Tiny mice are checking in at the “The Grand Mouse Hotel” for the holidays. Or at least entertaining those passing by the Red Rooster shop downtown Missoula on Higgins.
Miniature felt mice carrying pocket-size suitcases arrived for their stay on Thursday, where they’ll spend the holiday season greeting window shoppers from each floor of the “hotel.”
This is the fifth iteration of the “Mouse House,” which Red Rooster owner Kim Boyle designs each year with a different theme. Boyle spent over 100 hours preparing the display and retrofitting materials from previous years to fit this year’s theme, based off the Wes Anderson film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
“The movie felt so whimsical in nature, and it just felt like the mice would want their own Grand Budapest Hotel,” she said.
The delightful holiday display features glistening snowy pines that frame the hotel while a chairlift transports mice overhead. In the corner, another sweater-clad mouse skates in circles on a pond while another mouse in a red plaid shirt and snow pants prepares to ski.
Boyle unveiled the display last week at a party where an eager crowd of kids donning mouse ears searched the store’s interior for hidden mice in a scavenger hunt.
Boyle's granddaughter, Nora Boyle, a second-grader at Paxson Elementary School, helped lead the scavenger hunt and handed notecards containing hints to each guest.
Kids sipped on apple cider while their parents and grandparents sipped on champagne and browsed cookware, kitchen linens, ornaments and decor.
In exchange for finding eight wooden mouse heads hidden throughout the store, the event’s younger attendees received a small tin suitcase filled with candy, Swedish peppermint sticks and popcorn.
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Toni Matlock has been coming to the event every year since it started with her 5-year-old son, Otto.
“I appreciate all of the creativity and seeing all of the miniatures, and it’s also a fun celebration for the kids,” Matlock said.
Matlock has been a regular customer at the store for years and said that shopping locally is important to her.
The inside of the store is as intricately decorated for the event, with garland, ornaments and holiday baking mixes lining the shelves and spilling out of drawers.
A pine-scented fragrance filled the shop while “It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” played softly in the background.
Boyle’s granddaughter, Nora, said it’s her favorite way to usher in the holiday season.
“It smells awesome, and I love how last year, it was a play and it was very detailed.” she said. “There was a cat that went up a ladder and then down it, and it’s just amazing.”
Previous years' themes have included Bavarian Alps, and a theater with a puppet show. Jenae Floyd, who works at the store, wore a mouse pin for the event.
“It really puts the magic back in Christmas,” Floyd said. “And it brings it back for the adults.”