п¬Ѓrm Proofpoint says e-mail carrying faked de-
The Obama administration, facing accusations that the
IRS unfairly targeted Tea Party
groups, proposed new restrictions on
the ability of tax-exempt groups to
participate in elections.
The Treasury Department proposed rules Tuesday that would limit
groups of all political stripes from
running ads, distributing mailers targeting specific candidates or organizing get-out-the-vote drives. It’s
unlikely that any regulation would be
in place before the 2014 congressional elections.
The IRS admitted in May that it
had held up groups seeking exemptions solely because they had “Tea
Party” or “patriots” in their names.
Tea Party groups denounced the
proposal. Jay Sekulow, an attorney
representing 41 such groups suing
the IRS, called it “a feeble attempt by
the Obama administration to justify
its own wrongdoing with the IRS
targeting.”
Social welfare groups funded
by anonymous donors reported
$256.3 million in political spending
in 2012, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics. That’s up from
$82.7 million in 2008.
The proposal avoids one of the
most controversial issues: how much
political activity — however it’s defined — a group can engage in before
threatening its tax-exempt status.
“It’s clear that the IRS is treading
slowly into the waters, knowing that
it’s fraught with peril, and that they
are starting to get ideas from people,
which is exactly what they should be
doing,” said Donald Tobin, a law professor at Ohio State University.
IRS officials told congressional investigators they applied a “facts and
circumstances” test to decide whether activities were political. The proposal would replace that test with
objective criteria. For example, any
mention of a candidate within 60
days of an election would be considered political, regardless of context.
The issue isn’t speech, watchdog
groups say. It’s about disclosure.
The proposal “provides hope that
the IRS is going to shut down a huge
loophole that has allowed political
organizations to spend hundreds of
millions of dollars without disclosing
their donors,” said Paul Ryanof the
Campaign Legal Center, which has
sued the IRS to clamp down on political activity by tax-exempt groups.
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., who
chairs the House committee that
writes tax laws, said the proposal
“smacks of the administration trying
to shut down potential critics.”
WASHINGTON
Artists float on air
just to be a part of
storied NYC event
14,862
13,416
Conservatives
call Treasury
plan �feeble’
Ben Roethlisberger
MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Manchester (Conn.)
Road Race
Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot 8K
(Buffalo, N.Y.)
IRS MAY
LIMIT
GROUPS’
ACTIONS
NFL WEEK 13
livery confirmations and order
notices purporting to be from FedEx,
UPS, DHL, Amazon, eBay, WalMart,
Target and ToysRus have already begun to swell. Clicking on the enclosed
links turns over control of your computer to the attacker.
“We’re human: we’re compelled to
click,” says David Knight, Proofpoint
executive vice president. “And we’re
even more human during the holiday
season.”
Phishing attacks — faked e-mail
carrying tainted Web links — are expected to spike in coming weeks, purporting to come from shipping
companies, says Bob Pratt, vice president of product management at antiv STORY CONTINUES ON 2A
MARKETPLACE TODAY 5B PUZZLES 2D USA MARKETS 4B WEATHER 10B WHAT TO WATCH 5D
YOUR SAY 9A
THE HOTTEST THING
IN BREAKFAST
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USA TODAY
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2013
NEWS 2A
Masterminds and people power fuel the magic
v CONTINUED FROM 1A
turn planks of wood into such a
smooth, rounded wave shape, Studio
Vice President John Piper smiles and
says he’ll show visitors such a “machine” — and points to the worker on
the ladder.
These men are among the 28 fulltime studio employees who create
and care for the dozens of balloons
and floats that will bask in the spotlight Thursday.
These painters, carpenters, sculptors, welders and engineers bring
fantastical ideas — such as a supersize Spider-Man balloon or an intricate Mount Rushmore-themed float
— into a towering reality.
They do large-scale construction
and fine-detail artistry. They camouflage the floats’ massive hinges with
meticulous painting and brainstorm
how to get three-story structures
through the Lincoln Tunnel and up
to the parade’s staging area on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
They organize parade components
for the trip to Manhattan, get them
set up for showtime and then haul
everything back out again.
Beginning Wednesday afternoon
and working through the night, these
staffers — along with other Macy’s
employees, temporary studio workers and volunteers — will assemble
30 large floats and inflate 16 giant
balloons. They’ll get dozens of other
parade elements, such as that confetti-shooting catapult, ready to go for
the 9 a.m. parade start.
Then, after it all winds its way
through the 21вЃ„2-mile parade route
from 77th Street along Central Park
West and down 6th Avenue to Macy’s
Herald Square at 34th Street and 7th
Avenue, they deflate, disassemble, repack and haul everything back to
New Jersey.
The studio workers return to their
families just about the time most
Americans are digesting their second
helping of pumpkin pie.
“We go home and collapse,” says
design studio director Jerry Ospa.
BALLOON BASICS
Macy’s first introduced a giant parade balloon in 1927 with Felix the Cat. This year's cast of 15 giant characters includes
a new, four-story-tall Santa-hat-clad SpongeBob SquarePants. How a drawing becomes a balloon:
1
2
SKETCH
Hand-drawn sketches
and computer renderings
are made.
5
MINI REPLICAS
A miniature replica of the
exact balloon shape is
constructed from clay. In
most cases, a half-inch
represents one foot in the
actual balloon size.
FINAL TESTS
New balloons are ready about a
month before the parade. They are
checked to be sure the inflation
ports, deflation ports and handling
lines are in the right place. They
undergo indoor and outdoor flight
tests, inflation and deflation tests
and final touch-ups before making
their public debut.
SPONGBOB
BY THE
NUMBERS
4
Stories high
3
The clay model is used to
create subsequent
models. Typically, one of
those models is marked
up with technical
information, such as
where the balloon lines
and inflation ports will
go, and another is
painted in the same hues
that are planned for the
actual balloon.
90
Balloon
handllers
FABRIC PATTERNS
4 Giant reams of
7
polyurethane-coated fabric
are patterned, cut and
heat-sealed to create
multiple chambers forming
the character’s head, body
and limbs.
Taxi cabs
wide
Reported by Laura Petrecca; Sources: Macy’s, Raven Aerostar, Mustacheagency.com
ANNE CAREY AND KARL GELLES, USA TODAY
EYE OUT FOR BIG TROUBLE
As the clock ticks down, the pressure
ratchets up. The parade is a high-profile event for Macy’s and the organizations that sponsor balloons and
floats.
Any big hitches can have devastating consequences. In 1997, winds
drove a Cat in the Hat balloon into a
metal pole. The ensuing damage left
a woman in a coma for almost a
month before she recovered. In
2005, an M&M balloon knocked over
a streetlight, injuring two sisters.
This year, there is contention
swirling around two floats.
Animal rights activists are upset
with a SeaWorld float, which features
two large orcas. They claim SeaWorld
doesn’t treat its whales well.
And ranchers were riled up that
singer Joan Jett was slated to perform on the South Dakota tourism
float, saying the vegetarian and animal-rights activist wasn’t a good representative for their beef-producing
state. She’s off the float, but she’ll still
be in the parade.
Parade studio workers are more
involved with putty and polyurethane than political flaps, but they
have to worry about other brewing
issues — such as wind, rain or other
harsh weather.
“We prepare for the worst and we
hope for the best,” Ospa says.
They must deal with whatever
comes on Thursday, says studio Vice
President Piper. “This is the day,” he
says. “It can’t be moved inside and
there is no change of date.”
PARADE’S STORIED HISTORY
The festivities have greatly evolved
from the first Macy’s Christmas Parade on Thanksgiving Day in 1924.
That one had four bands, floats
with themes such as the Old Lady in
the Shoe and Little Miss Muffet, and
Central Park Zoo animals, according
to Robert Grippo, author of Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“It was a big hullabaloo,” he says.
This year, there will be 16 huge
balloons, 36 smaller balloons, 30 fullsize floats, 11 marching bands, 900
clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders and
dancers.
More than 50 million people saw
at least part of the parade on TV last
year. About 3.5 million watched it
live.
phishing company Agari.
Agari’s analysis of billions of e-mail
messages shows faked shipping company e-mails increased 62% in the
third quarter over the second quarter. Based on historical patterns, the
volume of faked shipping company email messages can be expected to
double this quarter compared to the
third quarter, because “there’s a lot
more cover for bad guys to take advantage,” Pratt says.
Holiday shopping has come to
mean fielding “likes” from our Facebook friends, and using our smartphones and touch tablets to hunt for
bargains and make purchases. That
all translates into a gift-wrapped bonanza for the bad guys.
“We tend to trust our mobile devices because nobody else can touch
IDEAS PLUCKED FROM THIN AIR
In the stressful weeks leading up to
the parade, several workers here
make a proclamation you don’t hear
much these days: “I love my job.”
“It’s the best place to work as a
craftsman,” says painter and head
scenic artist Beth Lucas, who joined
the studio in 1984.
These people spend all year working on the Thanksgiving Day parade,
but they also squeeze in other duties,
such as making props for the Macy’s
Flower Show, the Fourth of July п¬Ѓreworks and in-store Christmas events.
Working closely together has
formed a bond, making them much
more than co-workers, Lucas says.
“I call them my brothers,” she says,
gesturing to the men around her.
On Friday, studio workers will
gather in the third-floor costume department to share a catered Thanksgiving meal. Everyone will “talk
about what transpired, the positives
and negatives, and say, �Couldn’t we
do this next year?’” says parade executive producer Amy Kule. “The ideas
start percolating.”
With each year, the crew’s skills
improve, says balloon technician
Artle.
The workers here care about their
craft and the other craftspeople.
“When a new person comes in, the
old hands, so to speak, take them under their wing,” he says.
Soon, everyone feels like family.
Artle has Lou Gehrig’s disease.
When it progressed to the point that
he had to use a wheelchair, studio
workers went to his home and built a
ramp.
“When one of us gets cut,” he says,
“we all bleed.”
On Thursday, he and Sandy will
take on new roles: parade spectators
rather than workers.
“It’s been one hell of a run,” Artle
says as the SpongeBob and Toothless
the dragon fly above.
“Of everything I’ve done in my life,
I don’t think I’ve done anything that
I’ve loved more than working on the
parade.”
Corrections & Clarifications
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ROBERT DEUTSCH, USA TODAY
The 72,000-square-foot Moonachie, N.J., facility, used since 2011, is big enough to construct towering
floats, fully inflate massive balloons and organize thousands of costumes.
Windy forecast
9 a.m. on NBC, three-hour
broadcast begins.
AccuWeather forecast:
Temperatures in the low 30s.
Winds at least 15-20 mph;
gusts up to 40 mph.
Balloons won't go up if sustained winds exceed 23 mph
and gusts exceed 34 mph.
For those who get to see it in person, it’s an amazing experience, says
Grippo.
“Everyone gets into the spirit of
this thing,” he says. “There’s a joy. For
three hours, you forget about the
problems of the world, the hectic
pace and the tension.”
From 1927 to 1983, the crowdwowing balloons such as Underdog
and Popeye were made by Goodyear
Tire & Rubber. Since then, parade
balloons have been produced by Macy’s and by Sioux Falls, S.D., manufacturer Raven Aerostar, which makes
most of the larger balloons.
The model for each giant balloon
begins as a lump of reddish-brown
clay that is sculpted into an exact
A STEP-BY-STEP LOOK
MORE ONLINE
See how balloons go from story
board to stories tall at usatoday.com.
scale model of the full-size balloon.
That design is used to create casts
that produce miniature replicas of
each new balloon. One replica is
marked up with technical information, such as where the inflation
ports and balloon lines will go. Another replica is painted in the exact
colors of the parade balloon.
Next, actual-size pieces are cut
from polyurethane-coated fabric and
heat-sealed to form the balloon’s
shape.
Learning how the balloons were
created “was magnificent,” says Jimmy Artle, who began his studio tenure in the early 1980s and was
trained by Goodyear engineers.
“They taught us every little nuance
about the balloons.”
He fell in love with the craft. Decades later, his craft helped him fall in
love.
Fourteen years ago, he had to repair the foot of the Big Bird balloon.
He asked an inflation crew volunteer
named Sandy to help because she
was small enough to п¬Ѓt into the balloon chamber with him.
“We spent about two hours in the
balloon and I don’t know why, but I
turned and kissed her,” he says. “She
kissed back and we’ve been together
ever since.”
ROOM FOR CREATIVITY
Like many studio workers, Artle
began in the previous workspace, a
former Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken, N.J., that housed the team from
1968 to 2010. It moved to the 72,000square-foot Moonachie building in
2011.
The new facility is a space big
enough to construct towering floats,
fully inflate massive balloons and organize thousands of costumes.
Pieces of past year’s parade props,
such as big M&M candy characters
and a gigantic keyboard, are part of
the new studio’s decor. There are also
the 2- to 3-foot models of past balloons — Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Kung Fu Panda and Garfield
among them — which dangle from
overhead wires, and dozens of float
models lined up on shelves.
Workers here use the same line
when asked about the techniques
Good for holiday consumers to be skeptical
v CONTINUED FROM 1A
used to blow up the balloons. “We
never �blow up’ balloons, we �inflate’
them,” they say with a smile.
They’re also quick to share details
about their work techniques and to
relate some history.
Most of the floats and balloons begin with a simple line drawing that is
transformed into technical renderings and then a series of models.
Crouching by the metallic fringe
on a partly completed float, Piper offers up some history.
“Going back to medieval times,
they would cover the wheels of pageant wagons so you couldn’t see
them,” Piper says. “That’s where they
got their name. They’re floats because they come floating into view.”
it,” says Daniel Cohen, RSA cybersecurity strategist. “But our hyper-connectivity, together with a small
screen, make it easier for fraudsters
to come at us.”
And the cyberscammers are coming, drawn like zombies to live flesh.
Identity verification firm Signifyd
dissected 10 million transactions on
computing devices in the past six
months and found 25% of retail traffic coming from mobile devices. Of
that grouping, 10% originated from
tablets, 14% from smartphones.
At the moment, smartphones are
the least secure purchasing platform.
Signifyd discovered that 1.3% of ecommerce sales on phones are fraudulent, compared with 0.8% for sales
via desktops and 0.5% from tablets.
“Companies are trying to get the
mobile experience to be as frictionless as possible, so they’re putting
less checks at the point of checkout
to give the customer that terrific experience,” says Rajesh Ramanand,
Signifyd’s chief executive.
Consumers should use robust
passwords, pay close attention to
where sensitive information gets
stored and patronize only trusted
Web properties. And a healthy dose
of holiday skepticism also is in order.
“It’s OK to be a little paranoid,”
says Ronnie Flathers, of security consultancy Neohapsis. “Modern phishing techniques are subtle and
dangerous. It’s OK to mistrust e-mail
and links. If something seems phishy,
exit out.”
It’s also a good time to think about
privacy. On Monday, privacy solutions vendor Abine released version
3.0 of its acclaimed DoNotTrackMe
browser tool used by 2 million people
to block hidden tracking mecha-
nisms. This free service, and others
like it, such as AVG’s PrivacyFix and
Virtual World Computing’s Cocoon,
are powerful, though they require
you to give up a sliver of convenience.
A story Friday about California’s
health insurance exchange did not
make clear that the rate of 10,000
people a day who had п¬Ѓlled out applications referred only to the month of
November. The rate was lower in October, when the exchange п¬Ѓrst
opened.
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