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Getting Ready for the Holidays

Local businesses, churches and homes prepare for the festive season.

<bt>It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas just about everywhere you go in Mount Vernon. From churches preparing for their religious celebrations to private homes partaking in the season, touches of the holiday can be seen all over.

Bill Vaughan has spent the past few weeks preparing his home on Collingwood Road for the season. One of the more spectacular displays in Mount Vernon, Vaughan estimates that he has 108,000 lights. He started decorating the week before Thanksgiving and finished up this week.

“It’s taking me longer and longer,” Vaughan said.

Being the owner of his own construction company helps; Vaughan uses a cherry picker to put the lights on the house. Some of the trees, however, he has to do by hand from a ladder. Every year he loses about 6,000 lights—last year he lost over 10,000 because of the wind.

“The weather has not cooperated,” said Vaughan, who purchases replacement lights at sales after the holidays. He always tries to get something new, and this year he is hoping to have a special light show, if he can only get the software to download.

Vaughan said that he began decorating years ago when he lived in the little stone house down near Collingwood Road. When he built the large home up the hill that he and his family now reside in, he continued that tradition. One day, a volunteer from Manor Care Nursing Home, located right across the street, stopped by to say, “I wanted to stop and thank you for giving the residents so much joy. One of our patients liked the lights so much. This was her last Christmas; she has passed.”

With that, Vaughan knew that he had to keep on with his tradition. Indeed, the patient who currently resides in one of the rooms overlooking Vaughan’s property specifically asked for that room so that she could see the lights. She is in the hospital now, but is hoping to be placed in that room when she returns.

NOT ONLY DO THE RESIDENTS of the nursing home enjoy Vaughan’s lights, but passersby stream by all evening as well. It is best to view them from across the street — from the same side as Manor Care — as there is a place to pull over. Another spectacular display is on Plymouth Road. The Aldermans have once again festooned their yard and home in a dazzling combination of lights, colorful columns, star-laden trees and more.

Susan Johnson, wife of Plymouth Haven Baptist Church Rev. Tom Johnson, said that the parishioners, under the direction of Linda Brown, have been busy decorating the church, both inside and out. Aldersgate United Methodist held their annual Living Nativity this week; hot cider and doughnuts were welcome on these cold nights.

Non-profit groups are gearing up for the holidays collecting gifts and food for the needy. Several scouts from Boy Scout Troop 996 lent a hand at UCM’s Gift Room this week, helping to sort the hundreds of presents that will be distributed next week.

Another sure sign of the holidays was the fleeting appearance yesterday of several members of the Fairfax County Police motorcycle squad. They stopped by the Mount Vernon Government Center to pick up toys and donations. Decked out as Santa, Mrs. Claus, the elves and the Grinch, the police delivered those toys to sick and needy children at Inova Fairfax Hospital.