Alison Starling said that when she moved back to the Washington, D.C. area three years ago, she was drawn to Alexandria as her new home because she fell in love with its "sense of neighborhood and history."
Proximity didn’t hurt, either. Besides being within a reasonable distance of the District, it’s also near Rosslyn, home to the ABC7/WJLA-TV newsroom where Starling co-anchors "Good Morning Washington" with Doug McKelway.
Starling was born in Florida and graduated from the University of Florida. She moved back to the D.C. area for the third time in 2003, after living here as a child while her father worked for the U.S. Trade Representative and later while working as a summer Congressional intern. She joined WJLA in August 2003 after working as a reporter and anchor with a Seattle TV station. She has been co-anchor of Good Morning Washington and ABC7 News at Noon since January 2004.
Her work demands that she stay connected with the rest of the world, but escaping it is one of the reasons she enjoys coming home to Alexandria. "Yet you really feel removed when you’re in Old Town especially, surrounded by all this history. It’s just a really special place," said Starling.
She also come to love some of the dining options in town. Her favorite local eatery is Restaurant Eve in Old Town, where she recently celebrated a birthday. Lately, Starling said, she’s been venturing over to Del Ray and has come to enjoy dining at the Evening Star Café.
STARLING WILL SERVE as the Grand Marshal of the 36th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend from Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, leading over 100 Scottish Clans, pipe and drum bands, dancers, dog groups and more in the parade scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10:30 a.m.
The Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will begin at the corner of Wilkes and South Pitt Streets and proceed to The Campagna Center. The parade finale is a massed band concert at 418 South Washington Street.
She said she also expects to appear at the Christmas Marketplace event over the weekend.
The Christmas Walk is one of the largest fundraising activities for The Campagna Center, Alexandria’s oldest and largest not-for-profit human services organization that serves children and families in need. Starling has previously served as the Honorary Co-Chair of the Center’s "The Toast to Alexandria" event.
Starling took some time recently to answer a few questions about her charitable work with The Campagna Center and about her role in this year’s Scottish Christmas Walk:
<cl>So how does one become Grand Marshal?
<bt>I don’t know! (Laughs) I guess they were looking for someone who recognized the impact of the Campagna Center on the area. Living in Alexandria is also a part of it, because I know how important the Scottish Heritage is to the town. I guess I was just lucky enough to be connected to them. I’m excited. I still feel like when I do these things that I’m a glorified spectator — just happy to be there and take it all in, just from a different vantage point.
<cl>Have you ever done anything like this before?
<bt>I’ve done similar things. Earlier this year, my co-anchor Doug McKelway and I emceed the Cherry Blossom parade downtown, which was great — we did that with Pat Sajak, and he’s hilarious. I get to do similar activities like that from time to time, but this is the first one in Alexandria and the first one that centers around the Scottish heritage.
<cl>Do you have some Scottish heritage?
<bt>I do. My great grandmother was a McCord, so I have some on my mother’s side. But I’m such a mixture of things on both sides that I don’t have any [heritage] that predominant.
<cl>You have a bit of history with the Campagna Center.
<bt>I wanted to try and get involved with some community work specific to where I live. I heard about the Campagna Center from some neighbors who were involved. I’ve emceed some of their fundraisers, and actually went to some of their schools where they have their head start programs and talked with some of the teachers and parents. I feel like I know the Center well.
<cl>What was it about the Center and its programs that attracted you to them?
<bt>It’s their connection to Alexandria — they help so many kids. Thousands of kids benefit from their programs. The Head Start program is so important to local kids.