Living Windows Festival Brings Holiday Spirit to The District

The buzz of the holidays was all around Columbia’s downtown District during the Living Windows Festival. Businesses dressed up their window displays with traditional holiday themes, with many featuring live performances. People strolling through The District were also treated to shops passing out holiday snacks and hot chocolate with the sound of Christmas carolers filling the air.

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People crowd along 9th Street to enjoy the creative holiday displays in shops’ windows. Ninth Street is lined with art galleries, specialty shops, local restaurants, and coffee houses, popular spots for college students to hangout.

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“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” are lyrics to a popular holiday song, but also a tradition at The University of Missouri. The Center for Agroforestry, part of Mizzou’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, pass out samples of their holiday roasted chestnuts, grown at their research farm in New Franklin, Mo.  Mike Gold, associate director of the center said, “In our experience, nothing draws a crowd like the smoky, sweet smell of fresh roasted chestnuts in the cold months.”

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Elves in the “North Pole Sewing Lab” are stitching up some chic wintertime clothes in one of the boutiques along Broadway.

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From Holiday angels with puppies to dancing Brady’s (from The Brady Bunch), a fun mixture of different holiday scenes are played out in the windows. With many of the windows featuring not only a popular holiday theme, but also  charities that people can dontae to, like the well-known Make a Wish Foundation.

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With The District and Mizzou campus right next to each other, Tiger Pride was a theme of several window displays. Featured here is one of America’s best places to get pizza! Shakespeare’s pizza won “Good Morning America’s” challenge for “Best Bites Challenge: College Edition”, a contest that sought out the best college food in America! Shakespeare’s draws visitors from other towns and other states, all for the purpose of getting a taste of one of America’s best pizzas!

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The new City of Columbia City building sits along Broadway, housing the offices of Columbia’s Mayor and City Council.

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The historic Boone County National Bank and newly renovated Tiger Hotel offer a festive sight as people make their rounds to see all the holiday decorations lining The District.post photo 7

A  popular draw to The District is Shakespeare’s Pizza, which besides always serving up a spectacular pizza, also offers one of the most distinctive lighting displays in The District.

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Some of the most interesting sites took place outside the windows. A muscial, flute-playing Santa serenades people with holiday tunes as they enjoy the evening. Musicians and carolers lined the streets performing classic holiday music for people to enjoy.

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As the festivities wind down, people make their way to coffee houses to warm up with some hot chocolate or coffee after a chilly evening out. One of the most popular coffee houses, especially for college students is Kaldi’s Cafe. Kaldi’s is one of numerous coffee houses that offer people relief from the cold by passing out hot chocoloate and coffee.

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No outing in The District is complete without a visit to The University of Missouri’s historic columns in front of Jesse Hall.  Perhaps one of the most photographed locations on Mizzou’s campus, a visit to the columns  is the perfect end to a cool, festive evening out with friends and family.

Photo by Paul T. Bellinger, Jr.

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