Main Street of Yesteryear
I mentioned in the post about Dinosaur Land that we had a few rainy days on our recent road trip. We stayed the third night in Virginia, just west of the Shenandoah National Park. While scrambling to find indoor destinations, I found a museum of parade floats that looked just strange enough to add to our list, and it wasn't too far off our route.
The museum is part of Shenandoah Caverns, and we arrived before the parade float museum was supposed to open, so we had some time to kill in the gift shop. Luckily, in addition to the gift shop, there's an exhibit of antique department store window displays from the 40s and 50s occupying the entire second floor.
The former owner of Shenandoah Caverns, Earl Hargrove, Jr., also owned a decorating corporation that has, beginning with President Truman in 1949, decorated for every Presidential Inaugural since. The parade float museum includes floats from Inaugurals, the Tournament of Roses and other celebrations, but he was also a collector of holiday window displays, which are displayed in an exhibit called Main Street of Yesteryear.
The displays vary widely in style and theme, but they all animate in some way (triggered by sensors on the floor). One of the displays (for Easter, I think) featured a talent show, with an organ-grinding poodle, a raccoon balancing a disco ball on his nose, creepy swinging bunnies and a judge that looks like he would be right at home in Halloweentown.
My favorite display was Circus on Parade, the oldest in the exhibit. The handcrafted figures have such wonderful detail and are still vibrant and beautiful after all of these years. Holiday window displays are always one of my favorite parts about this time of year in the city, and I'm so glad that someone like Earl Hargrove Jr. was passionate enough to save these works of art. It turns out that the parade float museum was closed for the season (never trust Google hours), but Main Street of Yesteryear (and the squished penny I got in the gift shop) was definitely worth the stop.
261 Caverns Road,
Quicksburg, VA 22847
Main Street of Yesteryear is free, and can be viewed without caverns admission
March 15-June 15: 9 AM-5 PM
June 16-Labor Day: 9 AM-6 PM
Labor Day-Oct 31: 9 AM-5 PM
Nov 1-March 15: 9 AM-4 PM