Between the towering Christmas tree, horse-drawn carriage rides and juggling elves in green smocks, a person could be forgiven for mistaking this corner of Loudoun County for a bustling North Pole.
It’s actually the Village at Leesburg, whose Christmas festivities kicked off Nov. 23 with the lighting of a 30-foot-tall tree covered in 40,000 LED bulbs.
Barbara Combs, who helped coordinate the holiday celebrations at the Village with JP Events & Consulting, thought the season began with fitting good cheer.
“The tree-lighting was great,” said Combs. “There were about 1,000 people here for that. With Gus the elf and all the excitement, it felt like real Christmas village. People were so into the spirit of the holiday they didn’t even mind waiting for carriage rides. Then Santa pulled up in a sleigh and the kids loved that.”
Christmas-themed events will continue each Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 22, with different events scheduled each weekend. The unveiling on Dec. 1 of a 3D painting by renowned artist Kurt Wenner was one such event and proved a big hit with families.
“We heard that Kurt was one of the top 3D artists in the world,” said Randa McMann, an official affiliated with JP Events. “We saw some of his artwork published in National Geographic and knew he was the best match for our vision.”
Mike and Michelle Adkis said the painting, which features a 3D depiction of Santa’s sleigh, was well received by their 4-year- and 8-month-old children.
“It was something local and something to do with Christmas,” Michelle Adkis said. “We heard about it on the radio and figured we’d come out. The kids love being able to sit in Santa’s sleigh and get their picture taken. And the pictures look so real.”
Another big lure was Breakfast with Santa, which drew more than 200 people to Travinia Italian Kitchen for great food and a photo with Saint Nick. Adults, meanwhile, enjoyed the carolers decked out in 19th century clothing.
“I love the carolers,” said Evan Macbath, who brought his 2-½-year-old son Henry. “I grew up in New England and remember going caroling. Having them here, in the costumes, adds a lot to the season and the spirit. It definitely makes it easier to be out here in the cold.”
Henry was more enthused about the horse-drawn carriage.
“He doesn’t totally get it, the whole Christmas thing, yet,” said Macbath. “But we were here for Halloween and he remembers the hayride. He had such a blast. Now he keeps asking, ‘Where are the horses?’”
Several of the Village businesses got in on the holiday sentiment as well, with Salon Montage offering free cookies and hot apple cider to fortify families against the chilly weather.
“It’s really about the holiday spirit and just wanting to share something,” said owner Seema Deubey. “And people like it. We’ve gone through four boxes of cookies and a good three gallons of cider just today. I guess with the cold it’s not that surprising. It’s just fun. It’s a nice thing for us to do.”
Salon Montage was also offering free hand and scalp massages.
Christmas activities at the Village will continue throughout the month. Future events include Saturday morning breakfasts with Santa, a screening of the movie “Polar Express” and a drawing for a $250 gift card to any Village store. More information can be found at the Village at Leesburg Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/villageatleesburg
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