Twas the month before Christmas and the town gathered near
Because in Shirlington Village: Santa was here.
There were families with children and those with sweethearts
All waiting in line for the horse-drawn carts
The crowd was gathered that beautiful night
To see the Shirlington Christmas tree light
All of Campbell Avenue not cleared for the horse carts was packed with eager faces, young and old, watching the stage closely for any sign of the man in red. The tree was a dark silhouette against the bright Signature Theater. After a series of Christmas songs performed by the cast of The Holiday Follies, Santa made his appearance to a roar of applause.
The Shirlington Christmas Tree lighting, held on Nov. 30, is an annual tradition in the small Arlington community that draws residents from the area and visitors from across the region. This year, the tree lighting was accompanied by activities up and down Campbell Avenue in local businesses and a carriage ride.
“It feels so great,” said Andrea Strange. “This is a small community but there’s a lot to offer. I love to bring my dog down or hang out with friends.”
Strange, a Fairlington resident, said she’s been to the Shirlington tree lighting for the last five years in a row.
“We really embrace [the holidays] here,” said Strange. “There’s so many festivities. There’s something new every day.”
Sitting next to her, Emily Haimowitz was attending the tree lighting for her first time, but said she was loving it and would be back.
Patrick Mooney always drives by Shirlington with his family and sees the tree, so when they found out there was going to be a tree lighting ceremony, this year the Mooneys decided to get out of the car and explore.
“We’re having a great time,” said Mooney. “It’s much more organized than I thought. They really went all out this year. We didn’t even know about the sleigh rides.”
Natalie Mooney noted that the weather was perfect for the evening, which long-time Shirlington Tree-Lighting attendees say is a refreshing change of pace.
“Last year it rained and they had to cancel,” said Ruby Miller, a local resident. “But this year, I love it. It’s so much fun. I moved appointments, changed the work schedule, got out early just to be here.”
Miller saw the lighting with her friend, Betty Squatrito-Martin.
“It’s very family friendly here,” said Squatrito-Martin. “I think it’s great. I didn’t even know all these kids were out here, and I’m old so I think that’s great.”
At the lighting, Miller and Squatrito-Martin reflected on their holiday traditions. For Miller, one of her favorites has always been going Christmas tree shopping with her son. Every year, they pick out two, one for her home and one for his. Now that he’s married, Miller said he’s continuing the tradition with his wife. Squatrito-Martin said some of her favorite traditions were making cookies and going to see Scrooge at the Forest Theater, which she does every year.