For the past 27 years, if you strolled into Memorial Sloan Kettering’s basement corridor during December, you would find the MSK Facilities Team, including carpenters, plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, mechanics, and painters using their own time to create a beautiful holiday wonderland and spreading cheer to staff and patients alike. The holiday hallway debuted in 1993 and continues to be a labor of love for MSK’s Facilities staff, who give of themselves to create this magical MSK tradition. This ever-growing display of holiday cheer even caught the attention of NBC’s Today show — in 2019, host Hoda Kotb shared the history behind MSK’s beloved tradition with the show’s viewers.
This year, Santa’s MSK helpers came to the rescue in more ways than one. Like most hospital staffs across the nation and around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MSK Facilities Management team worked around the clock in order to adapt areas of MSK to make necessary and critical COVID-19 accommodations. This included reconstructing MSK’s 18th floor to expand ICU capabilities, building a fully functional CT scan facility within the ICU, and transforming MSK’s lobby and conference spaces in the Rockefeller Research Laboratories to serve as COVID-19 testing and screening areas.
There is no question that the MSK Facilities team are some of the unsung heroes of MSK’s operations this year. Due to their willingness, hard work, and unmatched expertise, MSK’s patients (and staff) were able to be taken care of seamlessly throughout the ongoing pandemic. While the work this team does is mostly behind-the-scenes, their efforts make a huge impact for patients and staff.
New Year, New Hallway Traditions
Touched by the sentiment of the hallway, in 2019 Legoland New York made a donation to the MSK Facilities team so they could make future displays in the hallway bigger and brighter. With the donation given to them from Legoland, the team was able to add a mechanical Grinch, two new train sets, and a brand-new set of reindeer to this year’s display.
“This year has been tough on many people, but there was no question in our minds whether we would be doing the holiday hallway this year,” says James Imparato, General Manager of MSK’s Facilities Services and creator of the hallway. “This is a labor of love for us, and after what our staff has gone through this past year, we wanted to make this to bring joy and thank them for everything they do. It brings us such happiness.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed visitor access to the holiday hallway, the lights are still shining to bring holiday cheer to MSK staff. To ensure safety, MSK staff are required to practice appropriate social distancing and observe proper PPE and masking protocols when visiting the hallway, as we do in all areas of MSK.
“We’ve had to pivot and adapt so much this year; we are happy to continue the tradition of the ‘holiday hallway’ as a way to take care of MSK, the people who work here, and help where we can to take care of MSK’s patients and their families. We have so much pride in doing this, and the joy that comes with building this hallway is an everyday reminder of how special MSK really is. We have recruited a great group of young and creative tradesmen who will keep this tradition alive for a long, long time,” says Mr. Imparato.
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