SALT LAKE CITY — Three-year-old Rhea Nelson can't wait for Christmas.
Rhea is already talking anxiously about decorating her tree and getting a visit from Santa, and she likes to pass the time watching Christmas movies. Along with her 2-year-old sister, Amelia, Rhea was among the first to rush over when Deseret Book's Christmas window display was unveiled Friday night.
This year's holiday spectacle is interactive, sending tiny parachutes speeding through pneumatic tubes and shooting toward the ceiling.
From now until Christmas, customers visiting Deseret Book's flagship store in City Creek can drop their parachutes into the Turbo Prop Peppermint Shop and watch them come flying out, rewarding them with a candy cane.
The contraption's theme comes from "Christmas From Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber," available at the bookstore. Rhea and Amelia's father, Adam Nelson, was part of the team that has worked for months building, testing and decorating the display.
"When we create a display like this, we have a few objectives. It doesn't just come from nowhere," Nelson said. "We kind of created our own story about what might have happened."
The Nelson family built a test model of the parachute device in their Bountiful home as Adam Nelson worked for months preparing the holiday display.
Across the street, visitors began lining up early Friday outside the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Tabernacle for the annual "Bells on Temple Square" concert.
Among them were Larry and Carol Powell, newlyweds from Shelley, Idaho, who cuddled against the cold as they waited to claim a good seat. The Powells said they're looking forward to celebrating their first Christmas together, starting with their trip to Utah.
"I had heard about the concert before, so I was anxious to see it when (friends) told me about the tickets," Larry Powell said. "I'm looking forward to having a Christmas with somebody special this year."
Friday's festive events were some of the first signs that downtown Salt Lake City is preparing for the holiday season as temperatures dropped and snow crept into the forecast.
Christmas decorations have appeared at City Creek Center, and Santa himself will be welcomed to the mall at 7 p.m. Thursday.5 comments on this story
Santa's schedule includes special days reserved just for pets to come share their Christmas wishes.
The lights at Temple Square will be turned on Friday, Nov. 29, and a series of Christmas performances are scheduled through the end of the year.
Down at The Gateway, preparations are underway for the mall's "Light Up the Night" event, which will include powering up a towering Christmas tree, performances from a capella choirs from BYU and the University of Utah, and a visit from Santa. The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.