Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
December 12th, 2017

A Peek Into Christmas Windows

Recently, I traveled to my hometown to visit my mother. As I drove down Lawrence Avenue, the main street in town, I looked at the building that was JC Penney when I was growing up. My eye fixated on the one corner window that faced the traffic coming down the sidewalk.

I could still see the vivid image in my mind of the animated Frosty the Snowman that was in that window when I was a kid. He would dance, melt and then re-inflate. I can tell you one thing … as I tugged on my mom’s arm, we never passed that store without going inside.

This ride down Lawrence Avenue made me ponder. Here I am, involved in an industry that enables people to look out of their dwellings and take in the outside view. But windows are so much more. They also enable the inhabitants of the home or building to share their joyful view of the world with those who pass by their dwelling or place of business. The Christmas window is a great example.

Christmas windows are displays prepared just for the Christmas shopping season at department stores and other retailers. Retailers around the world are especially noted and some become famous for their Christmas windows, and as a result they often become tourist attractions. These Christmas windows are centered around a theme and usually employ robotic devices to emulate a human or an animal to bring the display to life.

Macy’s established the practice in its New York City store with an animated shop window that made its debut in 1883. Businesses, employing designers, carpenters, welders, sculptors, painters and mechanical animators, have even sprung up as a result.

An example is Spaeth Design Inc., operating in New York City. Spaeth Design is well known for constructing Christmas windows for clients such as Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Home Depot, NBC and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Tom Keogh designed the annual Christmas windows for Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris during the late 1940s and early 1950s. In Melbourne, Australia, the Myer department store began presenting an annual Christmas window display in 1956, and over the years have featured not only nativity scenes but also children’s stories such as The Christmas Story and the 12 days of Christmas. Even the Grinch got into the act with one theme centered around How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Timeout has a pictorial feature showing some of the best Christmas window displays in New York. Check them out here.

So, enjoy the season, and with all of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to take time to stop, catch a breath and perhaps gaze into a Christmas window. The views are free, and they will leave a lasting impression in the minds of the little ones and upon you as well.

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