I told a friend at work that I was going to throw a stapler at the next person to use the phrase “it’s that time of year again”. Lately, it seems that all the emails I get start out that way. So far, my stapler has remained on my desk but that is more of a testament to how much I enjoy paying my electricity bill and not to other’s restraint in using hackneyed phrases.
So, I am avoiding that phrase when I say it was Dickens of a Christmas festival here this weekend. Of all of our festivals, this has got to be one of the best. The weather can be iffy and this year was a prime example. The forecast was good up until Friday night, when I heard the first report of a cold front to blow through on Saturday. Even with blustery cold blowing in Saturday around noon, the whole weekend was great. Sunday was brisk but anyone who let it keep them indoors missed out on lots of fun activities without the thronging crowds.
This was the first year for me to make it to the official tree lighting ceremony. I was surprised by the number of people who gathered on the lawn of Mitchell Park and along Church Street to hear Mayor Loughmiller count down to the official lighting. Everyone was happy and friendly and the children were, for the most part, well behaved. The little girl next to me must have been tuckered out. One minute she was going strong, being extraordinarily cute. The next minute, she was sound asleep in her mother’s arms.
I took my old camera that can capture video.
I know the quality of the video leaves much to be desired, so here’s a still shot of the tree taken after the crowds let up.
Crystal Yates, a local but well-traveled singer, sang several songs before and after the lighting. I’m often amazed at the talent that lives here. I am only half joking when I say that there must be something in the water. Again, the video quality is awful in the video below, but the audio stands on its own.
Friday evening on the square was great. The store’s stayed open later (they were supposed to stay open until 8, at least). The pubs were packed. Not a seat in the house left in Churchill’s and we were lucky to get two seats at the bar at The Pub.
It was worth setting the alarm for early on Saturday morning to get to watch the Believe races kick off. They had a 10k, a 5k, and a kid’s Santa chase. The 10k starts earliest and is for serious runners only. It has a long route that goes down around Town Lake Center and back. The 5k is a mix of serious runners and casual runners pushing a stroller or running with their dogs.
The real reason I set my alarm for Saturday morning is the Great Santa Chase. It’s short. It’s over in an instant but it is so much fun. The kids line up behind a banner at the intersection of Wood and Virginia starting at 8 AM. Then Santa comes and, after talking to the kids a bit, they take their positions. At 8:15, they’re off. The kids outpace Santa pretty quickly but the whole thing is just so cute.
The rest of Dickens weekend is a pretty relaxed schedule. There are lots of activities running all of the time. MPAC had several showings of A Christmas Carol during the weekend and will have more shows next weekend.
Music filled the square. There were carolers dressed in Victorian garb.
A barbershop quartet serenaded Santa with a medley of Christmas songs.
Violinists played in front of the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
There was another violinist down beside Churchill’s Pub.
I was a little disappointed to not see the wooden carousel again this year but I think the city made a good call on its replacement. On Tennesee Street, there was a tent for 30-minute magic shows and an ice skating rink on Kentucky Street. The carousel was prettier but I think that these new activities were far more engaging.
The winter theme was well-rounded. Snow blew from the rooftops along Tennessee Street every hour on the hour. I’m not sure what the snow was made of. It blew through the streets perfectly … just like the real stuff … but I was a little worried for the folks who tried to catch a piece of it with their tongues.
Frosty’s train was popular throughout the weekend.
I even saw some adults enjoying the snow hill on Louisiana Street.
I made it by the HandCrafter’s Fair at the Historic Flour Mill and I hope that that becomes an annual event. SweetArt Bakery was out of their Red Velvet cupcakes but I bought a Vanilla cupcake and a strawberry truffle a piece for my mom, my husband, and myself. Their truffles are fantastic. So moist that I’m not sure if it was cupcake inside or strawberry creme. This event was a great excuse to see the Mill and there were a lot of great crafts inside.
The only thing I didn’t get to do this weekend was to try Spoon’s Pumpkin soup. Several people have recommended it and I made an effort to stop by a couple of times but they had a considerable wait each time. My mom and I were able to get a table at Sauce on Saturday and they have an excellent tomato basil soup and on Sunday my husband and I found that The Pantry has a good chili – a perfect dish for the weather that has just recently blown in.
It’s been such a good weekend, I hate to see it end. Of course, there’s next weekend to look forward to. The Parade of Lights was almost thirty minutes long last year. Take chairs and scope out a place to sit and take in the parade early. It starts at 6:30 on December 3rd, downtown.
That weekend is also the Chestnut Square’s 2011 Holiday Tour of Homes. You can buy tickets online by following the link. The “stunning Tudor” they mention has always been one of my favorite houses in the District.
There’s a fair bit of news from the square as far as new businesses opening and old businesses closing so that will have to be a separate post.
Until next time,