2016: Christmas Cheer on Fifth Avenue

 

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It may be a hopeful sign that New York’s prime shopping boulevard is defying the political unrest that is settling on the world. The city’s big stores came up with an enchanting extravaganza of Christmas windows endowing Midtown Manhattan with a festive air. Tourists have not yet arrived for the holiday madness and the streets are manageable.

It is fitting that Branching’s editor Naomi and I started out with Tiffany’s, located on the ground floor of what has been called “White House North.” A whole platoon of New York City policemen guarded the entrance to Trump Tower. They efficiently shuffled us in front of the store’s diminutive boutique windows filled with Christmas trees hung with long pearl necklaces paired with stunning jewels. My favorite window consisted of a small crystal cityscape reminiscent of New York, fronted by a rolling sea and backed by continuous fireworks.

More police helped us cross Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Bergdorf’s windows, called Destination Extraordinary, were as gigantic as the windows at Tiffany’s were small. My favorite was a parasol-bearing woman balancing in high heels on a rope strung across a pond filled with fish and alligators. In another window, an equally fashionable creature caught butterflies amidst gigantic praying mantises and other insects. We also loved the jungle with orangutans and a woman valiantly riding a relative of a llama.

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Lord and Taylor, in a marked change from its usual Old New York windows displayed an Enchanted Forest. We loved the den of foxes hibernating below frolicking raccoons, while a moose and its young lazily patrolled the forest. A sleepy giant brown bear filled an entire window. The dozen mice that surrounded him or her did not perturb the animal. I loved the mama owl that protectively wrapped and unwrapped her wings around her three chicks. The bird’s mascaraed lashes were an advertisement for the store’s cosmetic department.

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Saks Fifth Avenue’s Land of 1000 Delights featured Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and paid tribute to the holiday’s penchant for sweet treats. Clara and her Nutcracker/prince battled and vanquished the mouse king. I loved the sugar plum fairy in her tulle gown and the two giant golden cups of chocolate overflowing with whipped cream. Saks’ block-long façade displayed a magic light show. To see it, one must cross over to Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens, from where one also has a good view of the Center’s traditional Christmas tree.

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Time to go home unless you want to stop by and pick up a strand of “pearls” at a makeshift Christmas market—in case Tiffany’s prices stopped you from getting the real stuff. The market is located on a vacant lot near 45th Street that will soon, no doubt, anchor another tower.

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