Other cities may welcome the holiday season with elaborate decorations, Santas on every corner, or even live reindeer in the town square, but none does it as "tartan" as Alexandria.
This Saturday, more than 100 Scottish clans will strut through Old Town as the Campagna Center and the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C., kick off the 34th annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend with a parade featuring pipe and drum bands, Scottish dancers, re-enactment groups, Scottish dog groups and even Santa Claus.
Serving as this year's parade grand marshal will be two-time Olympic Team gymnast Courtney Kupets. She will be joined by a variety of elected officials and other dignitaries, including the lord provost of Dundee, Scotland, according to Jennifer Sobich, spokesperson, Campagna Center.
Beginning at 10:30 a.m., the parade will step off from the corner of Wilkes and South Pitt streets. It will wind its way through Old Town, ending back at Wolfe and South St. Asaph streets, where a massed band concert is planned as the grand finale. In addition to the map shown in this newspaper, there is a version available online at www.scottishchristmaswalk.com.
The weekend festivities start on Thursday, Dec. 2, with the opening of A Christmas Marketplace and Cafe at Campagna Center, 418 S. Washington St., from noon-5 p.m. It will be open again on Friday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
A wide array of decorative and potential gift items from area craftspeople and retailers are featured at the Marketplace. These are complimented by the sale of fresh heather bundles, wreaths, garland, flatwoods, paperwhites and much more, to turn any residence into a holiday spectacular.
Friday night, Dec. 3, from 7-10:30 p.m., the Center hosts the lord provost, as more than 500 guests, many in kilts and other tartan attire, fill large tents at the rear of the property to sample hard-to-find, rare scotches direct from Scotland distilleries, complimented by a variety of party foods.
Advance tickets ranging from $55-$90 are required. The variance is determined by the type of ticket desired: Premier Patron, $90; Patron, $75; or Regular, $55. They can be acquired by calling 703-549-0111 or online at www.scottishchristmaswalk.com.
For those needing extra incentive to get into the holiday decorating spirit, there is the annual Holiday Designer Tour of Homes on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. This year
eight homes are featured on the tour, for an advance purchase price of $20, or $25 for purchase the day of the tour. Advance ticket purchase is recommended and can be made by calling 703-549-0111 or online at www.scottishchristmaswalk.com. Tickets are also available at each home. However, they are sold only as a package covering all homes on the tour, according to a Campagna Center spokesperson. A map listing the sites is available online.
Proceeds raised by these events go to support the various programs sponsored by Campagna Center, a nonprofit organization serving the children and families of Alexandria. These include Head Start and Early Head Start; Campagna Kids, before- and after-school child care; 21st Century Community Learning Center; Wright to Read, tutoring for elementary students reading below grade level; and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).