Neighbors share creativity and holiday cheer through Advent window displays

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 18, 2020

 Residents of the 1300 block of Audubon Road in Grosse Pointe Park are creatively decorating their front windows this year for a daily Advent calendar window reveal.

Residents of the 1300 block of Audubon Road in Grosse Pointe Park are creatively decorating their front windows this year for a daily Advent calendar window reveal.

Photos provided by Tracy L. Thomas

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — The residents of a tight-knit Grosse Pointe Park neighborhood have found a way to celebrate the holidays while safely social distancing this year.

Unable to hold their annual progressive holiday party — in which neighbors would go to each other’s homes for appetizers, desserts and the like — Tracy L. Thomas said the 1300 block of Audubon Road decided to do a daily Advent calendar window reveal.

“We’ve got elderly neighbors, neighbors with children (who signed up),” Thomas said. “We have most of the street signed up.”

The idea was the brainchild of Lena Duffy, a resident of the 1300 block of Audubon Road who said her hometown in Sweden did this last year. She said the international phenomenon has had participants ranging from businesses to homes, and it’s called a living Advent calendar. In addition to the displays, participants include the day of Advent they’re marking. Advent lasts 22 to 28 days, ending on Christmas.

Although the window displays are usually most impressive after dark because many of them are lighted, neighbors have been enjoying walking or driving down the street to take them all in at their leisure.

To keep the event contact-free, Duffy said, they used a Google signup program so participants could register online for different days.

The daily unveiling of a new window has become a popular nightly event on the block.

“At 7 p.m., we’ll all meet outside with our masks (on) and do the reveal,” Duffy said. “Everyone loves it.”

Neighbors have come up with designs from simple to sophisticated, from sentimental to whimsical. Duffy said one neighbor created a window with “an active snowfall” using white packing peanuts and the blower function on a vacuum cleaner. Another set up a tiny nativity scene and sewed miniature facemasks for Mary and Joseph. Other displays include a snow globe and a LEGO train scene.

On Dec. 18 — after the Dec. 21 issue of the Grosse Pointe Times went to press — Thomas said Grosse Pointe Park’s Bicycle Santa was scheduled to make an appearance to wave to neighborhood kids. Thomas said Bicycle Santa is a local teacher who makes appearances to raise money for his classroom.

Neighbors acknowledge this isn’t the same as the personal gatherings they’ve enjoyed in years past, but it’s a way they can all still connect with one another and spread needed holiday cheer.

“It’s just a really cool way to remind people that they can still do things to (celebrate) the holiday safely,” Thomas said.

Neighbors have expressed an interest in making this a new annual tradition.

“I don’t see why we can’t do it next year,” Duffy said.

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