Those classic hole-punched colorful dots were always so difficult to make. Perhaps that’s why some confetti throwers at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade decided to use shredded documents as confetti. But amid the blizzard of paper scraps that flurried down during last Thursday’s parade were some details that should never have been put into public hands – never mind let flutter through the streets of New York City.
Social security numbers, police detail assignments, and incident reports were all visible on the confetti strips dumped along the parade route at 65th and Central Park West on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, about a quarter-mile from the parade’s starting location.
Ethan Finkelstein, an 18-year-old Tufts University student, noticed a piece of confetti that fell on a friend’s coat. “It landed on her shoulder,” Finkelstein told PIX11 News. “It says ‘SSN’ and it’s written like a Social Security number, and we’re like, ‘That’s really bizarre.’” They proceeded to pick up other pieces of confetti that had fallen around them, finding license plate numbers, phone numbers, and even what appeared to be details about Mitt Romney’s motorcade from the second presidential debate held at Hofstra University on Long Island.
Though most of the scraps were unrelated and likely wouldn’t have led to identity theft or security breaches, it was disconcerting to many paradegoers that they were getting a look at private police details. One of the documents included in the confetti read NCPD – an acronym for the Nassau County Police Department.
“That would have to come from our headquarters,” a Nassau County police source told the New York Post. “They have stuff that’s supposed to be shredded and go to burn piles. It sounds like some of it ended up where it wasn’t supposed to be.” The department released a statement highlighting their concern about the document dump. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents,” according to Inspector Kenneth Lack.
According to Macy’s, the confetti may not have been officially issued by the parade. A spokesman for the department store told the New York Post that it uses “commercially manufactured, multicolored confetti, not shredded, homemade or printed paper of any kind in the parade.” At least they weren’t chucking whole sheets of confidential paper out the window like at this year’s Super Bowl parade for the New York Giants.