(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
The display annually marks the opening of the holiday season for not just the Hutson family, said store owner Dave Hutson. He is the third generation of Hutsons to create the display. The tradition began with Hutson's grandfather in 1960.
This year's display features sparkling, colorful lollipops that spin amid elves clearing candy with a bulldozer and a truck, while Santa Claus stands in the center, overseeing the work. Above Santa's head, another elf strings Christmas lights atop a gingerbread house.
Some years a train is included; sometimes not.
"We like to change it up," Hutson said.
On Thanksgiving night, the display always draws a large crowd of families with children in tow.
"Jokingly, we've said that if we ever decided to stop doing it, there would be strollers outside with torches," Hutson said. "But really, the biggest reward is to watch the kids enjoy it."
Flora White of Cape Girardeau and her granddaughters, Bryhton, 18, and Brenna, 5, were among the first to head to the store to see the display Thursday evening. White said she has been bringing her family downtown for the display every year since they moved to town in 1976.
White said it was important to keep coming back because "we are losing our traditions. I think it's important that we establish them for the future."
The display is available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day through Christmas.
"We hope people will just keep coming to see it," Hutson said. "What we are trying to do is reinforce how sweet Christmas really is."
43 S. Main St., Cape Girardeau, Mo