(City of Arlington) For many Arlington families, the holiday season wasn't complete without a trip to West Park Row Drive. Because in a city that goes all out for Christmas, one family managed to top them all.
Former Mayor Tom Vandergriff and his wife Anna Waynette moved into their dream home in 1968. The family had a long history of elaborate Christmas displays and now had a new canvas to share the holiday spirit.
Mrs. Vandergriff began decorating the home with garlands, lights and wreaths. By the late 1970s, the decorations grew to include a large Christmas tree in the middle of the front lawn. During the 1980s, the house was covered in large, one-of-a-kind snowflakes.
"They just loved doing it. My whole family's life, their lives particularly, was based on public service for Arlington," said Victor Vandergriff, Tom and Anna Waynette's son.
The house had been drawing a crowd for years, but the display hit a new high in 1986. The Vandergriffs traveled to New York in late 1985 where Mrs. Vandergriff saw an oversized Christmas tree made of poinsettias. She wanted to share the beauty with Arlington residents and recruited the team at Lige Green Florist to bring the vision to life.
The next year, the poinsettia tree was installed outside the family home, where it became an Arlington tradition until 2015.
"It was always exciting when we would initially get the frame and take it out in the yard, because cars would stop," said Viveca Vandergriff, Tom and Anna Waynette's daughter. "It was just a labor of love, a gift to the city and the community, it was really fun."
The family parted with the home on West Park Row Drive in 2016. While many of the elaborate displays now live on only in memories, the family was sure to preserve the poinsettia tree.
"This was the one piece we wanted to keep," said Parker Vandergriff, Tom and Anna Waynette's grandson.
This year, the family donated the tree to the City of Arlington. It was installed at the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library last week. Members of the Vandergriff family were on hand to help decorate the tree once again. They were joined by City of Arlington staff and volunteers from the Arlington Historical Society.
Story originally produced and published by the Office of Communication, City of Arlington, December 3, 2019.