Come Friday evening down around the Mall, don't be surprised to hear the music of Christmas while you feel the humidity. The U.S. Air Force Band's jazz ensemble, the Airmen of Note, will present its annual "Christmas in August" concert at 8 p.m.
The concert, which is preceded by gatherings and family picnics on the Mall, has grown in popularity over its 13-year history. Almost 10,000 people made last year's concert at the Jefferson Memorial, and the location has been changed this year to the Sylvan Theater at the base of the Washington Monument to accommodate an even larger crowd.
The man who founded the concert, WETA-FM announcer Bill Cerri, says it attracts people from all over the country. "I got a call from a family on the West Coast the other day. They're planning their vacation to coincide with 'Christmas in Washington.' "
Cerri says Washington's typical summer weather helped trigger the idea. "It was a hot summer day and I threw on a Christmas tune at the radio station to break the monotony of the day. It got a great public response."
Cerri approached the director of the Air Force Band with his idea, and the event was launched. "The whole thought behind it is that right after Thanksgiving, we're inundated with Christmas, almost to the point of it being obnoxious. But to take a single day in the summer for Christmas, you experience the plain beauty of the music -- without the commercialization and Santa Claus."