Lexington’s annual Christmas festivities return

Lexington residents kicked off the holiday season with a Christmas parade and a holiday-themed race.


A float with Santa and Mrs. Claus proceeded down Main Street as part of Lexington’s Christmas parade. The annual event was downsized last year due to COVID-19. Photo by Shauna Muckle, ’24.

Luke Fountain

Christmas festivities are back in full swing in Lexington after a year without. Main Street closed down for Lexington’s annual Christmas parade Dec. 3.

Attendees were smiling and bundled up as they waved and drank free hot chocolate handed out at the event. A float with Santa leads the procession to ring in the Christmas season.

Hundreds of local residents attended the parade alongside Washington and Lee students, many of whom said they were excited to take part in the Christmas festivities for the first time. 

Floats were adorned with lights and tinsel and filled with members of the community. Others involved in the parade walked alongside the floats and handed candy to kids attending the parade.

Other highlights of the night included the VMI band, which played Christmas tunes like “First Noel” and marched in sync down Main Street alongside local middle and elementary school bands.

Event organizer Chandra Mofensen said that this year the parade included 14 local fire and rescue units, each with multiple trucks, as well as bands from VMI, Rockbridge County High School and Lylburn Downing Middle School. That was in addition to 41 floats, she said.

The highlight of the evening was surely the appearance of the Grinch, said Washington and Lee students who attended the parade. He stood on top of a dog-led sled while waving and dancing the whole route and engaging with members of the crowd. 

“I think the Grinch pop, lock and dropping it is one of the most iconic memories I’ll ever have of Christmas time in W&L,” Janae Darby, ’25, said.

Hannah Note, ’25, agreed with Darby’s sentiment.

“The Grinch float was one of the best parts of the parade,” Nolten said. “It was engaging and very funny since it was more than just a decorated trailer.”

To end the night, Santa himself once again appeared in the parade. He waved at kids and brought the jovial Christmas spirit to Lexington once again. 

“It was a really fun experience,” Hannah Burke, ’25, said. “All the people dressed up for Christmas and handing out candy made me really excited for the holidays.”

Other festivities in Lexington also marked the start of the Christmas season, including the 8th Annual Downtown Lexington Jingle Bell Run on Dec. 6.

The race, hosted by Lexington Running Shop, is known for its participants wearing jingle bells when running.

“You bring the feet, we bring the bells,” Lexington Running Shop owner Jess Reid said.

Prizes were awarded for the top two male and female runners in the race overall and the top two winners in each age-group. The best human and pet costumes also got recognition 

Other upcoming festive events include: 

  • Lexington:
    • Lee House Holiday Open House at Lee House, Monday, Dec. 13 from 3:30 p.m.  – 5  p.m. is open to Washington and Lee faculty and staff for socializing and treats. Attendees can chat with colleagues and view holiday decorations.
    • University Brunch at Evans Hall on Friday, Dec. 17 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. is open to faculty and staff for a big year end brunch. 
    • VMI’s Carols in the Courtyard in the courtyard of the old barracks on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Attendees can hear carols performed by VMI musicians. Immediately after the hymns, attendees can join the VMI Chaplain’s Office for a candlelight service in Memorial Hall at 8 p.m.
  • Roanoke:
    • The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas in Downtown Roanoke on Dec. 17. Vendors, good food and holiday cheer help Roanoke celebrate the 39th annual Dickens Christmas in downtown. Events on a parade downtown, a beloved pet costume contest, and tree lightings. 
    • Explore Park’s Winter Walk of Light in Explore Park until Dec. 30. Attendees can experience a spectacular world of over 600,000 lights at Illuminights Winter Walk of Lights with trails, activities, and experiences. 
  • Staunton:
    • In Downtown Staunton, on Dec. 18, visitors can enjoy a festive christmas market along with experiences including sleigh rides and a gingerbread village.