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Christmas in Clifton

Holiday homes tour, horses on parade, kicks off the holiday season in the Town of Clifton this Saturday.

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Performing last year at Clifton Presbyterian Church are Chantilly High School's Elite Singers (front row): Christina Smillie, Leah Van Blaricon, Christina Kruger, Bethany Kroese and Lani Kroese. (Back row): David Harsh, Chris Smith and Anicka Pathammavong.

Get ready for some holiday magic — the kind that can only be found in Clifton. The Historic Clifton Candlelight Tour will take place Saturday, Dec. 6 in downtown Clifton. Co-chairing the seventh-annual event are Lynne Garvey-Hodge and Jennifer Chesley.

"This has always been one of my favorite town traditions," said Chesley. "Every year, I walk around I hear the ooohs and aaahs, and the positive comments. It gives me a great feeling."

It all begins Saturday from 2-3 p.m. with the Caroling on Horseback Parade along Main Street followed by costume judging, cookies and caroling at King Field on Chapel Street.

From 4:30-7 p.m., five homes will be festively decorated for the holidays. The event includes strolling Dickens Carolers, live music in the town churches and the neighborhood decorated with luminaries. The Clifton Baptist Church will host the musical duo of flutist Gail and her friend Karen on the harp, followed by Marcio Botelho's string trio. Chantilly High's choral singers will be performing holiday favorites at Clifton Presbyterian Church.

From 7:30-8 p.m., caroling will take place in the Ayres Town Square along with roasting of marshmallows, hot chocolate and the lighting of the Christmas Tree at 8 p.m.

"Not only do you have the lovely homes, we have the choirs, the tree-lightning events and the strolling Dickens characters," said Chesley. "They dress up in costume and sing Christmas Carols."

The homeowners who will be showing their festive homes are:

* Tom and Wendy Burdette, Clifton Heights Lane. This warm and inviting home is a "newcomer" to Clifton, sitting at the end of a pipe-stem situated at the edge of the Town of Clifton proper. Decorated in a Country French style with antique oak accent pieces, the owners prefer a traditional Christmas and holiday theme. The ornaments on the Christmas Tree have been collected for 23 years and reflect the life of a growing family.

* Jim and Becky Witt, Clifton Heights Lane. As one steps into this lovely home, one will hear the music of harpist Robin Brinkmann. Note the copper accessories throughout the home, which were bought while the couple traveled overseas to Greece and Turkey. The over-sized ceramic teapot in the living room is from Japan, setting the stage for a number of Asian decorative elements found through the home: six woodblock prints in the living room and one in the dining room by Japanese artist Kiyoshi Saito as well as antique cast iron Japanese teapots in the family room.

* Paul and Arlene Posner, Main Street. This charming Clifton home's architecture is typical of the early farmhouse style seen in abundance throughout the town. The first mayor of Clifton, Robert R. Buckley built this home in 1896. He later served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. It is a home with many fun "secrets" and "treasures." Of significance was a previous owner, Jeffrey Arch, who wrote the book "Sleepless in Seattle" while living there. The Posners have traveled the world and the treasures they have found abroad now adorn their home.

* Steve and Kim Bittner, "Mayhugh Tavern" on Chapel Street. The Bittners are relatively newcomers to Clifton and have found the history of their home and decorated it in a complimentary fashion. The home was moved to its current location in the 1970s. It originally faced the railroad tracks. It was originally a tavern and the exterior window and door combinations attest to a door for the tavern and a door for sleeping rooms.

* Brant Baber and Kathy Kalinowski, Ford Lane. This Victorian era home was built by the Ford family in 1880. The Fords owned the General Store in Clifton, which was located on the site now occupied by the Heart in Hand Restaurant. The Baber and Kalinowski have lived here since 1980. In 1987, local architect Jim Hricko designed an addition for the owners that created a library for the first floor and extended the basement apartment. In 2002, Jim Hricko designed a new kitchen and dining area within the confines of the original structure.

Also on tour are:

* Clifton Baptist Church. The Clifton Baptist Church stands as a reminder of our American heritage and the freedom to worship together. Clifton Baptist Church was admitted into the Potomac Baptist Association in August 1875. Services were first held in the home of George W. Tillet along with other men who served with Mosby's Rangers during the Civil War. The first building was constructed in 1988 at the intersection of Main and Chapel Streets. The cornerstone of the present building was laid at the same intersection in Nov. 24, 1910.

* Clifton Presbyterian Church, Richardson Lane. The Clifton Presbyterian Church has been serving the community as a place of worship and community life since its founding in 1870 by the families of soldiers who fought during the Civil War and who settled here after the war was over. In the early part of the 1900s, the church acquired the manse next door and then in the 1950s added the annex for classroom, office and fellowship space. Tickets are $15/adults and $5/children under 12, and are available at most Clifton shops. For more information, contact Lynn Garvey-Hodge at 703-322-1811 or Jennifer Chesley at 703-830-2129.