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Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
Sterling Blog: You light up my life

Oddly, at the end of a long day, I’m often tired, burnt out and just plain weary. I have no holiday spirit and I am the biggest scrooge to be found south of the North Pole.

Then I drive through our community.

Ever since I moved here more than 16 years ago, I knew one thing for certain: Sterling does not play when it comes to holiday lights. Drive down any street and you’ll see roofs sagging under the weight of plastic icicles, yards filled with inflatable reindeer and candles in every window. It honestly makes my heart grown two sizes with every corner I turn. It’s almost impossible to say “Bah, Humbug!” when you see the holiday spirit we show.

Well, to be fair, you show.

Because I haven’t put out a single light yet – but I’m on it. I did put a garland around my advent wreath, but then it caught on fire. True story.

Some people in Sterling want to make sure your efforts (obviously, not mine) are recognized. That’s why the Sterling Park Neighborhood Exchange, the best community group on Facebook, is holding its annual Holiday Decorating Contest. In a variety of categories, your decorating skill and electrical bill can win you prizes and the recognition of your neighbors.

It’s an easy process. Just decorate your house to the elevens (nines are for other neighborhoods, not ours), then nominate your house to be judged by the Sterling Park Neighborhood Exchange Committee. To nominate, go to the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/SPARKNE/ and if you’re not a member, join. The nomination thread is pinned to the top of the page and you can just type your address in as a comment. On Dec. 14, the committee will stealthily come by and look at all the nominees to see who rises above.

Afterward, the winners will be announced not only on the Facebook page, but also in this column. This will allow the rest of us to bask in your holiday spirit and celebrate your commitment to the season. So be prepared for a lot of cars slowly driving by your house.

Also this weekend is auditions for our treasured Sterling Playmakers’ production of “James and Giant Peach,” opening in March. This play, based on Roald Dahl’s classic book, tells the story of James – an orphan – and involves a giant peach. I don’t want to give the whole thing away. Parts are available for men, women and children ages 10 and up.

Auditions are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 9 and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Sterling Community Center, 120 Enterprise St. For more information about the play and auditions, visit http://www.sterlingplaymakers.com.
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Sterling Blog: Santa, steaks and peaches
If you still believe strongly in Santa, I’m going to need you to skip the next couple of paragraphs. Just scan down until I talk about Burton’s Grill and read from there. And no peeking.

Okay, now that we’re alone. Writing a letter to Santa was a huge thing for me as a kid. My mom stopped taking me to see a live Santa when the Thalhimer’s department store downtown closed. This left me with the belief that the real Santa only went there, and every other Santa was fake. However, the letters? Those definitely got to him. Even with some notable omissions (still waiting on a pony), Santa stuck to my list like it was a wedding gift registry—but never wrote me back.

If you would like your child to not only send a letter to Santa, but also get one back (along with a recipe from Mrs. Claus), the Sterling Community Center is here to help. For $4 per letter, your child will send Santa a letter and get to know the jolly old elf is checking his list twice. But you only have until  Dec. 14  to get your forms in, so getting your kid thinking about what he wants. You can get the registration form by calling the center at  703-420-9480  or dropping by 120 Enterprise St. Be sure to take a look at the list before sending it in. 

OK, Santa-believers, you can come back now. I promise we were just talking about cookie recipes and reindeer snacks.

On  Dec. 5, Burton’s Grill at 21434 Epicerie Plaza in Cascades Overlook will be hosting an Odyssey of the Mind night for our teams at Sterling Middle School. Just come out for dinner between  6 and 9 p.m., enjoy a nice meal, and then go home full of the knowledge that you helped our teams get all the funding they need! It’s that easy to support our kids while doing what we all like to do—eat good food. 

The following weekend, it’s time to audition for the Sterling Playmakers’ production of James and the Giant Peach! Stop by the Sterling Community Center  Dec. 8  (6:30-8:30 p.m.), 9 (6:30-8:30 p.m.), or 10 (12:30-4 p.m.)  to try out for this fun show, which will hit the stage in early March 2017. Roles are available for ages 10 and up, but there are adult roles available as well if you’re looking for a unique family experience. To learn more about the show, including character descriptions and a rehearsal schedule, visit http://www.sterlingplaymakers.com.
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CountrySide and Cascades Blog: Laughing for a good cause
  When you’re a Girl Scout in the D.C. area, you quickly learn about the importance of sharing resources.

Every troop in the region supports the scouting organization’s SHARE program, which raises funds to make sure scouting is available to all by offering financial assistance when needed for membership and troop dues, supplies, camperships and program fees. The project also supports training programs for adult leaders and many other resources.

This week, Sterling-based Girl Scout Service Unit 70-18 is helping the SHARE project by hosting the area’s fifth annual SHARE-a-laugh fundraiser on Dec. 2 at Algonkian Elementary School.

The family-friendly evening features two Loudoun-based improvisational comedy troupes—The Last Ham Standing, which performs regularly at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, and the Potomac Falls High School SOFA (Silly Outrageous Funny Actors) troupe. The emcees of the event include members of CountrySide-based Girl Scout Troop 952.

Donations to SHARE will be accepted at the door. In addition, the proceeds from the food and refreshments sales will benefit the SHARE project. Cash is the only form of payment accepted for refreshment  sales.

The doors open at  6:30 p.m.  All seating is general admission. For information, call  202-258-3706.

Shop local

Award-winning CountrySide-based photographers Dora Ramirez and Gerry D’Onofrio recently released a limited edition 2017 “Beyond DC: Beautiful Northern Virginia” calendar. A preview of the calendar by the fine art photographers is available online at  gerdora.com.

‘Naughty or Nice’

Eastern Loudoun’s Stagecoach Theatre Company debuts its second annual Naughty or Nice Christmas Cabaret with a dinner theater performance  Dec. 3  at Savoir Fair in Round Hill. The show includes classic carols and contemporary holiday tunes. The production comes to the Cascades Senior Center on  Dec. 17. The doors open at  6:30 p.m.; the show begins at  7 p.m.  Beverages will be available for purchase. This performance does not include dinner.

Additional dinner theater performances are scheduled for  Dec. 11  at Leesburg Brewing Company and  Dec. 18  at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg. A  performance without dinner takes place  Dec. 9  at Lansdowne Woods. Information and reservations are available at http://www.stagecoachtc.com.

Tween foodies

The Loudoun County Library at Cascades presents Edible Gifts, a session for youngsters in grades 4 through 6, on  Dec. 5  from  5:30 to 6:30 p.m.  Participants will sample recipes and make gifts to take home. For information, call 703-444-3228.

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Sterling Blog: Off to college
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Cascades and CountrySide Blog: The most generous time of the year
Sterling Blog: Crafting for a cause
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