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An animated Christmas at Manteca Museum
This little girl in red, one of 11 Christmas figurines in the museum annex, stands next to a Christmas tree decorated with antique and vintage ornaments. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin
t’s a Christmas tableau that is making its debut at the Manteca Historical Museum this year.
They are the animated life-sized figures prominently displayed in the panoramic front window of the Museum Memorial Annex. They are a sight to behold in the daytime, but the scene really stands out at night when the lit display comes into sharp relief amid the darkness.
This visual treat is courtesy of the family of the late Lucille Fry who, with her late husband, founded the P.L. Fry & Son Funeral Home in Manteca which, in the last few years, has expanded to include branches in Tracy and Ripon.
Ken Summers, who is now manager of P.L. Fry & Son, said his grandmother collected the Christmas figures through the years with the first one going back about 20 years. Some of them were displayed in the office lobby of P.L. Fry here in Manteca, and some at their office in Tracy. After his grandmother passed away two years ago, they discovered more pieces at her home that were still in boxes and have never been opened. Summers said all family members decided it was best to have the entire set donated to the museum for the community to enjoy.
Manteca Historical Museum Director Evelyn Prouty said there are actually 14 pieces in the entire set that was donated by the family. For lack of space, they were not able to include three items including an animated piece showing a child in the act of climbing a ladder. Summer vividly remembers that piece.
“I used to set it up here at Christmas next to the Christmas tree,” he said, pointing to the corner in the Manteca office lobby where a large Christmas wreath on an easel now stands. They still have a Christmas tree, though, Summers said with a laugh, pointing to a decorated miniature tree atop the ornate antique organ next to the wreath.
Prouty said they will leave the display up to the end of the month. For viewing convenience, visitors can sit on the pair of benches located under the old towering oak tree just in front of the museum annex.