Dominican immigrant embraces New York tradition
By Jessica Meditz
At one point in his life, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was something Dominican-born Carlos Garcia admired from afar as a New York tradition.
Now, he can proudly say he is one of the thousands of people responsible for helping to make the historic parade a reality for another year.
Hailing from the city of Santiago, Garcia, 44, first emigrated to New York City in 2003. He now resides in the Bronx with his wife and six-month-old baby girl.
He landed his first job as a McDonald’s crew member in 2004, working at the 5th Ave & W 34th St. location in Manhattan — in front of the Empire State Building.
Garcia started his first role in the kitchen of McDonald’s, and while he was excited for the new experience, he said that some people in his life looked down on the company at the time.
“My family didn’t want me working at McDonald’s, because I think a lot of people think that something is wrong with it,” he said. “The people talking from the outside probably never worked at McDonald’s, and they never see the opportunities we have working there.”
With his curiosity for learning new things each day, Garcia wanted more for his career, and eventually took classes to learn more about how the restaurant operates.
He took classes to learn about how to work and repair equipment, electricity and more essentials to build his knowledge and work his way up in the company.
Garcia quickly climbed the ranks, and now works as a facility maintenance supervisor — overseeing a total of six McDonald’s locations in Queens: 159-40 Cross Bay Blvd., Howard Beach; 106-15 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 75-50 101st Ave., Ozone Park; 33-80 Queens Blvd. and 32-55 31st St., Long Island City; and 72-69 Kissena Blvd., Flushing.
He took a break from working in the restaurant for a day on Thanksgiving last week, and helped guide the well-loved Ronald McDonald balloon throughout the heart of Manhattan during the parade.
Garcia and other nominated McDonald’s crew members participated in the once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is part of McDonald’s Thank You Crew initiative.
The initiative recognizes crew members and managers for their dedication to their local communities.
“The employees are the ones who make it happen at our restaurants, so this initiative is recognizing our people and appreciating everything they do for us to keep the arches shined and our customers receiving fast, healthy and great-tasting food,” said Paul Goodman, owner/operator of various McDonald’s restaurants in New York.
He described the Thanksgiving Day Parade experience as an honor and memorable experience — something that was made for hardworking employees such as Garcia.
“He is probably one of the most dedicated, loyal employees I’ve ever seen. From the day I met him until today, he just impresses me more and more with his dedication and skill level,” Goodman said of Garcia.
“He is a gentleman, and probably the only negative I could say about him is that he doesn’t have the ability to say ‘no,’” he said jokingly. “Carlos is amazing and I’m extremely lucky to have him working for my company.”
While Garcia is a proud New Yorker and feels very much at home, this was the first time he visited the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“I’m very excited. I never did it before and I wanted to see the rare experience of being in the parade,” Garcia said.
“I want this one to be my first, but not my last. If it’s possible, I would go every year.”