Fay Carter had a vision. As the owner of The Christmas Attic, she wanted to see "magic and wonder" and she didn’t want to wait until December.
After a very busy weekend along Union Street, it appears that her vision has paid off. Christmas in July brought in hundreds of people to shop and dine. On Fridays, there were parties along the block. Both Santa and the Grinch stopped by over the weekend. Both adults and children had lots of activities to keep them busy.
"We had a fantastic event," said Carter. "Every day seemed to be like a different event."
Friday evening was all about the partying and strolling — lots of happy smiling locals and many visitors. The Grinch added a fun touch to the stores that stayed open. Even though it was very hot, people were enjoying the festivities — and Union Street.
"Saturday was a family day with children and parents, locals and many visitors from the extended area. Families brought their children for a day of fun on Union Street. They met Santa and the Grinch, shopped for their Christmas ornaments, made cookies & crafts [at Union Street Public House], listened to a Christmas story & shopped a bit.
"Before the store opened its doors Saturday morning we had customers waiting to come into Mystique," said Elizabeth Mandros, owner/designer. "The entire day was back-to-back customers interested in our fine jewelry designs and featured in-house designer trunk show Alberto Parada.
"Every Saturday Mystique offers complimentary jewelry cleaning which also brought in many visitors that had not been in our store who live in Old Town Alexandria. Our complimentary jewelry cleaning is not just a simple cleaning but a full inspection of the jewel for damage or loose stones, then a quick buff, a ultrasonic bath and the final hot steam to bring a piece looking like it’s brand new, customers are amazed and happy.
"Having owned my store for 19 years on The Strand overlooking the waterfront I feel that this was an event that brought out Old Town as a community enjoying our town together."
Ginny Barlow, owner of Encore, was pleased with the event, and said, "I cannot thank Fay or any of you enough for the fantastic job you all did in this promotion. I thought it was so wonderful and so well done for our very first Christmas in July. We played Christmas music and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and despite the wicked heat, I saw so many smiles and heard many giggles over the silliness of it.
"I am so thankful for the brilliant idea and with this economy the way that it is, we needed that little bit of spark to boost everyone's morale. Encore had a very good weekend and I hope we are able to continue doing special promotions in the future."
Hooray for Books! employee Patrick Hunter read Christmas books at the Firehook Bakery on Sunday, and gave his perspective on the weekend. "Though the weather was hot, hot, hot. children of all ages and families of all kinds let their thoughts turn to snowmen, Christmas bells and snowflakes — all cookies shapes being sold at the Firehook Bakery on Union Street in Alexandria for Christmas in July.
"In addition to Santa's favorite holiday delight, the crowd was treated to some favorite holiday stories courtesy of Hooray For Books! storytellers. Children were entranced by Bear fighting sleepy eyes and stifling yawns during the holidays in "Bear Stays Up for Christmas;" a duck who had been nice all year, until he eats all of irresistible cookies that he left out for Santa in "Have you been Naughty or Nice?;" a certain someone with a heart two sizes to small in the perennial favorite "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." With such good stories, good cheer and good cookies, the story time mood was anything but grinchy; resembling more the festive mood of the Whos as they awaken on Christmas Day.
"While the weather didn't call for any type of precipitation, the revelers were treated to something spectacular falling from the sky as they exited Firehook — bubbles. Next door to Firehook, Ben & Jerry's window bubble machine was in full operation helping to add a touch of magic to the air and the afternoon. And just in case you want to know, as of Sunday, July 18, there are only 159 days left until Christmas."
Participants will be meeting later to evaluate the event, but it appears as this point that Christmas in July is likely to become an annual event in Old Town, Alexandria.