By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’d like to feel like a kid again just take a leisurely stroll past South 8th Street and Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis.

It’s where you will find behind sprawling sheets of glass, your trip back through time.

For decades thousands of families flocked downtown to gaze at Dayton’s holiday window displays. The department store’s annual kickoff to the holiday shopping season made for cheap entertainment and every kid’s wish list.

“People have nostalgia for Dayton’s,” said Fiona Quick.

Quick started working at Dayton’s when she was only 15. To her, the window displays were both smart marketing and creative genius.

“I was very impressed they brought the windows back. They always used to close off Nicollet Mall for people to drive past the windows as well,” said Quick.

Now, five of the nostalgic displays are back along the mall and second-floor skyway level. That’s thanks to the ongoing $214 million renovation of the Dayton’s Project.

Designer Kent Hensley’s window at the corner of 8th and Nicollet celebrates 23 years of the hugely popular Dayton’s Santa Bear.

“It’s delightful to see something from the heart, an emotional connection come back to the city,” says Hensley.

As the renovation progresses, the windows pay homage to the building’s rich past — and a nod to what’s ahead.

“Historic building and nationally as well as something that touches the heart, everybody in the Twin Cities as well,” said Don Kohlenberger, who is supervising renovation for Hightower Initiatives.

Already the work to bring back the five window displays is a proven hit with passersby.

And for making smiles and memories of the holidays past.

Bill Hudson