The Hill Holiday Tree Lights Up the Season

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The Didden family in front of "Sonny," the Hill Holiday tree named in honor of George Didden III.

It is one of the small-town traditions that make the Hill great. On Saturday, Nov. 26, hundreds of Hill neighbors came together on Eastern Market Metro Plaza (EMMP) park near the Southeast Library to light the Hill Holiday tree, kicking off the season.

Neighbors shared a warm cup of cheer. Hot chocolate, donuts and candy canes were served up by the Men in Blue as Joyous Voices began the evening with carols, followed by a performance by the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) Suzuki Strings.  Vocalist Adalia Jimenez performed at the tree lighting, including a rendition of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny”.

As is tradition, Kathy Didden led the countdown to illuminate the 40-foot Cedrus Deodara. Capitol Hill BID President Patti Brosmer told the crowd how it was originally planted in spring of 2007 to honor the late George Didden III for his many contributions to Capitol Hill, it was named “Sonny” in his honor, the name by which he was known to family and friends.

The tree is itself a performance this year. In a partnership between the BID and Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS), this year the Capitol Hill Community Tree will play a musical light show on the hour and half hour every day between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Members of the Washington Youth Chorus perform.
A moment of joy and affection in the crowd.
Kathy Didden illuminated the tree with the assistance of two of her grandchildren.
Kojo Nnamdi, Capitol Hill BID President Patti Brosmer and Tom Sherwood.
The BID Men in Blue handed out hot chocolate and donuts.
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Suzuki Strings perform at the 16th Annual Hill Holiday Tree lighting.
Hundreds of people attended the event, which the BID says it works to make bigger and better every year.
The crowd listens to speakers at the tree lighting event.
Joyous Voices perform carols to kick off the proceedings.

This year featured Master of Ceremonies Kojo Nnamdi, host of The Politics Hour on WAMU and former host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and Tom Sherwood, resident Political Analyst at WAMU 88.5 FM Politics Hour who carried a small co-host, the Grinch, in his pocket. The two poked fun at one another throughout the event, Sherwood teasing Nnamdi for re-living his high school choir days by singing backstage. Nnamdi in turn teasing his colleague, telling the crowd Sherwood missed out on choir due to a “mis-spent youth.”

As the night wore down, families snapped photos and children danced underneath the tree, sheltered under the limbs of the neighborhood symbol of holiday joy as the lights around them also danced and sang.

Join the Capitol Hill BID and Hill Havurah for the 9th Annual Menorah Lighting, which will take place on Monday, Dec. 19 on the steps of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation (212 East Capitol St. NE)

A family gets close to the light show.
Children look out from under the Hill Holiday tree after the ceremony.
The Hill is Home’s María Helena Carey in front of the tree.