Holly Jolly Old Town Celebration
Winchester — The downtown area will be filled with Christmas activities Saturday for the Holly Jolly Old Town Celebration.
With a variety of events planned between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on or near the Loudoun Street Mall, visitors will have plenty of options to help build their holiday spirit, said Dario Savarese, special events promoter for Old Town Winchester.
The day will include caroling, horse- drawn carriage rides, a Christmas dance, a walking tour and a fundraiser for the local Henry and William Evans Home for Children. All events except for the walking tour are free.
Most are existing events, but they have been bundled together into one larger event to enhance them and bring more attention to each one, he said.
“What I hope is that we can let everybody know throughout the area is that there are a lot of activities going on in downtown, that it is a fun place to be, and that there are a lot of unique shops available for consumers,” said Savarese, president of Full Circle Marketing. “Basically, that Old Town Winchester is alive.”
One of the biggest events of the day will be the Victorian Candlelight Ball in First Presbyterian Church at 116 S. Loudoun St. Although the ball is officially scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m., members of the Victorian Dance Ensemble will provide dance lessons starting at 6 p.m., said Leslie Bowery, special events coordinator for the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department, which organizes the ball.
“You don’t have to know the dances in advance,” she said. “To me it would be very intimidating to know you are going to a particular dance and not know the steps. This is one where you have a caller who will actually go through the dances with you.”
Ensemble members will introduce guests to the grace and beauty of mid-19th century dancing set to live music provided by Susquehanna Travelers, she said. The group is dedicated to promoting and advancing educational, cultural, preservation, commemoration and performing arts programs related to the Civil War and Victorian eras.
The dance participants’ clothing style is not important — period attire or formal or casual wear are acceptable — or if they have a partner. They can be paired up at the event, Bowery said, adding that the main requirement is that everyone comes prepared to dance.
“The music is fun, and it is just a really great atmosphere. If you mess up, everybody just goes on,” she said.
Before the dance begins, the members of the ensemble will spend an hour from 5 to 6 p.m. on the Loudoun Street Mall caroling, Bowery said. They will be one of many groups caroling between noon and 7 p.m.
Also singing will be students from Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock and Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Savarese said. “The carolers will walk up and down the mall setting a great mood for the day.”
“As everybody is doing a little shopping they can enjoy the music and get into the holiday spirit,” he said. “It just creates more activity for downtown.”
Several of the events are designed to explore the mall in a different way, he said.
People can join in on the Holly Jolly Santa Stomp to help raise money for the Evans Home.
Participants will meet at 5 p.m. at Sweet Caroline’s at 29 W. Cork St., dressed in Santa or elf costumes or other Christmas attire. As a group, they will leave at 6 p.m. to visit area restaurants, asking patrons to support the cause and even stopping for some drinks along the way.
The Old Town Winchester Business Association is sponsoring free carriage rides along the mall, giving people a different vantage point to the downtown stores and offerings. The Shenandoah Carriage Co. is supplying two carriages for the event, up from one last year.
“So often you are walking down the mall with your head down and looking where you are walking,” Savarese said. “Sitting in a carriage, you will actually be able to appreciate the architectural beauty.”
The only special event with a cost, the Old Town Civil War Walking Tour, will begin at 11 a.m. at the Kurtz Building at 2 N. Cameron St., and will be led by Sandy Jones. The cost is $5 per person, payable to the guide.
Winchester’s history is so rich, especially surrounding the Revolutionary War and the Civil War periods, Savarese said. The walk will give people a chance to hear some of that history as they visit the locations in the stories.
Although it is not technically hosting an event, the Old Court House Civil War Museum is being wrapped into the overall Holly Jolly event, he said. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 5 to 17, and free for ages 4 and under.
Several restaurants and businesses also will offer specials to correspond with the event.
The Winchester Model Railroad Club at 430 N. Cameron St. also has agreed to open its doors to the public as part of the event, Savarese said.
The club has more than 18 scale miles of track and nearly 100 switches, all supported by thousands of feet of wiring under the rail complex.
For more details about the Holly Jolly Old Town Celebration, call Dario Savarese at 540-722-8700. For more about the Victorian Candlelight Ball, call Leslie Bowery at 540-662-4946.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org