Historically, downtown has been the center of holidays. There’s the Grand Tree Lighting at Riverfront Park, The Nutcracker at the Fox theatre, Santa’s Arrival at River Park Square and Christmas Tree Elegance at the Davenport Hotel. This season, one tradition that’s been missing for more than three decades—the elaborate animated Christmas window displays from the Crescent Department Store, will again take its place among the festivities.
When the Crescent closed in the mid-80s, the displays were put into storage. Over the years, some found their way to other stores, were sold at auction or just otherwise went missing. Elisabeth Hooker, marketing and program manager for the Downtown Spokane Partnership, would often receive calls during the holidays asking about the whereabouts of the displays. After doing a little digging, she found many of the figures abandoned and forgotten in the basements of the Crescent and nearby Lincoln Building garage.
With help from community volunteers, experts in fabric arts and electrical motors and circuits, a mission was made to refurbish the dozens of holiday-themed figures and props. At some point, Santa and his elves, along with a host of whimsical woodland creatures, had been through a flood and were in dire need of repainting and cleaning—the rust was so bad, they couldn’t even move.
“We’ve talked to a number of individuals who used to work dressing the windows at the Crescent who’ve been able to give us a little reference,” Hooker says. More than 500 hours went into the restorations, with assistance from Umpqua Bank and the Davenport Collection.
From now through New Year’s Day, six specially constructed windows at the Davenport Grand (facing Main Avenue) will come to life with charming theatrical scenes, including Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, an enchanted forest filled with industrious beavers, magical reindeer and Maury the Moose, and the Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy and twirling ballerinas from the Nutcracker Suite.
“As downtown experiences its revitalization, bringing back this piece of history and giving this gift to the community is vitally important,” Hooker says. “To those who remember growing up and seeing these displays in the windows, but for their children and grandchildren to have the same memories and create new traditions.”