Monday, December 21, 2020


Family Traditions - Winter Wonderland Christmas, Dayton, Ohio – The history behind the Rikes Window Displays

By Molly Jebber, Author of Amish Historical Romance


My favorite part of Christmas is celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth. Mom would always make a Happy Birthday cake in celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday in the shape of a cross, and then, Dad would read the Christmas story out of the Bible. Then we’d pray for all the things we were thankful for the past year. And now, we carry through with making Jesus Christ the reason for the season. Here’s my nativity scene, and the choir figurines are from 1951 and passed onto me from Mom.

Also, as a little girl, I loved when my parents would take my brother and I downtown Dayton at Rikes Department Store to see the moving Christmas characters and scenes. They were big window displays and Christmas carolers would sing. All the scenes were of children around the Christmas tree, getting out of bunkbeds to open their presents, animals chasing each other in the snow and more. They sold hot chocolate, and it was something many families looked forward to each year.

The display was originally sent to Dayton, Ohio from New York in 1943. They first appeared in NCR’S (National Cash Register Corporation) windows.

In 1945, Frederick Rike, owner of Rikes Department Store, was given permission to move the displays to his downtown Dayton store location on Main and Second Streets.


 Eventually, Rikes closed and the window displays were put in storage. In 2019, Adam Koch, offered his services to revamp and update the window displays. He, along with friends, salvaged enough of the original work for four themes, “Woodland Forest”, “Snow Day”, “Christmastime” and “Silent Night”.



They are brought out and open to the public in glass enclosed boxes on top of beautiful wooden carts inside the Schuster Center, a fairly new and beautiful entertainment and arts building featuring many Broadway plays, concerts, and other events. The first time Ed and I saw the displays again, my childhood memories of my parents and brother having such an enjoyable day each year seeing the windows all came rushing back. This year, due to COVID, they weren’t open to the public. But I’m looking forward to next year! Is there a tradition or place you liked to visit during the Christmas season from childhood or before COVID? I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below. I’ll be choosing a winner for a $10 Amazon card from the ones who leave comments below! I'll contact the winner, and then announce the winner in January's post!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

   Releases January 26, 2021 wherever books are sold.



  1. Special memories! I grew up in New Jersey, and we often went into New York City to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas show, complete with live animals! (author-not entering)

  2. Making cookies is my favorite Christmas memory. My mother and I baked decorated sand tarts, raisin filled, date pinwheel, and pecan tarts.

  3. In Aurora, Illinois where I live there is a huge neighborhood Nativity display that cover two blocks. Each neighbors yard has a piece of the Nativity, a shepherd or wiseman or a large plaque with the scripture telling of his birth. The end is a life size manger scene. This has been on display since the 1960s. Cars pass through the display by the thousands every year. Anyone who buys a home in that neighborhood can either commit to display their part of the Nativity or pass it on to a neighbor. People intentional buy a home there to be part of the Christmas display. There is also a loudspeaker playing Carols as cars slowly drive through. Our children and grandchildren love it.

  4. As a child we used to drive around and look at all the Christmas lights. We'd actually go quite far, to neighboring towns. There were neighborhoods that went "all blue", which was beautiful and different. As a parent, we lived about an hour and a half away from a Catholic shrine which was known for decorating their hillside in a "Festival of Lights". That became a treasured tradition. Merry Christmas! bcrug(at)twc(dot)com

  5. When Iwas growing up I always enjoyed the Christmas Ree display at the Science Museum.
    Theresa Norris
    weceno at yahoo dot com

  6. Thanks for sharing your favorite Christmas tradition. It was really interesting reading. I have never heard of Rikes Department Store. I love reading about others' memories of years past. A favorite childhood tradition of mine is my parents riding us around looking at Christmas lights. I still like to do that. I took my 96 year old father riding the other night. I love hearing his stories of growing up. Things sure have changed in his lifetime!
    Susan in North Carolina

  7. There are so many wonderful traditions that can be adopted. When I was little my mom set up a tradition that we bake a lot of cookies and give most of them away to family and friends. When our two kids came along we would make a list of who we wanted to give cookies to. We would go and shop for those tins. The kids like to pick these out. We would bake like crazy fun and then divide them into the tins. Then we would take the tins and the kids would give the cookies to the recipients. I think they enjoyed this part the best. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  8. As a young girl, we always went to my grandmother’s on Christmas Eve. Delicious food and wonderful desserts filled the dining table and buffet. Her tree with its glass ornaments, big lights and tinsel beautifully lit up the living room and on her mental set a clock that looked like it was set in a fireplace with a light making the fireplace glow. It was always a night to remember.
    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  9. The 18 years we lived in Florida we would always come 'back home' for Christmas. Not only to see our families but it just never seemed like Christmas, there was no snow. We have moved back home now, been here almost 4 years, this will be our fourth Christmas, and I don't think we are going to have snow, lol, it will be a 'bit' colder than Florida though so that does help, lol.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  10. Beautiful memories, Molly. Our dad use to drive the family around to areas with Christmas lights. One small community park had a small pond and they would be playing Christmas music in that area. Fond memories.
    A park close to me have a drive thru for numerous Christmas lights sponsored by businesses in the area. It's a special time now, but I haven't been there this year. I do miss the traditional Christmas programs and musicals this year with Covid.
    Have a blesed Chrsitmas with your family, Molly.
    marilynridgway78 [at]gmail[dot[com