Free Ride Service Operating

SoberRide will again offer a free ride home during the holiday season to anyone in the District or Washington suburbs who has been drinking and cannot safely or legally operate a car.

The ride service is available from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. through Jan. 2

The service is part of a national program paid for by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program and Anheuser-Busch, and it offers free cab rides home in about 150 communities throughout the nation.

Those who need a ride, for oneself or a friend, should call 703-222-TAXI.

Octagon Museum Challenge Grant

The Octagon Museum at 18th Street and New York Avenue NW, one of the city's best examples of a federal-style house, has received a $230,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The house was the executive mansion of James Madison and is now in the midst of renovation.

The award is one of 35 given nationally out of 184 applicants. It will be used to turn the servants' hall in the lower part of the house into an interpretive center for museum visitors.

Blood Donations Welcome

The Charles Drew Blood Center of the American Red Cross, at 2025 E St. NW, will be open for blood donations from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, Christmas Eve, to help meet the annual surge in the need for blood during the holiday season.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.

The need is particularly urgent for those with blood Types O and B.

Any healthy person at least age 17 and weighing more than 110 pounds may donate blood.

For information, call 728-6550.

White House Candlelight Tours

Candlelight tours of the White House are available starting the day after Christmas and continuing through Friday, Dec. 28.

Free tours of the rooms, offered against a backdrop of music by military bands, are from 6 to 8 p.m. and include a view of the president's 18 1/2-foot Fraser fir tree from North Carolina in the Blue Room, decorated with 5,000 miniature lights and about 600 ornaments.

The tour line will start at the east gate in East Executive Park NW. Tickets are not required and cameras are not permitted.

The White House will remain decorated until Dec. 29 and will be open for daytime tours from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Saturday.

For information, call 472-3669.

African-American Celebrations

African fashions, Kwanzaa workshops, story-telling and food are all part of the annual African-American Holiday Expo that continues through Sunday at various sites in the city.

The festivities include a workshop series through today on ways to have a healthier and value-centered holiday.

The workshop is from 6 to 10 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia's Carnegie Library, at Eighth Street and Mount Vernon Place NW.

Tomorrow night, the Serenity Players will perform an original Kwanzaa play called "The Spirit of Principles."

The curtain goes up at 6 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church, 2812 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

A festival from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at UDC's Carnegie Library will feature dancers, skits, children's crafts and a 100-vendor African marketplace.

For information, call 310-1430.