They provided some of the best window dressing any business could have and residents and visitors can see them again, years after they stopped adorning the windows of two of Cedar Rapids' businesses.

Longtime residents remember when many downtown Cedar Rapids businesses had large holiday displays.

One of those was Killian's Department Store, which called downtown Cedar Rapids home from 1911 until its closing in 1982. Through the years, Killian's featured Santa and his reindeer on top of the businesses' signs. Originally several locations, Killian's had a talking Christmas tree that moved downtown when the Lindale Mall and Iowa City locations were sold to (what was then) Petersen Harned Von Maur. The tree, which always featured a female voice, was known as Mary Christmas.

Another unforgettable part of Killian's was their displays in the street-level windows of the downtown store, which sat at the corner of Third Ave. and Second St. S.E.

You can see Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves hard at work at the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids at 1400 Inspiration Place S.W. It's open daily. Hours are available here.

Czech Iowa
Czech Iowa

The sign below explains where the popular display has been since the closing of Killian's.

Czech Iowa
Czech Iowa

Just across 2nd Street from Killian's was Armstrong's, a 100-year Cedar Rapids mainstay that closed in 1991. It opened at 2nd St. and 2nd Ave. S.E. in 1890.

In 1950, Armstrong's built a large 5-story building that took up an entire city block. They would remain there for their last 41 years in business. And oh did Armstrong's decorate. From the largest garland you've ever seen to a Christmas tree that climbed from the second story to the top of the building, it was another downtown jewel. And they had elves of their own. Elves that moved.

The Armstrong elves are on display throughout December at The History Center at 800 2nd Ave. S.E. in Cedar Rapids. You can find hours here.

Smulekoff's also had moving elves that adorned their windows at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 1st St S.E. You can see the elves in the video below.

Another of the very popular downtown displays was a life-sized nativity that debuted at Armstrong's in the late 1950s. After the store closed, it was purchased and displayed by Smulekoff's. It was badly damaged in the flood of 2008 but has been restored. Smulekoff's closed in November of 2014, after 125 years in downtown Cedar Rapids.

For the last 25 years, a Cedar Rapids Community Nativity Celebration and Exhibit has been held the first weekend of December. The free event features live music and hundreds of nativities, including the Armstrong's/Smulekoff's nativity. It's held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 4150 Blue Jay Dr. NE.  You can follow the event's Facebook page here for information on the 2024 celebration, when it becomes available.

This video will undoubtedly bring back more memories of the holidays in downtown Cedar Rapids. Please share yours with us below.

*Please note, the video has no sound.

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