Christmas tree on mall to get new decorations

Posted: November 9, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A downtown clothier has taken a step to help “dress” the city’s Christmas tree this year.

Old Town Development Board members voted 6-0 at their meeting on Thursday to spend $600 on tree decorations to match the $600 offer by Bell’s Fine Clothing.

The decorations are needed because a live tree about 30 feet tall will be used this year on the Loudoun Street Mall instead of the 14-foot artificial tree of previous years, Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell told the board.

Also, she said, many of the ornaments formerly used on the tree are in poor shape and should be replaced.

The money was offered by Irvin Shendow, whose family has owned and operated Bell’s downtown since 1931.

“I heard that their budget was somewhat limited,” Shendow said on Friday, “and I was very much interested in having a good first appearance for downtown.

“We’ve got a new [pedestrian] mall, and I just wanted the decorations to be complete because first impression means everything.”

The board also voted to continue its “Parking Elf” program this year.

“Elves” linked to the board walk along downtown streets at various times during the holiday shopping season and add time to expired meters to prevent drivers from receiving tickets.

A card is left under the windshield wiper blade, explaining that the elf paid to add time to the meter. It also suggests that the driver consider parking in one of the city’s garages to avoid the possibility of being cited for a meter violation.

Money for the program is provided by the OTDB.

“It’s a way to make someone feel good,” said board member Mark Lore, who has served as an elf in past years.

Board Chairman Lauri Bridgeforth called the program “a huge generator of goodwill.”

The board members also:

Voted 6-0 to approve a stage-use policy that includes a $300 fee to cover the cost of setting up and removing the stage.

Set Feb. 6 as the date for a board retreat. The time and location are to be determined.

Were told by Councilor Ben Weber that the City Council is set to review the noise ordinance and its enforcement in the wake of residents’ complaints about loud music from downtown nightspots.

Were told by Bridgeforth that a firm should be hired soon to complete the Old Town Winchester branding project, including creating a logo and tag line.

Agreed by consensus that 10,000 more Old Town brochures could be ordered at a cost of $2,700. Almost all of the first batch of 10,000 were distributed within two months. That quantity was expected to last six months.

Attending the meeting in Rouss City Hall were Chairman Lauri Bridgeforth and board members Scott Dawson, Corey Garman, Marilyn Finnemore, Mark Lore and Andrea Smith. Board members Melinda Kramer and Rick McClendon were absent.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at