A total of 19 stores in The District participated in the Living Windows Festival on Friday night to begin the holiday season.
Carolers, holiday musicians and Santa Claus, as well as free carriage rides, holiday open houses and a nativity scene could all be found downtown from 6 to 8 p.m.
Each participating store had its own theme to decorate their display windows. Employees, owners and even some of their children performed for the festival as passersby stopped and observed. Among the themes were “A Toy Story Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Wii” and “Fishing You a Merry Christmas.”
Maude Vintage manager Nikki Pyatt explained how the store came up with its idea. Maude did a spinoff of Edward Gorey’s 1963 book “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” Pyatt said.
“Everyone who works at the store really likes Edward Gorey and took inspiration from his ‘Gashlycrumb Tinies,’” Pyatt said.
But instead of all the children dying like they do in the book, they partook in mischievous acts.
“O is for Oscar who had very bad posture,” Pyatt read to the crowds standing outside of Maude Vintage’s display window. A store employee, dressed in 19th-century garb, acted as Oscar with a hunchback in grand, exaggerated gestures. Pyatt went through the entire alphabet in this fashion.
Maude Vintage’s display this year won second place in the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Living Windows Festival rankings. Pyatt said her favorite Living Window theme was Lady Gaga a few years ago.
“The theme was ‘Strutting Your Stuff,’ and we just danced for two hours,” she said.
Bluestem Missouri Crafts also took part in the festivities. The store, which has been in business for 28 years, has participated in the festival every year since it began, approximately 20 years ago. This year’s theme was “Candy Land,” featuring the store’s owner Sandy Litecky as cotton candy.
There were eight people in Bluestem’s living window display, most of whom were the children of the store’s employees. Among the cast were King Kandy, played by Jacob Rey, age 9, and his little sisters who played Princess Lolly as well as Lord Licorice and Mr. Mint. The kids were compensated for their time with candy.
“My mom asked me to do it and at first, I really didn’t want to do it,” Jacob said, still wearing his painted-on King Candy mustache.
But he said he eventually gave in and said he will do it again next year if he likes the theme.
Next door to Bluestem was Makes Scents, whose theme was Disney’s “Toy Story.” In its windows were the human versions of Woody, Bo Peep, Jessie and Stinky Pete in his action figure box. These characters were also played by the owner’s children.
“All of the employees were brainstorming, and then one of them thought of 'Toy Story,' and we loved it,” Makes Scents owner Christina Kelley said.
This is Makes Scents’ fifth year participating in the festival. The store has won past awards from the Columbia Daily Tribune. Kelley said her favorite theme so far was “Hogwarts Christmas.”