Artist’s gift: Animated window


THE HOLIDAYS are here and more than any past Christmas, I’m longing for the spirit of the season, the twinkling lights, the carolers and the goodwill among men.

And did I mention the shopping?

This year, Montclair has a window competition in conjunction with the annual Holiday Stroll on Dec. 4. Reenie Raschke at Studio Montclair, 6232 La Salle, may have set the bar by bringing in artist Theo Dawson. Out of the goodness of this man’s very large heart, she writes, Theo designed and created an animated window of working elves and Father Christmas along with a 100-square-foot snowy forest complete with life-sized heralds announcing the coming of the holiday. Raschke says she will offer photos with Santa in this life-sized Christmas scene from 6 to 10 p.m. the night of the stroll.

She finds it amazing that Dawson would even have the time to decorate the window of her photography studio. In his busy holiday schedule, he is the visual artist for some spectacular San Francisco windows at Sax Fifth Avenue and Gumps. He also produces a popular holiday puppet show at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

But you may remember him, as Raschke did, as the man whose snowy production of “The Night before Christmas” brought down the house at the Glenview Performing Arts Center a few years back. She realized his magical talents then.

“As we were putting the final touches on my own winter wonderland,” she says, “we spied

four children marveling at the window. They were spellbound by the animation and it was clear that Dawson was pleased.”This is why I do it, he said beaming and adding: There’s just not enough magic in the world.”

Handy Tool: One of the best crime-fighting tools doesn’t cost a dime. The Montclair Safety and Improvement Council is loaning its etching machine to folks who want to permanently put their name on their valuables. Computers, TVs and other personal appliances can be retrieved if they’re stolen as long as they can be traced to their owners. Want more information? Go on line to

Speaking of crime, thanks to reader Chuck Harrison for pointing out that the phone book (page A-34 of the white pages) has important tips for fighting identity theft, the nation’s fastest-growing crime. He says it is worth making a copy of the tips and posting them on the fridge door, with perhaps an extra copy for your auto glove compartment.

E-mail Bag: The rainy season is upon us. Do you know where your drains are? Yes, those metal-covered conduits to the Bay are just waiting to lap up some storm water — or are they? Reader Catherine Brady says she was walking along the top of Snake Road when she noticed the drains were full of debris. I know that the city is supposed to be responsible for cleaning out the drains, but as they probably won’t do so, the neighbors living nearby should get out there. Does anyone want to start an adopt a storm drain program?


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