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Live mannequins brought Downtown Neenah to life

Posted at 8:29 AM, Dec 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-03 09:29:52-05

NEENAH (NBC 26) — On Friday night, Downtown Neenah came to life. A Very Neenah Christmas returned for its 25th year and hosted over 30 live mannequin displays.

“It’s just a night of all the Christmas fun things you could think of crammed into two hours. With the Christmas lights, the window displays, the live mannequins,” Meredith Rathe, Future Neenah event coordinator.

The live mannequins are a decorative Christmas tradition in Downtown Neenah’s storefronts.

“So, each business comes up with their own concept of some Christmas scene or funny thing that they can think of that people enjoy seeing. Then they bring in people that are dressed in costumes to stand there for two hours and be a mannequin and make this scene really come to life,” said Rathe.

Tina Palmer, owner of Red Door Mercantile, has been a part of the fun for years. Her live mannequins have even won awards, which she credits to the details of her displays.

“I think the details… I love the details, I love having people walk up and leave like they’ve entered the 1970s,” said Palmer

Which is her theme this year, all inspired by a piece 1970s furniture.

“We kind of just go with whatever we feel like we want to do for the year. This year our theme is Christmas cocktails with friends 1970’s style,” said Palmer.

As for Amy James, owner of The Natural Boutique, this is her first time creating a live mannequin display. She worked at Future Neenah for 10 years and helped organize the event each year, but this holiday season, she’s part of the live mannequin competition.

“Tonight’s theme is Alice in Wonderland: Holiday party,” said James.

Her reason for the creative theme:

“We sell over 200 teas, so we wanted to incorporate it into our brand. We wanted to do something with our tea so we’re having a tea party tonight for the holidays,” said James.

At the end of the night, 10 awards are given away. But for Rathe, it’s about more than the competition.

“I just love seeing everything happen and come together in the end and seeing everybody just enjoy it,” said Rathe.