Children put icing on Christmas cookies during the Winterfest Holiday open house Sunday at the Family Museum in Bettendorf. (Jeff Cook/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

With her nose pressed to the glass, Hollie Hosch stared at the moving dolls with wide eyes. The semi-tattered dresses and faded faces mechanically cut down a Christmas tree, made a Christmas feast and filled orders for Santa.

“She’s crazy for these dolls every year,” her mother, Hannah, said. “She knows that Christmas at the museum means the doll collection.”

Built in the 1960s for the downtown Davenport department store, the Peterson Harned Von Maur Doll Collection is just one of many features that draws more than 500 parents and children to the 17th annual Family Museum Winterfest Holiday Open House.

The museum was bustling with youngsters in the holiday spirit decorating cookies, visiting with Santa Claus, making crafts and doing experiments.

Elly Gerdts, public relations specialist at the museum, said the open house is one of the museum’s most popular events.

“People expect this year after year, every year with different activities to do,” said Gerdts, who said the slippery conditions didn’t deter big crowds from coming out. “We always try to have new activities and things for children to do.”

And with just a donation of a canned good, the day is affordable for families of any income, she said.

Mary Hannon is a single mom working two jobs and living in a small apartment in Davenport. This is the only holiday activity she and her sons — ages 4 and 5 — do because of cost concerns for some events.

“Everything is included here, and it’s just such a wonderful time for my two boys,” Hannon said. “It sounds so trivial, but even if other places charge 50 cents for activities, I simply can’t afford it because I don’t want to have to tell my boys they can’t do things that the other kids are doing.”

Although both really liked an experiment with dry ice, the big draw was the museum itself.

“We love this place,”said  5-year-old Tyler Hannon. “We put it in big letters on our calendar that we could come here and play and see Santa.”

Another big draw for the children was the double Alpine train set that occupies a large section of the entry into the museum. The set often caused mini traffic jams with children wanting to watch the trains go through the tunnels, towns and tracks.

Beverly Jenkins brought her granddaughters to the open house for the first time and says she’ll most definitely be a repeat attendee.

“This was very pleasant, clean, organized and a ball of fun for the girls,” Jenkins, of Bettendorf, said. “It’s indoors as well, so that makes it nice for us grandmas.”

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