By Carla Branch
More than 2500 children watched as Santa arrived in an Alexandria fire engine at the Charles Houston Recreation Center last night to get the party started in the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Winter Wonderland.
Chaba Josa and his staff of construction and maintenance experts at ARHA conceived the idea of creating a witer wonderland four years ago and the project has grown through Josa’s creativity and with the support of many corporate sponsors. The first year, Josa and the arhA staff created a village of ARHA buildings that would be familiar to the children who live in public and subsidized housing in Alexandria. They decorated the structures for the holidays and invited the youngsters to wander through the village, visit with Santa, eat some tasty treats and get presents. The second year, Josa ad his staff added replicas of the George wAshington Memorial Masonic Temple. Last year, the Winter Wonderland included Christ Church and Alexandria’s Union Station. This year the Torpedo Factory came to life, transforming the gym at Charles Houston into a real Alexandria winter wonderland.
This year, Santa’s helpers included ARHA Board members, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, Miss Black Virginia 2013 Natasha Stovall and members of the Washington Capitals Red Rockers. The Dream Dog Foundation also provided support for the very successful event.