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Holiday Happenings, from Tunes To Turkey

Some seasonal fun will benefit charity.

Family, fun and a bit of frivolity. It's the holiday season, and from Thanksgiving through December's many celebrations there is plenty to experience in and around Arlington.

This is just a sampling of some of the activities being held during the holiday season. There are places to go, and things to see. But remember, as in every holiday season, the greatest memories are at times based on who you're with rather than where you are.

<sh>Gulf Branch Creations

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Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Rd., is offering a few December programs for holiday gift creation.

On Thursday, Dec. 7 the center will host a Holiday Animal Crafts workshop from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. The program, geared for ages 5-10 accompanied by an adult, will offer the opportunity to create ornaments and decorations inspired by animals and nature. There is a $5 fee and registration is required. Visit https://registration.arlingtonva.us/vsiwebtrac.html or call 703-228-4747.

On Friday, Dec. 8, the center will host a soap brewing seminar for ages 12 and older from 6:30 - 8 p.m. The soap is created with basic "melt and pour" soap base. The center provides soap-making materials, including molds, color and other additives. There will also be crafters who will explain about soap-making lore — hey, you need something to do while the soap is solidifying, right?

There is a $3 fee per soap tray. Visit https://registration.arlingtonva.us/vsiwebtrac.html or call 703-228-4747 for more information and registration.

<sh>Light Up Rosslyn

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This holiday season the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is strengthening its partnership with the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network to help eradicate homelessness in the county.

Starting Nov. 30, businesses throughout Rosslyn will have collection boxes in their lobbies where people can donate blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, warm clothing, shoes and socks for homeless individuals. The drive lasts until Dec. 7.

“From the start property owners and managers in Rosslyn have said they want to help address the issue of homelessness in their community,” said Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Rosslyn BID.

Clothing donations for A-SPAN can be dropped off at the Rosslyn BID office at 1911 N. Fort Myers Drive. Monetary donations may be made by visiting www.a-span.org or calling 703-820-HELP.

For the first time the Rosslyn BID is hosting a gala to raise money and awareness for A-SPAN, which was started in 1991 and aims to assist homeless people to move off the streets and regain self-sufficiency.

Last year the organization provided counseling, housing assistance and employment training to more than 850 individuals.

The event will be on Nov. 30, from 6-9 p.m. at the Top of the Town, located at 1400 N. 14th Street. Tickets are $60 and proceeds benefit A-SPAN. The ceremony will include food, live music and a silent auction.

“Our collaboration last year with A-SPAN was very successful and we wanted to find a way to expand our collaboration with them,” Cassidy said.

The 13th annual Light Up Rosslyn event, during which property owners illuminate their rooftops, will take place on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. under the WJLA-TV JumboTron.

County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman and WJLA/ABC-7 personalities will flip an eight-foot light switch, which will turn on the roof-top lighting of more than 50 Rosslyn buildings.

“The lights really define the Rosslyn skyline during the winter season and is a celebration of Rosslyn as the urban heart of Arlington,” Cassidy said.

Live music will be provided by the Beltway Brass and The Metropolitan Chorus, along with complimentary hot drinks and chili.

Clothing donations for A-SPAN can be dropped off at the Rosslyn BID office at 1911 N. Fort Myers Drive. Monetary donations may be made by visiting www.a-span.org or call 703-820-HELP.

<sh>Washington-Lee Winter Bazaar

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Washington-Lee High School will hold its annual Winter Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the senior class to help fund graduation activities and senior prom, said Terry Bell, one of the organizers of the event.

Now in its third decade, the bazaar features more than 130 vendors, a flea market, and crafts and antiques for sale. Twenty student groups will be selling everything from t-shirts to pottery to ethnic food. Santa Claus will be on hand to take pictures with children and the Madrigal Singers, one of the school’s choral group, will perform Christmas carols.

“It’s such a fun, festive, family tradition,” said Rosa M. Reyes, an English teacher at Washington-Lee and the senior class sponsor.

Reyes contends it’s the best place to get all your holiday gifts,

“This is a one-stop location where your kids can have fun, you can buy stocking stuffers, and you can get something to eat,” she added. Admission is free and parking is available on the Stafford Street side of the school, which is at 1300 N. Quincy Street in Arlington, VA. For additional information, call Rosa Reyes at 703-228-6200.

<sh>Artists Alliance

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Those looking for a unique, and reasonably priced, piece of original artwork as a holiday gift should be able to find it at the annual Arlington Artists Alliance Winter Art Show.

The Alliance will showcase the paintings, pottery and woodwork of 35 artists during its three-day event, running from Dec. 1-4. The fourth annual Winter Art Show will be held at the historic Hendry House, a renovated late 19th century farm house, in Fort C.F. Smith park.

The public can meet the exhibiting artists during the opening reception on Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s fun for people to see what local artists are doing, and you can get some very nice pieces of original artwork,” said Beth Hudgins, the show’s coordinator and a member of the Arlington Artists Alliance’s board of directors.

The Star Dust Dance Band will be performing a combination of oldies and swing songs on Saturday from 2-4 p.m., on the front porch of the Hendry House during the art exhibition. Liz Macklin will be doing an interactive demonstration on making holiday cards and wrapping paper.

The park is located at 2411 N. 24th Street and the event is free. Hours: Friday Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday Dec. 3 from noon to 4 p.m. For further information contact Beth Hudgins at 703-532-4450.

<sh>Holidays at Pentagon City

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The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is officially launching its 17th Holiday Shopping Season with several special events.

Until Dec. 31, there is a Simon Visa Giftcard promotion. Purchase a Simon Visa Giftcard with any Visa product and receive a vintage gift tin; bring the tin back to the mall on Friday, Nov. 24 to be eligible to win Simon Visa Giftcards valued up to $500 awarded to lucky shoppers at the top of every hour. Registration is located near Guest Services in Center Court.

Photos with Santa will be held daily until Dec. 24. Santa is located at the holiday tree in Center Court. Photo packages are available.

On Nov. 19, there will be a Simon Day of Giving shopping event from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Offers from more than 75 mall retailers, a strolling fashion show and live entertainment will be showcased. Tickets can be purchased from Guest Services for $10. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit participating local charities and the Simon Youth Foundation. Visit www.fashioncentrepentagon.com for more information.

On "Black Friday," Nov. 24, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will open at 5 a.m., with all stores open by 6 a.m. From Nov. 25 through Dec., 24, there will be holiday gift-wrapping to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Simon Youth Foundation. The gift services will be located on the second level.

<sh>Ballston Mall

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Ballston Common Mall offers several Santa-centric options for the holidays.

Santa arrives at the mall the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24. "We don't have a formal arrival. Some malls bring him out on a motorcycle or a horse," said Selina Tolentino, publicity for Ballston Common Mall.

The Arlington Jaycees sponsor Santa photos on Friday, Nov. 24, from noon - 6 p.m. After that, photos are available from noon - 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 25 through Dec. 16. After that, photos are available from noon - 9 p.m. every day until Dec. 22, except Dec. 17 when they end at 6 p.m. Photos with Santa are held on Dec. 23 and 24 from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

The Jaycees also sponsor pet photos with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 3 and 10 from 7 - 9 p.m. Pet photos also benefit The Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Holiday giftwrapping, also sponsored by the Jaycees, follows the same schedule as Santa photos. Both are found in the food court near the holiday tree.

There's also a special attraction involving Santa at Ballston this year.

"The one thing that we're adding this year is a breakfast with Santa on Nov. 9," said Tolentino.

The Arlington Jaycees and Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM) will be hosting a “Breakfast with Santa” on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. A buffet breakfast will be served and Santa will be in his workshop greeting everyone and taking pictures. The Jaycees will serve as Santa’s helpers by taking photos and NOVAM staff and volunteers will greet all guests and ensure smooth registration for the event.

The breakfast will be held from 9 - 11 a.m. Admission is $8 per person, with children 3-and-under free. For reservations, please call Rock Bottom at 703-516-7688 or visit www.novam.org.

<sh>Talking Turkey

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When it comes to turkey, Butterball remains the gold standard for holiday birds.

The company recently held a Butterball Turkey Thanksgiving study that surveyed the Thanksgiving habits for Americans during the holiday, sampling 1,533 adults. Among the findings:

v The average number of days that Americans begin thinking about Thanksgiving before Turkey Day is 5.8 days.

v Getting everything done on time was the most stressful aspect of Thanksgiving, according to 38 percent of respondents. Thirty-five percent of the respondents cited clean-up as the second most stressful.

v Mom and grandma combined make up the most popular resource that people go to for advice on their holiday turkeys.

v Sixty-six percent of respondents said that the woman in their household most likely cooks the holiday bird. The person least likely? Grandpa, with only 0.3 percent of respondents putting him to work on Turkey Day.

v One-third of respondents said leftovers are their favorite aspect of the holiday.

v According to the Butterball Talk-Line, it takes four days to thaw out a frozen turkey. According to the survey, more than half of the respondents begin thawing just 1-2 days before the holiday.

v Nearly half of the respondents say they are afraid of serving a dry bird. But according to Butterball, the turkey won't dry out if a meat thermometer is used to determine when the bird is fully cooked. Temps should reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh.

Butterball has launched a new podcast series called "TurkeyTalk" this year, which is available on the Web site www.Butterball.com. As always, the Turkey Talk-Line is available at 1-800-BUTTERBALL.

<sh>The Nutcrackers

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No less than three very different takes on the classic tale of "The Nutcracker" will be held in the area during December.

From Dec. 1-3, the Center Dance Company will present its traditional holiday performance of "The Nutcracker." Choreography is by Nancie Woods and Caroline Warren.; for example, last year's edition featured a 1940s-style dance routine.

Shows are held on Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.arldance.org.

At Classika Theater, 4041 S. 28th Street, an unusual production of “The Nutcracker” will be staged from Dec. 9-31 and Jan. 6-28.

Classika’s Executive Director Alyona Ushe said the show is uses puppets and actors to tell the story, with some of the puppets "created on stage." Adapted by Inna Shapiro and Lilia Slavova, it features elegant sets and the musical score by Peter Tchaikovsky.

The show plays Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m., with special holiday performances on Dec. 26 and 28 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 advance and $15 at the door. Visit www.classika.org for more information.

On Dec. 3, the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble presents its most popular concert of the holiday season: "A Stan Kenton Christmas with the Duke Ellington Nutcracker."

The ensemble, an offshoot of the U.S. Army Band, traditionally offers Kenton's take on holiday classics. Ellington's "The Nutcracker" is added to the mix. "It's 'The Nutcracker,' good 'ole Tchaikovsky, but with a jazz twist," said Jen Maly, director of marketing for the band.

"A Stan Kenton Christmas with the Duke Ellington Nutcracker" will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road. Call 703-696-3399 or visit www.usarmyband.com for more information.