Hundreds of people turned out for the lighting of the menorah and Christmas tree at Pat Miller Square in Del Ray on Sunday night, December 5.
The evening was full of families and friends caroling with hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Retiring Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne made the countdown to light the 30-foot-tall tree.
“Thank you for 43 years of supporting me,” Lawhorne said. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Last year’s public tree lighting was canceled by the pandemic, and the event was a little smaller than in years past. Santa Claus, for instance, made a drive-by appearance, but was unable to stop for photos due to his busy schedule.
The Del Ray Menorah and Christmas tree lightings are happening this Sunday (Dec. 5) night on Mount Vernon Avenue, but Santa Claus won’t be making an appearance due to COVID-19.
It’s the 11th straight year that Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn of the Homegrown Restaurant Group selected and cut down the tree at the Naughty Pines Nursery in Maryland, and donated it to the Del Ray Business Association. Additionally, BMC Smoot donated a flatbed truck and a driver to haul the 30-foot-tall tree to Del Ray, and Mike Dameron of Windmill Hill donated his cherrypicker crane to put it in place on Tuesday (Nov. 30).
Over the weekend, volunteers also decorated street signs and poles with pine and jingle balls on Mount Vernon Avenue.
“Mike and I are big into traditions,” Blackburn told ALXnow. “It’s really fun to see del ray transform into the holiday season, and it’s all done privately by volunteers, businesses and citizens. There’s no bid or city dollars spent on decorations.”
The Menorah and tree lighting is free to attend, and will includes holiday caroling. It will be at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square. The Avenue will also be lined with luminarias to honor the late Nancy Dunning.
Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts are more are planned for a Hanukkah ceremony in Alexandria tonight (Tuesday) scheduled to culminate with lighting candles on six-foot-tall menorah outside the Lyceum (201 S. Washington Street).
“Experience the festival of lights,” said host Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington on Facebook. “Come and share in the spirit and Joy of Chanukah at The Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting in Old Town Alexandria at The Lyceum.”
The program is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
The program will include live music and a free light stick for every child. Pre-packaged potato latkes will be offered, along with hot cocoa, donuts, chocolate gelt and dreidels.
Capacity for the ceremony is limited so earlier registration is required. Masks and social distancing will also be required.
“We have a maximum amount of spaces available for this event,” Chabad Lubavitch said. “We will close reservations once we are full. All attendees must maintain mandatory 6 foot distancing between family units and wear appropriate face masks (when not eating). Do not attend if you have been exhibiting or exposed to someone with any COVID-19 symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test.”
‘Legendary’ Local Merchant Family Retiring — “When members of the Dove family first started bringing their produce and flowers to Alexandria’s Market Square at 301 King Street, the clippity clop of their horses’ hooves provided the soundtrack on the trip to and fro… Saturday, December 21, 2019 was the end of the era. The Dove Family retired, selling their last boxwood tree and bits of seasonal holly at the Old Town Farmers Market on a sunny morning [after] nearly 200 years of entrepreneurship.” [Zebra]
Christmas Tree Safety Reminder from AFD — “Unattended Christmas trees can become a fire hazard if not watered regularly. @NFPA reports that each year, an average of 160 home fires start with Christmas trees. Show your tree a little love to prevent fires this holiday season.” [Twitter]
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from ALXnow — We wish all of our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy Hanukkah. ALXnow’s staff will be taking this afternoon and Christmas Day off. We’ll be back Thursday with more local news coverage.