In a year when schools, businesses, churches and every other segment of society has been upended by a deadly pandemic, people have struggled to maintain some treasured traditions.

One such group was the artisans who design and build the popular annual Christmas window displays at The Market, 5500 Bells Ferry Road, Acworth.

“We typically start tossing ideas around in June or July and begin building in August. Because of everything this year, we didn’t get to start work until the second week of September,” said The Market co-owner Lisa Welty.

The “everything this year,” included the spring shelter-in-place order and adjusting to making shopping safer in the pandemic, including ramping up online offerings and implementing contactless sales.

The Market has been creating its award-winning window displays for eight years. The big windows in the foyer of the building, which houses more than 100 merchants selling antiques and other home goods, were the inspiration for co-owner Karen Bennett to begin the tradition.

“She saw the long foyer of glass and thought it would be perfect — our gift to the community,” Welty said.

Creating that annual gift isn’t something that’s farmed out to a professional design studio. It’s an in-house labor of love.

“There are two ladies who are the primary foam carvers and one was also the primary painter. There are four additional ladies who helped sand and do base painting. And one man who did the motors and video,” Welty said. “We had four volunteers who came and helped paint a couple of days.”

The crew this year included:

♦ Bennett, owner — Concept development; creative director; model making to scale; planning; foam carving, shaping, sanding and smoothing; character creation; Motors; Lighting; Install

♦ Mari Mogitz — Sanding, smoothing foam; Base painting; Install

♦ Welty, owner — Sanding foam; Base painting; Install

♦ Logan Ahrens — Video creation; Motors

♦ Amy Ahrens — Base painting; Install

♦ Erin Jimison — Foam carving, shaping; Detail painting

♦ Stacy Hynes — Sanding foam; Base painting; Install

♦ Phil Montgomery — Window boxes put together, dismantled, put back together and installed

♦ Volunteers to help with the base painting.

While thousands of people enjoy the windows in person each year, the team’s work has gotten national acclaim as well.

“We have been named in the top 50 Christmas Windows in the world in VMSD (Visual Merchandising and Store Design) Magazine for the past six years,” Welty said. “We received honorable mention for our Dory & Nemo Christmas Under the Sea window.”

The Market is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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