During the past eight years, a quiet local holiday tradition has been building, and this writer’s not talking about the phenomenon that is the annual Jingle Jam concert. No, this pilgrimage begins weeks earlier under the cover of darkness.
Bleary-eyed and often shivering from the cold, dozens of people begin queueing up at Ida Lee Recreation Center—some, like Joy Griffith, her niece Lucy Campbell, and Campbell’s husband Ryan, hours before dawn breaks. Griffith is one of the first in line every year. She brings a lawn chair, a book, hand warmers and coffee, and this year she plans to stake her spot in line by midnight. “And I guarantee you, I won’t be the first one,” she said.
Griffith and other veterans of this exercise, themselves clutching doughnuts or tiny, steaming breakfast burritos from Anita’s, are all waiting for the magic hour—5 a.m., when Jingle Jam ticket sales open—and their eager planning is never for naught.
“This is our ninth year and, so far, every show has been a sell-out,” Jingle Jam founder and organizer Stilson Greene said. “[Tickets for] the evening show go first, usually in 30 minutes.” And that’s what all those eager folks, faithfully sitting in line for hours, are waiting for: evening show tickets.
Most everyone who has had the pleasure of holidaying here in Loudoun knows about the popularity of Jingle Jam, and that interest in the raucous show only seems to grow exponentially, year over year. Greene and his compatriots have done their best to accommodate all that verve, expanding to three shows on performance day: one earlier in the day for kids (the adorable Junior Jam), a merry matinee, and the magnetic and revered evening show. And although people have proven more than willing to drag themselves from warm and cozy beds to cop a seat at that most coveted of concerts, Greene issues a helpful reminder: “The afternoon show is the same show as the evening show, just earlier.”
Indeed, as this writer can attest, during last year’s evening Jingle Jam performance, charismatic front man Todd Wright gleefully taunted the audience about the jokes and camaraderie that took place during the earlier, afternoon show, which all of us evening-goers had missed. These many months later it’s impossible to recall the exact razzing, but the message resonates even today: really cool stuff happens at all Jingle Jam shows, and particularly at both adult-friendly sets, no matter the show time.
“To me, it’s really special because [the afternoon show is] the first time we do the whole show with full sound and lights,” Greene said. “The band is on 11 and full of energy. The idea that the matinee is different than the evening show is not true. I would ask anyone who has been to it for their opinion.”
Another important aspect is that 100 percent of generated proceeds—including ticket sales to any performance and concessions sales—benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “Last year we raised over $16,400, our biggest total ever,” Greene said, adding that he hopes to match or surpass that total in 2017.
So, no matter when you Jam, there you’ll be, enjoying the excellent musicianship of the Jingle Jam Band, which is delivered with equal passion, hilarity and love, regardless of where the hands on the clock may land.
Following are some notables to keep in mind as you plan your ideal Jingle Jam experience:
- Regarding the Junior Jam, set for 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, says Greene: “Junior Jam will have a full-band show this year—we will still be gentler and will play all the Christmas kids’ classics and the Jingle Jam Santa, complete with his pink Hello Kitty guitar, will make his annual appearance. We thought we’d give the kids a taste of a rock band—for some, it may be their first! Again, still soft, but kids love a drummer.”
- Wright, ever the overachiever, has reportedly designed a new stage set. Per Greene, “it is a beautiful new look that will enhance the total Jingle Jam experience.”
- The band will play some new tunes, but will faithfully represent all the fan favorites on each performance set list. Greene says, because Wright’s new stage set is so darn impressive, “with the new look, we have to add some new songs.”
- A friendly reminder, Jingle Jam observes a strict no-alcohol policy along with no outside food, drinks, cups or containers. Yes, this is to boost concessions sales, because all sales benefit JDRF.
For information about opening ticket sales, contact Ida Lee at 703-777-1368. To learn more about the work of JDRF, go to jdrf.org.
Keep your eyes on loudounnow.com and getoutloudoun.com for the latest updates and information as we approach the 2017 Jingle Jam.
2018 Jingle Jam Holiday Concert
Saturday, Dec. 9
11:30 a.m.: Junior Jam, a special 30-minute performance just for kids, featuring a full band and a rockin’ appearance from Santa Claus
Noon-1 p.m.: Pictures with rock ‘n’ roll Santa on the Town Green (open to all; donations requested)
2:30 p.m.: Matinee show
8:30 p.m.: Evening show
All performances take place at the Tally Ho Theater, 19 W. Market St. in Leesburg
Junior Jam: $5
Matinee and evening shows: $25
Proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Ticket sales open at 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at Ida Lee Recreation Center in Leesburg. There is a five-ticket-per-person maximum.