The Downtown Hattiesburg Association invites the public to enjoy “A Downtown Christmas Story” self-guided window tour throughout downtown Hattiesburg this holiday season.
This year’s window display competition is a nod to the beginnings of this Hattiesburg tradition. In the 1980s, the late mayor, Bobby Chain, led the downtown holiday tradition, sharing grand window displays at Chain Department Store. For the last several years, the association has coordinated the seasonal activity aimed at bringing people downtown, but this year, the challenge was to revive the Chain tradition with a glance into the past.
“Decorating the windows has always been a community project,” Andrea Saffle, executive director of the association, said. “However, this year we felt like people needed something more, so I set out on a mission to find as many of the old Chain Department store decorations as I could to use as this year’s window displays.”
Holiday decorations provide a family-friendly event for the whole community as well as an economically efficient way to attract customers. This socially distanced holiday activity is ideal for family, small groups of friends, or individuals to safely enjoy the holiday season outdoors.
“This year, we really had a lot of our businesses get on board with growing this tradition,” Saffle said. “We hope that this tradition will continue for years, and like the luminaries in the historic neighborhood in December, the downtown Hattiesburg holiday window displays will become a tradition that that visitors and locals will remember and bring their families and friends back for many years.”
The association worked in partnership with many locals to continue the tradition this year, including property owner Rob Tatum of CR Properties; the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center; Visit Hattiesburg; Friends of the Forrest County, Hattiesburg and Petal Library; Grove Transit; and the Hattiesburg Jaycees. Additionally, many volunteered their time to bring the holiday spirit to downtown, including Jonathon Kitrell, Thomas Siebert, Lester Gire, Abigail Allen, Susan Slaughter and Lisa Cade.
As with years past, there will be a window decorating contest where downtown visitors can vote for their favorite displays. Categories include Best Retail or Merchandise Display, Best Holiday Spirit and People’s Choice Favorite. Voting will open Thursday, Dec. 3 through Thursday, Dec. 31. Voting instructions can be found within the “A Downtown Christmas Story Tour” Facebook event.
Download the “Visit HBURG” app in the Apple or Android app stores for the self-guided tour directions.
For more information, visit the Downtown Hattiesburg Facebook page or the Facebook event.
In addition, Town Square Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland of lights and serves as home to the city’s Christmas tree.
When visiting downtown to view the displays, families and friends can grab a bite to eat at one of the many local eateries, shop at a local retailer, view public art and more.
With downtown’s "Go Cup” ordinance in place, adults can grab a beverage to sip while strolling. All downtown visitors are encouraged to share pictures of holiday fun using #HBURGHolidays.
DOWNTOWN HATTIESBURG WINDOW DISPLAY LOCATIONS:
• Blooms Company (301 McLeod St.).
• Kress Building (Front St.) – Sponsored by Visit Hattiesburg, this window houses some of the original elves from the Chain Department Store Christmas display.
• McKenzie’s on Main (400 Main St.).
• Carter Building (112 E. Front St.) – Sponsored by the Hattiesburg Jaycees, this window features the Christmas shoebox parade in lieu of the annual Christmas Parade.
• Oddfellows Gallery (119 E Front St.) – Displays the nativity set from a Chain Department Store Christmas display.
• A Gallery (154 E Front St.) – Sponsored by the Slaughter and Cade families.
• Downtown Visitors Center (207 E Front St., Suite 103) – Sponsored by Friends of the Library, this window features original caroling figures from the Chain Department Store Christmas display.
• The Author Shoppe (240 E Front St.).
• Lucky Rabbit (123 Mobile St.) – This display features a “Home Alone” movie set.
• Go Young Fashions (125 E Pine St.).
• Association Management Systems (629 Main St.).
• Rush Law Firm (525 Main St.).
• Kress Building Window #1 (500 Main St.) – Sponsored by Grove Transit and Jon David Kittrell, pastor at Maybank Baptist Church, this whimsical Christmas village is full of surprises that will delight the child in all of us. The train and trolley have been provided by Kittrell. The Southern Rail is a model of the actual Southern Crescent line that used to run from New Orleans through Hattiesburg.
• Kress Building Window #2 – Sponsored by the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center.
• Regions Bank (501 Main St.).
• Main Street Books (210 Main St.).
• Walnut Square Gifts and Stationery (124 Walnut St.).