Hundreds of Prince George’s County residents celebrated the holidays early by gobbling down a variety of dishes and desserts while wearing dashing attire and a few ugly sweaters.
They enjoyed free cuisine with two county council members who hosted the festive atmospheres during annual holiday parties.
Councilwoman Karen Toles (D-District 7) of Suitland spoke to about 200 people from her district highlighting projects taken place such as the $30 million renovation of The Shops at Iverson and a $360 million mixed-used development called the Town Square at Suitland Federal Center.
“It’s just a way to talk about the highlights of the year,” said Toles, who hosted her fifth annual holiday event at Hillcrest Heights Community Center in Temple Hills on Monday, Dec. 19. “We want to hold a holiday celebration to come together as a community and the district.”
Besides dining on roast beef sandwiches, spicy sweet chicken and vegetables and crab dip, residents also got the opportunity to speak with officials from county agencies such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity informed residents about its annual Youth Leadership Development Institute starting next month at the SKC Early Education Center in District Heights. The fraternity’s Pi Upsilon Lambda Charitable Foundation (www.apapulcf.org) manages the program to work with boys in grades 6-8 on proper attire and etiquette and offer field trips.
“This seems really interesting,” Charlotte Jefferson said to Alex Bailey, who runs the youth institute.
Jefferson, a member of the Suitland Civic Association, said it’s her third year attending Toles’ function at the community center.
“I always enjoy coming out,” she said. “It’s good to spend time with friends and learn about what’s been going on in the district.”
At a similar soiree on Dec. 14, Councilwoman Andrea Harrison (D-District 5) of Springdale hosted about 300 people from her district at her annual celebration at the VFW Post 8950 in Lanham in the county’s District 3 area.
Harrison said the get-together has taken place in Lanham for the past two years because the VFW can accommodate more people for the increasingly popular event than available locations in her district.
“Holidays are really for families and those who are like family,” she said. “When family gets together and has a good time, that’s what the holidays are all about.”
Twenty-two high school students, mostly from Bladensburg High School, helped serve senior citizens as part of a youth program housed in Harrison’s district. The menu included fried and baked chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, string beans, salad and chocolate cake.
Besides the cheerful students, music and food, Marilyn Davis of Landover said Harrison’s the main reason she attended the holiday event for the past five years.
“She is such a charming person,” Davis said. “She’s very personable and nice to everyone she comes around. She just makes you feel at home and that’s why I come.”
Prince George’s Sheriff Melvin C. High, who attended both events, had a simple message for everyone in the county: “It’s important that we be safe as we go through the holidays … and look forward into the next year.”