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A giant advent calendar takes pride of place in downtown Jacksonville | Main stories

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (WAND) — Downtown Jacksonville is in the holiday spirit with a new advent calendar.

Farmers State Bank and Trust Company used its 24 windows to create one of the world’s tallest advent calendars. Until December 25, every day in the windows of the 1913 building, one icon of the Nativity will be opened.

“We are honored to use our building to grace the holidays with this fantastic display,” said Joy French Becker, president and chairman of the board. “We hope everyone can come out to Central Park in Jacksonville and celebrate the countdown to Christmas with the Jacksonville community.”

Just because this calendar is the size of a building doesn’t mean holiday guests will miss the goodies. The bank invited the public into the lobby and driveways for a treat.

Retired English teacher Pat Kennedy came up with the idea while on vacation in Jacksonville’s Central Park. Kennedy began counting the windows and realized they would be lining up for the Advent calendar.

“It was evident almost instantly,” Kennedy said. “It was the perfect location.”

Kennedy shared his idea with retired German teacher Jo Ann Nelson and designer Steven Varble. Nelson confirmed that similar displays appeared in Germany, and Varble agreed to help with the design. The group was able to win over the bank with its project.

“We were cautiously skeptical at first,” said Elizabeth Becker, the bank’s current executive vice president. “But the more we studied the idea, the more excited we became. Then we started looking online and found that while Europe has had slightly larger displays in the past, we believe it’s the highest today. My own children are thrilled to see the building transformed every day leading up to Christmas!”

Visitors can also sign up for prize giveaways, which the bank will provide until December.

Farmers Bank and Trust is located at 200 West State in downtown Jacksonville, Illinois. The bank lobby is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The display is most impressive at dusk and later, but can be viewed all day. The building will be illuminated every night until 2 am.

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