Del Ray kicked off the holiday season Saturday night with its annual tree lighting and luminarias along Mount Vernon Avenue.
The luminarias lining the sidewalks are put together to honor Nancy Dunning, a local realtor who was murdered in her home 10 years ago this week. The case remains unsolved and Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook affirmed Wednesday that the investigation remains active.
“We made a promise to the Dunning family we would never put this case on the shelf,” Cook said. “The viability here is still existing for us. We continue to try and investigate and ferret out leads where we get them.”
The luminarias were originally Dunning’s idea, as she wanted to light Del Ray’s main stretch to celebrate Christmas.
“It was really important for her to light these bags,” said Dunning’s niece, Kate Moran, who led the singing of holiday carols at Saturday’s event. “She didn’t get to do that but we lit them for her.”
The Del Ray Business Association has made sure those lanterns are lit every year.
Attendees at Saturday’s event were asked to bring donations to Carpenter’s Shelter, a homeless shelter in Alexandria that serves more than 1,000 children and adults each year.
Saturday’s event was initially scheduled for Friday evening but was postponed because of weather concerns.
Local attorney Cathy Puskar helped line up equipment and labor from J.E. Richards Electric, A&A Transfer and Whiting Turner Contractors to help transport, erect and decorate the arbor.