Exploring with Happy
“City Sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.” Historic Van Buren, Arkansas’ Living Windows came to life with a whimsical touch of holiday spirit this past week.
Although the evening forecast was for a deluge of rain and a blustery bellow from Jack Frost, the historic downtown came to life delighting the bustling crowd, in spite of other parades and activities in the two-state area being cancelled.
The speckling of raindrops on my car windows created a kaleidoscope of ribbon candy colors as I drove through the greeting card depicted historic district. The magically animated windows came to life with an astonishing vintage bouquet of baubles and braids.
Windows embellished with winter’s festive finery were unveiled with Christmas trees threaded with cloud puffs of ribbon, and garlands of multi-colored passementerie.
Windowpanes reveled with children in yesteryear’s frocks, embroidering, cuddling kittens and mastering games from days gone by. A living nativity and the crucifixion of Jesus represented both the birth and death of Jesus Christ. An old farmer churned butter, while up the street a bonnet cloaked grandma knitted a beautiful afghan for some deserving grandchild.
Illuminated snowflake decorations adorned the vintage street lamps, infusing feelings reminiscent of scenes from It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
As I meandered past the bountiful window displays, my first stop was at the ever-convivial Jody Whitworth’s eclectic home décor boutique Yester-Daze. I’ve mentioned Jody before in my column as both his store and personality fascinates as he creates wonderful millinery creations that also serve as holiday home décor accoutrements.
Jody’s store is fresh and innovative while filled with nostalgic pieces from the past. Jody’s nephew Cody was a master at bringing Jody’s fabulously festive windows to life as he read from age-old comic books in a well-worn quilt covered bed.
Jody and his good friend Marcia Cooksey, of Marcia Cooksey Interiors, whose shop is just up the block, are both interior designers and their gift of design will delight your holiday houseguests with their festive flair for fancy. Marcia’s store will lure you in with her intimate and beautiful home décor as well as envelop you in its warmth, much like Marcia’s endearing personality. Something you might want to know about Marcia is she is a masterful upholsterer and has thousands of options for fabric.
The GFW Women’s League of Van Buren shared a bounty of delectable holiday sweets, including melt in your mouth fudge, Christmas cookies, steaming hot chocolate, pink party punch and cinnamon cider. The GFW ladies exuded gracious warmth while hosting the hospitality portion of the main street event at Main Attractions. Main Attractions is a historic dining hall that you can rent for parties or receptions and is large enough to accommodate guests, a food buffet and even a flurry of dancing.
The Art of Framing, formerly located on Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith, and now in the Van Buren historic district, is an upscale gallery specializing in limited edition prints, original art and top of the line custom framing. John Bell, infamous painter extraordinaire, also has an exquisite gallery close by. Bell’s work embraces grace and nostalgia and is found in many of the finest homes and offices around.
Lewis, at the Art of Framing, lent his window to Solemates Boutique owner Julia Young, since her shop is located in north Van Buren. Julia runs the specialty boutique with her friend Natalie Donaubauer and the proprietors have people texting, facebooking and calling at the mere hint of new shipments of specialty items.
Julia’s entrepreneurial endeavor with Solemates began in Crested Butte, Colorado, so she is no stranger to clothing the discriminate fashionista. Natalie’s BA degree in Fashion Marketing and Management at The Art Institute of Charlotte, N.C. lends her expertise to the fashion conscious. For those of you with exquisite taste that don’t have time to shop, or need someone to search out the perfect items for you, Natalie is an accomplished personal stylist and coupled with Julia’s fine taste in couture will have you out dressing the out dressed.
My yuletide-arrayed evening included a host of beautifully adorned shops gracing the reflective multi-colored surfaces of the rain washed streets and sidewalks. Corner Gifts floral finery, Faith Girls Boutique Clothing, Three Sisters Bistro, the A&M Railroad and a multitude of other shops and boutiques beckon you to Van Buren like the wafting aroma of an apple pie baking in a warm country kitchen on a cold winter’s day.
“Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile, and on every street corner your hear . . . . . “ What a delightful way to spend an enchanting Christmas spirit-filled evening. Remember the reason for the season. We celebrate the birth of a King, and the best Christmas gift of all is that the Jesus that was born in a manger and died on a cross, is a resurrected and living Savior for us all.