Shillito’s Elves may be back in 2020!
This classic Cincinnati holiday display was shut down in 2017. Now, owner Bill Spinnenweber says he hopes to have the holiday display up and running as early as 2020.
The Shillito’s Elves are a long-standing Cincy tradition. Window displays are a fun blast from the past — and the Shillito’s Elves have always been next-level. More than 130 animated figures originally filled Shillito’s downtown store, bringing Santa’s Workshop to life through seven storefront scenes, 20 in-store merchandising widows and 10 interior vignettes. Moved by levers and gears, the elves spent the holidays building toys, sorting Santa’s mail and loading his sleigh. Then, in 1982, Shillito’s became Lazarus… and the elves disappeared.
Fast forward 30+ years to 2006, when the Elves were brought back to life by Cincinnatian Bill Spinnenweber, whose family owns the Mariemont Inn. After a few moves, the Elves found a new home in Downtown Mariemont, next to LaRosa’s and across from the National Exemplar.
These scenes are elaborate and whimsical and humorous — definitely unlike any other holiday exhibit in Cincinnati. Santa’s Workshop is unique Cincinnati tradition that’s been enjoyed by generations of Cincy kids.
Unfortunately, the move to Mariemont was met with lackluster attendance, ultimately leading to the Elves’ early retirement in 2017.
However, just this week, Spinnenweber revealed plans to resurrect this only-in-Cincinnati experience. In order to start showing the elves again, Spinnenweber said he needs to make the display portable so it can be packed up every year, moved to a location for setup, broken down and put back into storage.