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Join Gotham, the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, and Madison Avenue’s premier boutiques on Saturday, December 3 to shop for the holidays while supporting the pediatric programs of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Browse below to discover more about the 30th anniversary of Miracle on Madison Avenue, a map of where to shop, holiday memories from New York’s top tastemakers, and a gift guide featuring thoughtful presents for everyone on your list.

THIRTY YEARS OF WONDER

THIS YEAR’S MIRACLE ON MADISON AVENUE MARKS THREE DECADES OF FABULOUS PHILANTHROPY ON THE WORLD’S MOST GLAMOROUS SHOPPING AVENUE. 

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On Saturday, December 3, between 10 AM and 5 PM, over 80 stores and restaurants on Madison Avenue, from 57th to 86th Streets, will open their doors to festive New Yorkers. And, in the spirit of giving, those businesses will donate 20 percent of their sales to The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center—all thanks to Miracle on Madison Avenue.

Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, “Miracle on Madison Avenue is a true New York tradition,” notes Matthew Bauer, president of Madison Avenue Business Improvement District.

Martha Dupee and Helen “Noonie” Marx, who owned Thaxton & Company, a home furnishings boutique, founded the event in 1987 and asked stores to devote 20 percent of their sales on one day to charities serving underprivileged children in New York City. They set up the Madison Avenue Fund for Children and got to work.

“At the beginning it was always the first Sunday in December,” recalls Susan Bruder, who volunteered in the early years. Dupee, Marx, and their Madison Avenue Fund for Children were the heart of the event. “They’d go from store to store, convincing the owners to join. They were really gracious, tenacious—and never took ‘no’ for an answer. You never walked away from them before agreeing to do what they wanted you to do. And you felt good about it!

“Things really took off when Ralph Lauren opened his flagship store in the Rhinelander Mansion and he got involved,” she adds.

After about a decade of activity, over 160 luxury boutiques and restaurants participated in 1995 and 1996. Thousands of locals strolled the avenue, some, The New York Times reported, with dogs wearing “sweaters with gold buttons in the style of Chanel.” A dozen Santa Clauses cavorted on Bergdorf Goodman’s roof.

In 2012, Madison Avenue BID assumed leadership of the event and Children’s Aid Society became a partner and sole beneficiary. Miracle on Madison Avenue, which originally stretched between 57th and 72nd Streets, continued to expand, up to 86th Street. Bruder, who went on to plan the event for CAS, said tens of thousands of New Yorkers would stroll, dine, and shop, enjoying special offerings in various tents: spa treatments by Borghese in one, authors charming kids with their stories in another. And of course there were celebrities—stars from the Yankees, Bobby Short, and Tamara Tunie of Law & Order: SVU.
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LEFT: Miracle on Madison Avenue shoppers enjoy the festivities at Graff in 2013. RIGHT: The ribbon cutters at 2015’s event included (from left) Matthew Bauer, Sandra Lee, GreenGale Publishing CEO Katherine Nicholls, Lavinia Branca Snyder, Karen Zucker, and Judy Gordon Cox.

2016 marks the fifth year that The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the official partner and beneficiary, in support of its pediatric initiatives. Some 80 stores will participate and, as always, donate a fifth of their sales during the day. Many, Bauer notes, are long-term participants, including Bally, Armani, Fred Leighton, Coach, Lalique, Bonpoint, and Ralph Lauren.

Madison Avenue is no longer closed to traffic, but as always, carolers dressed in period looks will stroll the avenue, and chefs from local restaurants will offer signature dishes in the Taste of Madison Avenue tent. Free performances will be highlighted on two stages.

The newest pediatric initiative, says Lavinia Branca Snyder, president of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is clinical genomic profiling for pediatric cancer patients. “Genomic sequencing is one of the most promising areas in cancer research and treatment today,” she says. “The funding will help researchers and clinicians transform a one-size-fits all approach to one in which the genetic makeup of the patient and the tumor dictate the best therapeutic strategy. I am so deeply grateful that Miracle on Madison Avenue supports such an important cause.”

On a personal level, Snyder is also grateful. For 24 years, she and her family have lived in an apartment where the sitting room windows overlook Madison Avenue. When her daughter was a young girl, they loved hearing the holiday music and attending the street fair. “It makes the entire season so joyful,” says Snyder. “[She] would grin with anticipation when she knew the season was approaching… and the magic was about to begin.”