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Del Ray Honors Nancy Dunning with Annual Tree Lighting and Luminarias

Del Ray Business Association hosts annual holiday kickoff.

Del Ray Tree Lighting, Dec. 7, 2013 (Credit: Drew Hansen)
Del Ray Tree Lighting, Dec. 7, 2013 (Credit: Drew Hansen)

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.

Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant donated the tree, which was raised and decorated on Wednesday morning.

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.

Cathylovesliving Living December 08, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I was raised in Delray. And i miss my home very much. !!!!
Scooby's Doo December 08, 2013 at 08:55 PM
"The luminarias were originally Dunning’s idea, as she wanted to light Del Ray’s main stretch to celebrate Christmas." I'm not sure about that. No disrespect to Ms. Dunning, but Warwick Village has been doing luminarias for 20 years at least. I do not recall the luminarias extending beyond Warwick Village until after her death, when they extended from Warwick Village to the house on Mt. Ida Ave. I believe the custom started extending down Mt. Vernon and throughout Del Ray some years later.
Gayle R. December 09, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Scooby Doo, you are absolutely correct. Warwick Village had been doing luminaries long before we started doing them on Mt Vernon Avenue. But it was Nancy who was organizing them to be added on Mt Vernon Avenue our very first year when she was murdered just days before they were to be set out. That year, we delayed it a week & then expanded them for only that year to go to her house on Mt. Ida. Since that year, we have continued them on Mt. Vernon Avenue in her memory.

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