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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Wednesday, December 12, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

After decades in storage, animatronic Christmas displays reemerge at the Davenport Grand Hotel

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 30, 2018, 10:39 p.m.

Jason Nix, 45, and his son, Otis, 10, share a moment as they visit the magic of the Crescent holiday window displays unveiled Friday night, Nov. 30, 2018, at The Davenport Grand Hotel. Restoration work by the Downtown Spokane Partnership, volunteers and the Davenport Hotels have cleaned up the old four displays viewable in six windows along Main Avenue. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Jason Nix, 45, and his son, Otis, 10, share a moment as they visit the magic of the Crescent holiday window displays unveiled Friday night, Nov. 30, 2018, at The Davenport Grand Hotel. Restoration work by the Downtown Spokane Partnership, volunteers and the Davenport Hotels have cleaned up the old four displays viewable in six windows along Main Avenue. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Nova Kelly, 8, gazed at the animatronic deer, rabbits and moose moving in a winter scene behind a window of The Davenport Grand Hotel.

It’s the same display that her grandmother stared at more than 50 years ago.

“My feet are where her feet were,” the 8-year-old said. “Now that is weird.”

Kelly was one of about 50 people who came to the reveal of the six Christmas window displays Friday night. Half a century ago, the spectacle of intricate mechanics and Christmas magic drew crowds of thousands.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership pulled together volunteers to fix up the old displays, which have been collecting dust in the basement of the Crescent Building – an early and iconic Spokane department store – at Riverside Avenue and Wall Street.

Jesse Tinsley

“For those who grew up and knew the department store, it was the premier place for Christmas displays,” said Elizabeth Hooker, marketing and program director for the DSP. “Going to the Davenport Grand will be like going to the Crescent building for the next generation.”

Lauren Wittstruck hadn’t seen the displays in decades, but remembers going to the Crescent every year as a child to see them.

“I think our noses were just pressed against the glass. We were always looking for something new in the displays,” she said. “This is a big treat for us.”

The Crescent department store opened in 1889, a day after the great fire that year burned down half the city. Because the Crescent building was made out of brick, it survived. It moved locations several times until it landed at the corner of Riverside and Wall, where it thrived as a staple in Spokane’s shopping scene. In 1988, the Crescent’s name was changed after changing ownership years earlier.

Jonna Kelly, Nova’s mom, is a volunteer who helped restore the old displays to make them look museum-quality. She said there are plenty more displays that they plan on fixing up and putting in the windows in coming years.

“It’s going to take a lot more volunteers to get them out,” she said, but she’s confident it will happen. “People are craving these types of things.”

The six displays include a Nutcracker scene, a North Pole scene, sugarplum fairies and a forest creature scene – Nova Kelly’s favorite because of the animals.

“I like them because they’re furry,” she said. “It has bunnies and stuff.”


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Top stories in Spokane

News >  Spokane

Spokane County commissioners open union contract negotiations to the public

UPDATED: 10:19 p.m.

updated  The move means members of the public and media will be able to witness the collective bargaining process in real time, even though state law allows that process to take place in private meetings. “Salaries are our largest cost, and the citizens ought to know how we’re negotiating contracts and how we’re trying to represent the best interests of both the taxpayers and our employees,” Commissioner Al French said.