Let There Be Light in Del Ray

Del Ray tree lighting kicks off holiday season.

Hundreds gathered in the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square at Mount Vernon and

East Oxford avenues as Alexandria’s Del Ray community kicked off its holiday season Dec. 2 with the annual tree lighting ceremony and visit from Santa.

“We are extremely grateful again this year to Bill Blackburn and Mike Anderson for donating a close to 30-foot tree,” said Gayle Reuter, a board member of the Del Ray Business Association, which sponsors the tree lighting event. “And Wind Mill Hill Designs arranged for their amazing crews to put it up.”

Continuing a tradition that began in 2003, more than 2,000 luminaries lined Mount Vernon Ave. in memory of Nancy Dunning, who was active in the Del Ray community and known as “the Queen of Del Ray.” Dunning, wife of then-sheriff Jim Dunning, was found murdered in her home on Dec. 5, 2003. Her murder remained unsolved until 2015, when Charles Severance was convicted of the killing. Items were collected for Carpenter’s Shelter in Dunning’s memory.

Also lining Mount Vernon Avenue were 12 holiday trees decorated by local nonprofits.

“Nonprofits have decorated trees and are competing for cash prizes,” Reuter said. “We hope everyone has a chance to stroll the Avenue, check out all the decorated trees and cast their vote for Best Decorated Tree.”

Voting will be open until 5 p.m. Christmas Day and the winning nonprofit will receive $500 from the Del Ray Business Association. For more information or to vote, visit www.visitdelray.com/holiday-tree.