COLUMBIA — Four-year-old Sylvoni Sanders had no fear as he jumped in the middle of the Rock Bridge Breakdance Crew to show off his own moves.
Sanders received eager applause from the Perlow-Stevens Gallery audience when he held his body still for seconds in a handstand, styled after the older boys' moves. As he heard the cheers, the small boy retreated to the safety of his mother's embrace.
The gallery's exhibit Friday was part of the Living Windows Festival, and the breakdancing performance inside had the room packed the entire night.
The yearly event celebrates the holiday season with activities such as carriage rides, caroling and roasting chestnuts for a festive treat. Businesses also add their own things to do, such as the face painting offered at Mustard Seed Fair Trade.
"We saw this panda girl and we loved it, so we asked them to make us pandas, too," said Danielle Schneider, 10, explaining her and her best friend Asa Pojmann's face art.
The animal paintings were inspired by the store's theme, "It's a Small World; A Christmas Safari."
The Mustard Seed was one of 20 downtown businesses that participated by decorating their windows, donning costumes and acting out holiday scenes.
"It was the retailers' creation. They were inspired by the Christmas window displays and the Kansas City Plaza," said Persephone Dakopolos, the coordinator of the Living Windows festival and The District's director of business services.
The event, which has occurred for nearly 20 years, expanded this year from last year's 17 decorated stores. Dakopolos attributed the growth to past participants spreading the word.
Columbia residents have also taken notice.
"It's had its seasons where it kind of drops down, but it's a great year for it; the weather's perfect," said Diane Parish, who attends Living Windows every year. "There's a lot more people coming out now. It's really grown. People look forward to it."
Parish said she loves watching the window display at Maude Vintage because of its creativity.
Some attendees can't pick just one window, though. Jaden Placke, 7, said she liked "mostly just all" of the displays, though her favorite part was when she and her sister, Polly, 8, sang for the Lee Elementary carolers.
The second-graders also played bells for onlookers. Carolers of every age strolled the streets along with musicians, and dogs received attention from animal-loving kids and adults alike.
Festival attendee Amy Schneider, Danielle Schneider's mother, summed up the appeal of the event in two words.
"It's fun," she said.