The goal of Main Street Waterbury was to harness the spirit of the holiday season and foster an environment of cheer and friendly competition among shop owners in the Main Street District.

Holiday Window Display Competition, Downtown Waterbury
to Main Street Waterbury

The harsh wind and cold of winter can serve as a bleak backdrop to the brick and concrete buildings that populate downtown. But, by encouraging store owners to decorate their front windows with holiday scenes and displays, Main Street Waterbury’s program helps transform downtown into a cluster of streets that look like they belong in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Karmic Inspirations, a recent pop-up business in Grand Street in Waterbury, won the Best Visual Impact award.

With a focus on “clean, safe and friendly”, the competition strives to offer a downtown that is pedestrian-oriented, bright, and festive. It’s promoted to store owners early in the holiday season, with no cost to participate. Store owners simply sign up and put their hats into the ring.

Whether the windows are decorated by groups of volunteers or prideful store owners and staff coordinating on a theme, each merchant creates a special window that embodies the essence of their business. This encourages pedestrians to not only take in the beauty of the windows, but also gives a sense of what the businesses offer, enticing people into the stores.

There are seven different award categories: Best Design, Most Creative, Best Visual Impact, Green Award, Holiday Spirit Award, Best Outdoor Display, Best Overall, and The People’s Choice Award.

The People’s Choice Award links displays and festivities directly to those who live, work, and shop in downtown Waterbury. Ballots can be filled out and left at the merchants’ business or at the Main Street Waterbury office. New in 2015 was the ability to text your choice, tallied directly online, and of course, many of the merchants also promote their displays on social media.

Communication is crucial during this process, and it’s vital merchants know any problem or question they have in relation to the competition will be fully answered. This joint venture between Main Street Waterbury and the merchants creates and strengthens relationships throughout the year.

The Howland Hughes Center, a former department store transforms its windows into large displays that liven up Bank Street.

2015 marked the 10th year of the Holiday Window Display Competition. The transformation over the decade has been remarkable. From a few businesses in scattered pockets, to a full slate of 15 businesses, the change over time has yielded drastic results and phenomenal press for the downtown.

Merchants, at first skeptical, have become eager for the start of the competition. They have developed a strong, competitive spirit, building comradery along the way. The competition also helps downtown Waterbury build a positive perception, making it friendlier and more welcoming to those driving or walking through.

In a sense, the Holiday Window Display Competition is for and by the community. The ultimate success of the competition lies not just in the participation of business owners, but in the ability to connect the community back to downtown. By providing a festive, bright cityscape, the competition does just that.