McLean has a sleigh-full of Christmas activities this weekend to kickoff the holiday season.
The activities include the Woman’s Club of McLean Holiday House Tour on Thursday; the Crafts Fair at the McLean Community Center through the weekend; WinterFest, which includes the Friday night lighting of the downtown Christmas tree; McLean's one and only Reindog pageant Saturday and our only community parade Sunday afternoon.
Curiously, WinterFest is McLean's only community-wide parade. McLean looks like a small town. Feels like a small town. But we don’t do the parades you find in small towns. No St. Patrick’s Day parade. Nothing for Memorial Day, July 4th or Veterans Day.
McLean once held parades. (There are pictures.) Then as we became upscale and sophisticated, we lost that symbol of small-town America.
Four years ago, the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce decided to change that. At the urging of now retired fire chief Clyde Clark, WinterFest was born, said Trish Butler, president of Sage Communications & Public Affairs LLC. She heads this year’s WinterFest Committee.
Yes it’s a way to get folks to shop downtown, but so is the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving Day in New York.
“McLean WinterFest truly is a community event, with many groups and local businesses working hard to make it a success,” according to Lynn Gulick, a steering committee member and senior vice president of Cardinal Bank. “We want this to be a McLean tradition and with the enthusiasm and support we’ve received from the community, we’re sure it will be.”
In promoting the parade, steering committee members are also reaching out to local businesses to help Share of McLean fill its pantry in preparation for the holidays. Share is an all-volunteer organization serving local families in need of food, clothing and furniture donations.
Here's your weekend schedule:
Thursday, Dec. 1 - Woman’s Club of McLean annual Holiday Homes Tour to raise money for various charities. In its 45th year, the Holiday Homes Tour will take place in Evans Farm Village. Four homes will be open to the public, as well as the historic Stone House, the only remaining building of the Evans Farm, which was converted to a townhouse development about 10 years ago. Each home has a chair and co-chair to oversee the decorating with a budget of $200 per home.
Evans Farm Village 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Advanced Ticket Price $25. Day of Tour $30.
Friday, Dec. 2. 5 p.m. Holiday Tree Lighting at Holiday Island in front of Rocco's Restaurant in downtown McLean. Free. Everyone come.
McLean Holiday Crafts Show. Friday through Sunday, McLean Community Center.
Saturday, Dec. 3. 8 a.m. Reindog Pageant at Langley Shopping Center - What is the Reindog Pageant? You dress up your dog to look like a reindeer, of course. This is the hokiest thing that happens (in public) in McLean. It's really great fun. They serve coffee, hot chocolate and donuts. Enough said.
Sunday, Dec. 4. 4 p.m. WinterFest Parade in downtown starting at Fleetwood Road down Old Chain Bridge Road to Elm Street. Peggy Fox, a reporter for WUSA-TV, and a McLean neighbor, will emcee the parade made up of local businesses and organizations and marching banks.
The Sierra Club will be there doing a "green transportation" theme and offering T-shirts free to anyone who decorates their bicycle and joins the Sierra Club group.
Pre-parade entertainment begins at 3:15 p.m. and feature performances from Bach to Rock, the Women’s Club of McLean, Kent Gardens and Spring Hill Elementary School children, and the McLean High School Dance Team.
Chain Bridge Road reopens about at 6:15 p.m.
Schedule of events on the parade website: www.mcleanwinterfest.org.