This is what Economic Depression Looks Like: Boston BID presents “Downtown Holiday Magic”

The Macy’s tree at DTX

Presented by the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID)
With Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Huntington Theatre CompanyChristmas Revels, and Boston Ballet

Running Nov. 24 through Jan 31, 2021
Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA
Boston BID on Facebook

Article by Kitty Drexel

Boston — My delightful wife and I took a stroll through Downtown Crossing today to see the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District’s “Downtown Holiday Magic” decorations. Wreaths are hung on street lamps, flower pots had new holiday arrangements and trees had twinkly lights.

For all of its holiday cheer, and Boston BID is trying its hardest to be jolly, Downtown Crossing is downright depressing. Many DTX storefronts have been shuttered by the pandemic. The three-story Forever 21 is still vacant. Small businesses have been replaced by mega conglomerates that only want your money. A Western Union location that has existed on Winter St since I was in undergrad has gone out of business. Its sign advertising ice cold beverages is still up. This is what an economic depression looks like.It doesn’t help that the multitudes of folks doing their shopping today were either wearing their masks incorrectly or foregoing them entirely. Venturing into a mildly populated shopping area is a COVID risk that folks with children or senior citizens shouldn’t attempt. No amount of festive decorations will change that. 

We visited the Stage Windows during the day as we didn’t trust that the good weather would hold or that the crowds would be minimal. The photos didn’t capture the best angles of window displays as a result. I apologize for the quality.

Our first stop was the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s  design for their currently running production of “A Christmas Carol.” CSC says on its website that the production is “presented in a reduced 40-minute adaptation, and features a recorded solo performance by award-winning Boston actor Will Lyman, directed by CSC Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler.” Between the hours of 4pm – 9:30pm, Victorian London is brought to life through video projections that light up the storefront. Audiences can view the production from the sidewalk, and can watch at their leisure.  

You can imagine how beautiful it will be when the projections start.

This is a photo of it during the day. “A Christmas Carol” wouldn’t start for another four hours. It is located at 467 Washington St, Boston, MA. 

Eat me, 2020!

The Huntington Theatre Company’s New Year’s Eve installation is a few steps away. It is a cheerful dedication to 2021. There are gold and silver streamers, hung paper stars and a giant bottle of champagne. I think a giant bottle of champagne will be entirely necessary to forget the horrors of 2020. 

Costumes from “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”


Around the corner are two fancy dress costumes from August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The mannequins have no heads but wear festive, conical hats. It’s very Coneheads.  It is located at 481 Washington Street. 


Up the street in the opposite direction, across from the giant Old Navy store is the Cambridge Revels’ installation at 395 Washington St. It has a Winter Solstice, Yule fantasy theme. There are large dragon puppets, pagan trees, and richly designed costumes. The last window is dedicated to “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper. Information about their upcoming performances is HERE

This photo doesn’t do the installation justice. It had two dragons, costumes and a video playing scenes from past years.

We had a little difficulty finding the Boston Ballet at 101 Arch Street. A press release told us that the window was viewable at the corners of Summer and Hawley Streets. Even then, it took us a moment to find it. It is easy to miss. We were distracted by Macy’s brilliantly colorful decorations across the street.  

This sign told us we were in the right place for Ballet Boston’s installation.

The Boston Ballet jewelry box dedicated to The Nutcracker is best viewed after dark. It uses lots of mirrors and requires the viewer to look into the window without getting distracted by their own reflection. In its center, a Nutcracker costume twirls. It’s reflections act as the corps de ballet. She is alone but accompanied by her many reflections. 

Daylight creates a glare on the window glass that makes viewing difficult. Our photos of the installation were reflection selfies instead. 

We spent about 45 minutes in downtown Boston and then walked in the Commons to see the Christmas tree. There were still a lot of folks walking their dogs, enjoying the sunshine and talking photos for their holiday cards. The open space meant our anxiety dropped way down. 

We took showers when we got home to reset our personal hygiene levels. Being in such close proximity to strangers on the redline and on the sidewalks was stressful. We can’t control the virus but we can control ourselves.  

About the BID — The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID) was created by property owners committed to achieving the district’s full potential as a premier and vibrant destination. Its mission is to significantly improve the experience of all who live, work, visit, go to school or shop in the Downtown Boston BID by: providing supplemental services to keep the streets and sidewalks clean, upgrade the aesthetic appearance of the district, and make people feel welcomed and safe; promoting and fostering an energetic and thriving business climate in the area; and serving as the voice and advocate for the district.

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