By  on October 21, 2009

DALLAS — Children visiting the Neiman Marcus flagship here will go through the looking glass during the holiday season.

A round portal opening onto the sidewalk will allow them to crawl into a tube that winds through the window displays, which have “Innovations in Energy” as the theme.

The tube will make its way through six whimsical power plants that were inspired by stories written by local elementary school students. The essays, which will be featured on a monitor in each window, depict imaginative ways to use peanuts, grapes, math, music, dance and kindness.

The participation of children is intended to bring live action to the six windows, which feature props such as spinning mannequins and painted backdrops. The tube crawl will probably be limited to ages four to 10 with a minimum height requirement.

“The concept of allowing children to go through that pane of glass and enter the window has never been done before,” said Ignaz Gorischek, vice president of visual design and planning at Neiman’s. “The whole point of windows was that it was a magical space beyond the glass. This is to let them be in the window and be inside the fantasy.…All we did was take their words and bring them to life. The children are literally going to go through each chapter of the story.”

In one window, elephants stoked by peanuts will take off in flight. In another, children are to exit the tube onto a boxed platform where they can dance, a photo op that Gorischek hopes will show up on holiday greeting cards. Then they get back into the tube to crawl to the next window.

The 80-foot-long tube has been fitted with 42 transparent panels so children can wave at their parents on the street as they move through the six windows. Viewers will also be able to see the children on monitors streaming video from 16 cameras mounted inside.

The kickoff is set for Nov. 20 during annual holiday festivities downtown that typically draw 15,000 people. Volunteer employees will monitor the windows as part of the company’s two-year-old Give Share Care program, which allows salaried employees 24 hours of paid time to devote to charitable causes.

Gorischek said the display is one of the most difficult he has done. Two entire window panes must be removed to install the tube, which will start on Main Street and turn the corner to run through the windows on Ervay Street.

“It’s designed to look and feel like you are crawling through this factory that is producing energy of the future,” Gorischek explained. “They are fun, colorful and bright, with moving figures, music, flashing lights and graphics on the tubes.”

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