Chicago Stories and Tips

Marshall Field's Windows at Christmas

Christmastime in Chicago is my favorite time of the year. In summer, you can get stifled by the heat; in spring and fall, you get bombarded by the rain; and in winter, you get a blizzard or tow. But the Christmas season is the best time to be in Chicago. The weather hasn’t turned too entirely frigid yet, and you may be lucky enough to have a little snow, turning the city into a winter wonderland.

The one thing that you have to do in the city during the Christmas season is to go see the Marshall Field’s windows. Every year, starting around Thanksgiving and ending in the middle of January, Marshall Field’s decorates their front display windows with a theme. It is usually a Disney story, and the words to the story are printed below the windows, while the story takes place inside the windows.

Now, these are no ordinary pictures in windows; these are small masterpieces. There are figurines that move, costumes made out of velvet and satin, water that runs, and music playing, just to mention a few of the aspects. Last year (winter 2004/2005), the story was of Snow White and included a ballroom scene where everyone was dancing, the mirror where a face really appeared, a cauldron turning (for the apple), and Snow White cleaning. It is truly a magical event that I am not doing justice to in this write-up.

You must start at the beginning of the windows and work your way around. It has become a tradition that my father always reads the stories out loud to us, using different voices (my sister and I are grown, yet we still do it every Christmas). I am sure that you can convince someone in your group to do it for you (or we could probably arrange to have my dad rented out for the day; someone once offered to tip him because he thought that he was a tour guide). It will make it more magical, especially to the younger kids.

If you are getting a little too cold, go inside for a quick break or to shop in Field’s. You will immediately know that the Christmas season has arrived! This store does the most fabulous job decorating for the holiday season, with carols playing all over the store and trees, garland, ornaments, menorahs, stars, and everything else all around. Take a look at the tree in the Walnut Room (or better yet, go for lunch or dinner), and enjoy being swept up into the holiday season.

Just for a point of reference, the windows are only decorated at the Marshall Field’s on State Street. Don’t go to the one on Michigan Avenue looking for the windows, as you’ll be disappointed.

Been to this destination?

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