The little girl in the fancy, bright-red dress pointed to the mechanical figures in a diorama.
“I like the little mice sitting in chairs!” said Addison Meyer, 4, of Davenport.
Addison unknowingly continued a Quad-City tradition Sunday afternoon at the annual WinterFest at the Family Museum, 2900 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf. She is among the latest of the generations who have marveled at the moving Christmas figures formerly displayed in the windows of the Petersen Harned Von Maur store in downtown Davenport, now known at the Redstone Building. The figures were donated by the Von Maur family to the Family Museum, where they now are part of the annual WinterFest.
“I remember bringing my kids down to Von Maur and looking at them in the windows,” said Addison’s grandmother, Judy Tiemeier, of Bettendorf. She enjoyed “seeing your grandchildren see what your children saw.”
Later, Addison and her grandmother joined hundreds of other guests at the museum’s “Rivers and Bridges” exhibit that opened in October. That’s where Kevin Ramsey, 6, of Davenport, industriously completed multi-colored rubbings of different bridges. His mother, Michele Ramsey, watched while he remained intent on his creations.
They are members of the Family Museum. “There’s a lot of activities (the children) can do,” she said. “And it lets them learn on their own — it can be guided or it can be free-form.”
Just around the corner, a blare of tuneful brass instruments burst into “The Christmas Song.” While members of the Pleasant Valley ensemble — many of them dressed in Santa hats or reindeer antlers — performed Christmas tunes, proud family members and friends took photos and enjoyed the music.
Among them was Martha Conway, of Bettendorf, whose son, Paul, a senior at Pleasant Valley, was among the musicians. “He has played all four years,” she said. “It’s made such an impact on him. He’s going to major in music in college and become a music teacher.” Conway said that his band director, Nicholas Propes, has been a major influence on her son’s career choice.
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Elly Gerdts, public relations coordinator at the museum, said that Sunday’s crowd was one of the best-attended WinterFests in the museum’s history.
“Our gorgeous Christmas displays ... people love to see them year after year,” she said. And of course one of the big draws was seeing Santa Claus, along with the completed exhibits that are part of the first phase of the museum’s renovation.
“It just excites us more for Phase II, which will start right after the New Year,” Gerdts said.
She added that DHCU Community Credit Union has sponsored the event for the past few years, and its support has provided free admission.
Also, Gerdts was impressed at the bounty of donated food and personal items that visitors brought to be donated to a local food pantry. “This isn’t one per person,” Gerdts said, indicating the abundance of food. “This is several per person.”