Saturday, November 12, 2011
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Downtown window displays offer a holiday delight

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[November 12, 2011]  If you didn't have time to make it downtown Friday evening to witness the lighting of the tree and view the downtown merchants' storefront window displays, you really did miss out on something special.

Friday evening, Santa made his first official visit to Lincoln. He did the honors of throwing the switch that lit up the tree on the courthouse lawn, then spent time helping sing Christmas carols and visiting with the children who had come out.

Afterward, he volunteered to be a part of the living window at the office of Main Street Lincoln, where the theme was "The Night Before Christmas."

After the lighting, a group of folks made their way around the downtown windows, looking at the lovely Christmas displays.

To their delight, all of the windows were exceptionally beautiful, and some of them offered something extra special: live characters acting out portions of their business's chosen Christmas theme song.

In addition to those walking around for the joy of it, there were three people whose job it was to judge each window and name the top three exhibits.

This year's judges were Alderwomen Marty Neitzel and Joni Tibbs, who are veteran judges for the downtown event, and a third and new judge, Jessica Hanson.

Hanson is the director of admissions for adult education at Lincoln Christian University and is also the wife of the assistant fire chief of the Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District, Nick Hanson.

At the end of their tour around town, the judges, downtown business owners and Main Street Lincoln volunteers were invited back to the Main Street office for a small get-together with lots of good food, beverages and good company.

The downtown stores closed at 7 p.m., and at 7:15 the winners of the window contest were announced.

The judges commented that once again this year, all the windows were lovely, and some of the choices they had to make were difficult.

With the criteria of judging they'd been given, they chose the first-place winner to be Mission Mart.

The criteria for judging were consistency with the theme song the store had chosen; creativity of the display; viewer appeal; and extra points for a live window where the activity going on helped to depict the theme.

Mission Mart had chosen the song "Away in a Manager," and they offered a fully live Nativity that even included live animals.

The scene included Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child; children dressed as animals; live rabbits; and a small goat that almost stole the show for everyone.

The roles of the Nativity were played by Rich and Job Fronts of Emden as Joseph and the Christ Child; Ashlynd Wilson, store manager Carol Wilson's daughter, of Williamsville, as Mary; 9-year-old Faith Stagnolia, 5-year-old Gracie Saylor and 9-year-old Kyleigh VanCleve, all of Lincoln; and 7-year-old Laci Miller of McLean.

Second place in the window display proved to be a tie between MKS Jewelers and the Main Street Lincoln office.

The MKS theme was "Deck the Halls," and in their window were two lovely young children, a boy and a girl, with the little boy passing ornaments to the girl as she hung them on a Christmas tree.

Main Street had a theme of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." On one side of their building front, a father sat in a rocking chair reading a book, while through the window, Santa and his reindeer can be seen flying through the air.

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On the other side, Santa is inside the house, leaving gifts for all, while in a small bed on the far side of the display, dolls depict children "nestled all snug in their beds."

The third-place prize went to Serendipity Stitches and Framing. The windows of the store were done in snowmen. The judges commented on the windows of the store, saying that every year they are absolutely beautiful.

The judges also offered a very honorable mention to the window at Abe's Carmelcorn, saying it, too, is lovely to look at.

Although they didn't win a prize, another crowd- pleaser was the window done by the National Honor Society. The theme of their window was "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

In their window, three participated: one playing Santa, one as a "regular" reindeer and the third as Rudolph. The characters acted out the song with their own dancing version of Santa coming to say: "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

According to Wanda Lee Rohlfs, executive director of Main Street Lincoln, the public will have at least one more opportunity to see the living windows, as participating merchants are being asked to do repeat performances the night of the Christmas parade.

In addition to the judging, there will also be a people's choice award later in the season. All those who visit the downtown area are encouraged to choose their favorite and cast a vote for that one to win the people's choice.

The winner of the popular vote will be announced on Dec. 17. To place a vote, visit the Main Street Lincoln office, or write down your selection and hand it to a downtown merchant.

The winners of the Friday night judging will each be given gift certificates to the downtown restaurant of their choice.


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