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Santa’s Shop Store Front Window: A Gift To Haile Village Center

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Mike and Annelle Rigsby are Haile Plantation residents who set out to gift the community last spring in a very big way. Using their artistic and engineering abilities, the couple has created a one of a kind animatronic window scape of Santa’s Shop in the Brightway Insurance office in Haile Village Center. After hundreds of hours of detailed robotic and artistic development the industrious couple say they were inspired to do something different for the community they have grown to love.

Mike, an electrical engineer handled the technical side of Santa’s Shop and Annelle, an artist, painted and designed the aesthetics. A variety of toys fill the colorful shelves and tiny elves depict various workshop activities. In all, the movement of Santa’s Shop lasts about three minutes and depicts a story of Santa directing his three elves, Elmer, Elsie, and Elfis. Then the elves get to work making toys and soon break for a snack. Santa tells them to get back to work and then the story replays every three minutes.

Using 60 servo motors, ten Arduinos (open-source electronic prototyping platforms), hundreds of 3D printed parts, paint, fabric, and polymer clay the couple has created a one of a kind Christmas window display that residents will be able to enjoy throughout the holiday season.

Mike says he is confident onlookers will stay to watch the intricate scene replay again and again each night and throughout the holiday season. As a child, growing up in Chattanooga, Mike says he remembers visiting downtown window displays and the feelings they would evoke about the holiday season.

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The Haile Village project is not the first attempt at creating window scapes and moving scenes for the couple. The Rigsby’s worked together to build Froggy World in 2013 and set it up set up for over 150,000 visitors at Maker Faire, San Mateo California. Their ‘Amusement Park for Adventurous Frogs’ attracted kids and adults, some who stayed for over an hour to witness all the detailed parts of the display. In the early nineties, while living in Sanibel Island the couple created a Christmas themed display, which remained in the public library for several years until a hurricane damaged it. Anelle says, “We were always wiping hand and nose prints from the lower portion of the window because small children were especially curious about the display.” She goes onto say, “The Sanibel project was more like a toy lobotomy in that we hunted down toys and then brought them to life with motors, and this project is completely original thanks to advances in technology, specifically the 3D printer.”

Mike says that 3D printers—which work by stacking layers of extruded polymer to create any object—are used most often in robotic fabrication and also widely used by in dentists’ offices to make crowns and even to make create prosthetic limbs. “I saw recently where someone designed and printed out a prosthetic bill for an injured duck with a 3D printer,” he said.

Through bringing together art, ingenuity, their sincere love for the community and their affinity for the Christmas season, the Rigsby’s creation is sure to mystify children of all ages.

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See the display from 5-9:00 every day in December, starting on November 27th before Light the Village. Located at Brightway Insurance, Haile Village Center, 9127 SW 52nd Avenue, Suite D-103, Gainesville, Florida.