Minutes after the City College Choir belted out "We Need a Little Christmas," strands of energy-efficient silvery lights blinked on at Mount Vernon's Washington Monument as seven minutes' worth of fireworks and laser beams filled the pleasantly cool December skies.

Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis joined Mayor Sheila Dixon and other officials in the west square of Mount Vernon Place for the 38th annual lighting of the monument. A near-capacity crowd gathered in the parks and sidewalks around the Washington Monument, while others watched from the apartment buildings and clubs facing the monument.

"Make sure you are thankful to your family and friends," Dixon said. "Remember our children, who are the next generation to come."

Dixon acknowledged a BGE gift of low-wattage, energy-efficient LED lights that were suspended from the top of the monument. The new lights cast a silvery-white glow on the monument that was less intense than in years past.

Also on the program were the Handel Choir, singers from the Institute of Notre Dame, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Spectacular Dancing Santas that featured performers from the Baltimore School for the Arts Dancers.

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