- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

Georgetown is lighting up this holiday season with special events including an official tree-lighting ceremony to attract shoppers and visitors.

It’s a coming out party for the community, which has endured more than two years of ripped-up roads, overturned sidewalks and parking problems.

“There is a sense that Georgetown is bouncing back,” said Ken Gray, executive director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District. “This is a way to show off and demonstrate as a community that we are a great place to be for the holidays.”

The festivities begin with Georgetown’s first official lighting of a 40-foot tree on Dec. 3 with D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

“It’s going to be our own Rockefeller Center,” Mr. Gray said.

Georgetown also is creating the “Festival of Trees,” which will showcase decorated trees at nearly 40 participating businesses in the community.

The Four Seasons Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue will have 15 company-sponsored trees — all with different themes — displayed in its lobby beginning next weekend. Salamander Farm in Middleburg, Va., paid $10,000 to sponsor the “centerpiece tree” in the middle of the lobby, while other companies have dished out $5,000 to sponsor the other 14 trees on display, said Tricia Messerschmitt, a Four Seasons spokeswoman.

Other Georgetown businesses, such as shoe store Sassanova, baby boutique Piccolo Piggies and restaurants J. Paul’s and Old Glory, are decorating their own trees to display at their locations. A silent auction will be held through Christmas for the items on or under those trees.

All proceeds from the “Festival of Trees” will go to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center.

Deer-nappers beware

Tysons Corner Center has made security a top priority this holiday season. The McLean mall is taking no chances of losing its holiday mascot again.

Ivy, the 12-foot-tall, 19-foot-wide, inflatable reindeer was stolen from her perch on top of the Tysons’ marquee on Route 7 last November. The $15,000 reindeer was returned within 48 hours, but the incident resulted in this year’s beefed-up security with the Reindeer Protection Squad.

The squad consists of more than 20 costumed characters who will guard the reindeer. Mall officials won’t release their identities until they go on duty each morning.

Made up of characters such as McGruff the Crime Dog, an English palace guard and a Keystone Cop, the squad will help guard Ivy and her equally large mate, Irving, who sits on top of the mall’s marquee on Route 123.

“This year we’re truly serious about securing Ivy and Irving, but we also hope to have a little tongue-in-cheek fun with the situation,” said Kathy Hannon, Tysons Corner’s general manager.

Retail Rummage

• Helzberg Diamonds opened its sixth store in the Washington area at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Helzberg, which averaged $1.9 million in sales per store in 2002, has locations in McLean, Fairfax, Bethesda, Columbia and Annapolis.

• Best Buy opened its 14th Maryland location in Waldorf on Friday. The 45,000-square-foot store has about 125 full- and part-time employees.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.


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