Where does the holiday magic come from at our annual Open House? Does Santa bring it straight from the North Pole? Is the magic created by the hardworking folks in our community of shops and restaurants? Can you find the holiday magic simply by wishing for it?

Go behind the scenes of Open House to see what makes this night so special. Then join us tonight for all the fun!

Santa’s Secret

December is a big month for jolly old St. Nick; lots of children are vying for the chance to sit on his lap and share their Christmas wishes. For one special night, he joins us at Cameron Village to see who’s on the nice list! But his magical reindeer have to save their flying energy for the big night; so he heads our way in a horse-drawn carriage. He will parade down Cameron St. at 5:00 sharp, so be there early if you want to see him arrive! The best spots for viewing are  from Uniquities to Kannons Womens on Cameron Street, and from Uniquities to Village Draft House on Daniels Street. He’ll then sit in his high back chair at the meet-up space beside Cantina 18, making his list and sharing a hearty “Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas!” with everyone.

For the littlest Open House visitors, meeting him can be a little overwhelming. In his fuzzy red suit, Santa is an imposing presence, even with his gentle & kind smile. That’s why we love the fact that there’s no pressure when you meet him. Cameron Village guest Allison Strickland brought her kids, age 3 and 5, to meet Santa in 2016. “We loved it!” she says. “It was a perfect time to meet Santa – short line and free photo!” With no official photographer, there’s no pressure to stage the perfect moment. And the relaxed atmosphere shows in the genuine smiles on the kiddos faces. Pro tip – bring your own camera!

Window Dressing

Sonya Probst is an Open House veteran. Her daughters, now 11 and 14, make the event a tradition, the kick-off to the holiday season. The girls have been every year of their lives! One of their favorite parts of the night is checking out the stores’ window display contest. “Palm Avenue always has a beautiful display … I have seen some great human mannequins!” she raves.

That reputation is well earned. For Kara Leggett, manager at Palm Avenue, the window decorating contest is a mission. She starts planning their entry for the window decor contest months before cool weather strikes. She’s been at it for 12 years, and has taken the prize more than a few times. For inspiration, she looks to the great retail windows in NYC and always uses staff as live models in their displays. She spends months finding just the right costumes, the perfect decorations to set a festive tone. Instead of red & green, the windows of Palm Avenue will have lots of pink to fit their brand & style. No spoilers on the theme for tonight’s window, but Kara’s been wanting to do this one for years, and her own little boy will steal your heart and steal the show. “We don’t want to let people down,” Kara says, knowing that each store helps to create the magic of the evening. But she adds with a twinkle in her eye, “I’m very competitive. We just really want to win.

Make a Wish

For much of the year, it’s just a tree in front of Penzey’s Spices & Steven Shell Living. But during the holiday season, this simple tree transforms into our Wishing Tree, a community art piece where everyone can share their wishes, big and small. We place a platform around the tree and give you slips of paper to dream big. It’s up to you to make those wishes come true!

Megan Pfanmiller is a mom of two boys, ages 5 and 7, who had a ball tying their wishes on the tree at last year’s Open House. But even when boys look alike and love the same things, they can be as different as night and day. Her oldest, in a burst of helpfulness for the harried holiday season, made his gift list simple for mom: legos, toys, and a new bike. His little brother, clearly a dreamer and future world changer, wished for “all homeless people to have a home.” “Obviously they went from one extreme to the other, but this definitely coincides with their personalities!” says Megan.

So, whether you’re wishing for an A on that math test, wishing for a cure for cancer, wishing for an awesome treehouse, or wishing for a date with Batman (oh yes, that one is straight from the tree!), we wish you the most joyous of holidays. Join us tonight for Open House as we kick off the season, Cameron Village-style. And may all your wishes come true!

November 15, 2017

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