(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington County’s new special events policy, revised this summer to ensure bar crawl organizers pay for the support costs of their events, has raised eyebrows for appearing to require permits and cost reimbursements for vigils and protests.
The Special Events Policy, approved by the Arlington County Board on July 19, states “the county will charge special-event organizers for ‘personnel and services on a 100 percent cost-recovery basis unless prohibited by law.’ Permits must be obtained for ALL special events and demonstrations.”
The county defines demonstrations, for the purpose of the policy, as “any picketing, speech making, marching, holding vigils or religious services and other like forms of conduct, in Public Spaces, which involves the communication or expression of views or grievances, is engaged in by one or more persons, and has the effect, intent or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”
However, county spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the administrative regulation is still being written, and the county will not ask those holding “First Amendment” activities like protests, rallies or vigils to recoup the county for its costs.
“The Policy is designed to address the impacts caused when large crowds gather in public spaces for any purpose, including demonstrations and other expressive activities,” Curtius told ARLnow.com in an email. “The Policy does not prohibit such gatherings, and does not apply to every instance where citizens or groups gather to exercise rights protected by the First Amendment. It only applies when the crowd that gathers is large enough to interfere with the use of the public space by the rest of the public, and presents significant public safety risks and other costs that will otherwise have to be borne by the public.
“This has been a part of County policy for a number of years,” Curtius continued. “To date, based on the size of the groups involved, a permit has not been required for a demonstration or other similar activity.”
While not necessarily required, the county is expected to encourage organizer of so-called First Amendment activities to apply for permits so police and county staff can make appropriate preparations. County officials said that any ambiguity in the policy will be clarified through administrative regulations.
Hat tip to Suzanne Sundberg. File photo
The new regulations will include fees charged to the organizers to recoup the cost of extra police and community resources required to deal with the nearly 5,000 people estimated to attend some of the crawls. The crawls, which have previously been organized without much input from the county, will now need to be approved in advance.
The specifics of how much organizers will have to be and the criteria under which pub crawls will be approved or rejected have not yet been determined. County Manager Barbara Donnellan said she plans to return to the County Board with the full, implemented policy before Halloween, which is expected to be the date of the next major pub crawl.
“We have, I believe, the highest percentage of 25-34 year olds as a percentage of our population than any community in the United States, and we embrace that group,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said during the meeting. “We embrace their vitality and the energy they bring to our community as a creative class and workforce, and at the same time we request and require that they respect others.”
The approved regulation was seen as somewhat of a compromise between residents who want fewer and smaller crawls and the organizers who want to see the crawls continue on unabated. The Board first discussed amending its special events policy, last updated in 2012, in April during budget discussions. At the time, Donnellan requested $45,000 for police overtime specifically to manage the pub crawls. The Board directed Donnellan to return with an updated policy.
In the meantime, the crawls drew another round of controversy after an attendee in June allegedly stripped naked before leading police on a car chase that ended with a crash in Clarendon. That incident, paired with a women alleging stripping naked at the Arlington Magistrate’s Office during a March bar crawl, helped bring the issue to the Board’s attention.
“It’s two incidents out of thousands of people,” Project D.C. Events co-owner Alex Lopez told ARLnow.com earlier this month. Lopez pointed out that neither happened inside a bar. Project D.C. Events organized both the March and June pub crawls at which the incidents take place, as well as crawls in D.C. that have occurred without public incidents. “You don’t hear about bar crawls in D.C. because nothing happens at them. If you say, ‘oh everything was peaceful in the last bar crawl,’ well, no one is going to read that.”
According to a county press release, about 1,130 people responded to an online survey about how best to manage the pub crawls, but only one member of the public spoke during the comment period: frequent County Board critic Jim Hurysz.
The motion passed 5-0 and the Board generally lauded the police and staff for their work in bringing a “common sense” solution to the issue.
“It’s an evolution to figure out how to satisfy the various kinds of people who live in Clarendon,” Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes said. Hynes lives just a few blocks from the epicenter of the pub crawls in Clarendon. “People don’t want Clarendon’s reputation to be only what happened at that last pub crawl. Business owners want people to come to Clarendon and eat and enjoy all the amenities.”
“We’re going to do this and monitor and see what happens,” Hynes continued, “and if this doesn’t work, we’ll be back here… to see if we need to take any more steps or not.”
Photo via Project D.C. Events
Pub crawl organizers should have to obtain a permit for each crawl and reimburse the county for the cost of extra police on the street.
That’s what Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is expected to recommend to the County Board at its meeting later this month. Donnellan will recommend that pub crawls be classified as “special events,” subject to the county’s special events policy, according to county officials.
Arlington’s special events policy was last updated in 2012. The policy is designed to ensure that adequate resources are available for special events while allowing the county to recover its support costs.
Classifying pub crawls as a special event is seen as a compromise, somewhere in between the crawl participants who would like the events to continue unabated and residents who see the crawls as a nuisance and would like them curtailed. The events will continue, but in a more regulated environment, provided organizers can afford the extra costs.
“Organizers would have to get a special events permit and would be required to cover the costs of additional police, fire and trash services — above core services — generated by their event,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com. “At this point, the Manager’s recommendation does not include any minimum or maximum allowed numbers of pub crawls — the applications will be reviewed as they come in and approved based on the availability of resources.”
Donnellan’s recommendation is coming less than a month after an attendee at the All American Bar Crawl (photos from the event, above) allegedly stripped naked and led police on a car chase that ended in a crash in Clarendon. In an email to a concerned constituent, County Board Chair Jay Fisette addressed the incident.
“I want you to know that we have no tolerance for this kind of behavior. At the same time I want to stress that this incident was highly unusual,” Fisette wrote. “Our top priority is safety. The Board has concerns about the impacts of pub crawls and in April asked the Manager to research options to address these impacts.”
Fisette went on to say that pub crawls can be regulated, but not banned.
Clarendon is one of our most vibrant and lively areas. We support the businesses there, and we welcome visitors who patronize our many great restaurants, shops and pubs. We want to keep it a great place to live, visit, dine, work and shop. It’s important to know that, under Virginia law, we can’t ban pub crawls. We can, however, regulate pub crawls to ensure that they are safe for all and effectively managed. Part of that regulation must include ways that the County can recover some of the costs associated with the stepped-up enforcement activities during the events, and trash and litter cleanup after the events. In the meantime, as part of the FY15 budget, the Board approved one-time funding ($42,000) for overtime costs in the Police department while a longer term strategy is developed to address the increasing frequency and cost associated with pub crawl events.
In addition to the June incident, a bar crawl attendee made the news in March when she allegedly showed up naked at the Arlington Magistrate’s Office and demanded that she be allowed to visit her husband, who was arrested earlier that day during a St. Patrick’s Day-themed pub crawl.
Both bar crawls were organized by Courthouse-based Project D.C. Events. According to the company, the two events attracted a combined 8,500-9,000 registered attendees.
“It’s two incidents out of thousands of people,” said Project D.C. Events co-owner Alex Lopez, who also pointed out that neither happened inside a bar. Lopez and fellow co-owner Mike Bramson said they work closely with Arlington County Police and with participating bars to ensure there’s plenty of security on hand.
Neither could explain why bar crawls in Arlington have resulted in high-profile incidents and controversy while D.C.-based crawls seem to go off without a hitch.
“We’ve taken the same steps in D.C. as we do in Arlington,” Bramson said.
“You don’t hear about bar crawls in D.C. because nothing happens at them,” said Lopez. “If you say, ‘oh everything was peaceful in the last bar crawl,’ well, no one is going to read that.”
Bramson and Lopez said they and other bar crawl organizers shouldn’t be on the hook for the cost of extra police staffing because the events are already generating thousands in extra tax revenue.
It’s the latest high-profile police incident involving a bar crawl attendee in Arlington. In March a Reston woman allegedly showed up naked at the Arlington Magistrate’s Office and demanded that she be allowed to visit her husband, who was arrested earlier that day. Both had attended the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Shamrock Crawl, according to police.
The drunken antics of bar crawl attendees continue to irk residents of the neighborhoods around Clarendon. Some are calling for additional restrictions, or even an outright ban, on bar crawls. On the other hand, supporters say bar crawls are fun events that provide a social outlet for younger residents and a big boost for local businesses.
What, in your opinion, should Arlington policymakers do about bar crawls, if anything? (Assume that reducing the frequency of bar crawls is inclusive of any changes in police staffing you might support.)
There was “chaos” on the streets of Clarendon Saturday night when a naked bar crawl attendee ran from police, hopped in a car and led cops on a high speed chase that ended in a crash.
Just past 8:00 p.m., police say a man who had been participating in the All American Bar Crawl stripped naked in Goody’s (3125 Wilson Blvd) pizza restaurant. The man, described as a black male in his 20s, left his clothes in the restaurant and ran outside, where police quickly gave chase, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man hopped into a car — police couldn’t say if it was his car — and took off. Police cruisers followed, and chased the drunk man through an adjacent neighborhood. The man then made it back to Clarendon and started going the wrong way down Wilson Blvd, before striking two parked vehicles near the intersection with N. Highland Street, Sternbeck said.
The man — still stark naked — jumped out of the car window and started running, but was soon tased by police and taken into custody, according to Sternbeck. He was taken to Virginia Hospital Center as a precaution, and is expected to be booked at the Arlington County Detention Center tonight on numerous charges including indecent exposure.
A large crowd witnessed the incident, Sternbeck noted. One witness on Twitter said the largely intoxicated crowd that gathered started chanted “USA” as the nude man was detained.
NBC 4 tweeted the following photo of the arrest.
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) June 29, 2014
Photo (top) courtesy Keith Hall
Organizers say “thousands” of patriotic partiers are expected to flock to local watering holes like Clarendon Ballroom, Velocity Five, Bracket Room and Mad Rose Tavern, which are among the 14 participating bars announced so far for the event.
Participants — who are encouraged to dress in red, white and blue – receive specials at each bar, a “signature freedom mug,” “patriotic party beads,” $2 pizza slices at Bronx Pizza and raffle tickets.
This is not the first year for the All American Bar Crawl, which is being held in advance of the Fourth of July. The event was also held in Clarendon last year.
Arlington County policymakers are currently considering measures to impose additional restrictions or fees on bar crawls.
A month after a particularly rowdy St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl this year, the county announced in April that it’s exploring the idea of establishing new regulations for pub crawls, perhaps also providing a bigger police presence and making crawl organizers pay for the police and medical support.
Meanwhile, the county has created an online survey, asking those who live and work in Arlington for their thoughts on setting a time limit for bar crawls; a cap on the number of bar crawls per year, per month or per neighborhood; and who should pay for police, fire department and street cleaning services.
The one area where there is nearly universal agreement: bar crawl organizers, not the county, should pay for the added police, fire/EMS and street cleaning services.
There was also a free-response section for “other views and suggestions” on bar crawls. Opponents of the bar crawls — who seem to outnumber those who support such events in the survey’s “responses” section — didn’t hold back.
Excerpts of some of their responses:
- “Bar crawl participants should be prohibited from entering residential areas adjacent to the commercial area where the bar crawl occurs, unless they (1) can demonstrate they live there, or (2) have parked there and pass a breathalyzer test.”
- “Beer bottles in my yard; drunks found sleeping on neighbors’ porches… I think the hours of the crawl need to be limited… much, much too long.”
- “‘Bar crawling’ needs to be sharply curtailed. The noise and public urination at these events lowers property values, resulting in lower tax revenues for the County. Even worse, the binge drinking that occurs at these events can prove fatal to the drinker.”
- “I am shocked that our county board promotes public drunks and for MONEY no less… What kind of a reputation does that render?”
- “Organizers should need to obtain a license/permit to hold such an event, and that should cost money. “
- “We are not U St (I don’t want to live there), so an overabundance of large professional bar crawls would not be pleasant for those who have lived here for a while. I would be more in favor of an event where they shut down streets where the crawls are located, hopefully making it safer for both drivers and revelers.”
- “I think these are totally inappropriate events. They encourage binge drinking, littering, public obscenity, assault, and other bad behavior. I have seen a group of 40-50 bar crawlers walking through my neighborhood (Lyon Park), directly in front of my yard in broad daylight. They were drinking from solo cups, swearing loudly and littering — and this was only on the way TO the event.”
- “We already have bar crawl participants throwing up on lawns in the Clarendon area. It is unfair to expect people who live nearby to absorb this level of nuisance. Bar crawls also model bad behavior for Arlington teens.”
- “My main concern with bar crawls isn’t the crawls themselves (although they have an annoying impact on parking availability), its the long-term impact they may have on the character of the business’ that move into the area. There’s been a trend over the last few years for restaurants to close down and be replaced by ‘sports bars’ and other establishments dedicated solely to getting smashed.”
- “Residents with or without kids should not have to put up with the additional late night noise and other nonsense (fights, vomit, public urination, black outs requiring paramedics, petty property crimes) that can reasonably be expected to happen from time to time when dealing with groups of drunken pub crawlers.”
- “The police and fire/EMS are busy enough on regular weekends and holidays without adding unnecessary insanity and work. Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think we don’t need bar crawls at all. They’re more of a headache than they’re worth.”
There were also comments generally supportive of bar crawls:
Reporter Embeds with Clarendon Bar Crawl — Reporter Dan Zak embedded himself with revelers participating in the Cinco de MEGA-Crawl over the weekend. He found plenty of loud, opinionated young people — one of whom compared Clarendon to Brooklyn — but he apparently did not find any public urination, vomiting or destruction of property worth noting. [Washington Post]
Parents Rip Board on Autism Program Cut — Parents of children with autism swarmed the Arlington School Board’s budget meeting, angry with a proposed $270,000 cut to a program that provides assistants for autistic students and their teachers. [InsideNova, Fox 5]
Bracket Room Facing Backlash? — A backlash seems to be forming against so-called “female-friendly” restaurants. Some women say the designation is insulting. One such restaurant mentioned in an article about the backlash: Clarendon’s the Bracket Room, which has billed itself as a female-friendly sports bar. [The Week]
Preservation Arlington Mourns 2013 Losses — The group Preservation Arlington is lamenting the loss of 179 single-family homes lost in Arlington in 2013. The group is also marking the loss or impending loss of the Blue Goose building; part of the Arlington House Woods and Arlington National Cemetery’s Seneca sandstone perimeter wall; and a number of garden apartment buildings. [Preservation Arlington]
Ft. Myer Road Closed – Cyclists who bike on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall may be impacted by a road closure on the base. McNair Road is closed from Lee Avenue to Marshall Drive due to “road damage.” The closure is expected to be in place until Monday. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
GoCity, which also organizes the annual Shamrock Fest in D.C., says participating bars include Clarendon Grill, Velocity 5, Mad Rose Tavern, Greene Turtle, Hunan One, Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, Mister Days, Wilson Tavern, Hard Times and “more to be added.” The crawl will feature “exclusive drink and food specials at each stop” and “Cinco de Mayo festivities, entertainment, music & fun.”
The Arlington County Board this month approved additional funding that will allow the police department to have more officers on hand during pub crawls to make sure patrons don’t get out of hand. A St. Patrick’s Day-themed bar crawl in March resulted in numerous alcohol-related arrests and resident complaints.
The number and popularity of bar crawls in Arlington has increased, and it’s caught the attention of the Arlington County Police Department and county government.
At the Arlington County Board’s budget mark-up meeting this afternoon, the County Board approved an addition $42,000 to the police specifically for “pub crawl support.” Pub crawls in Clarendon, Courthouse and Ballston have drawn crowds close to 5,000-6,000 people, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.
“I’m becoming a pub crawl expert, not by choice,” Arlington Police Chief Doug Scott told the Board Wednesday. “We are receiving crawl requests at a very escalated pace because they’ve been very popular. We thought we were going to have three, that went to nine, and it’s growing.”
Scott said he’s planning a meeting with the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association on April 30, but told ARLnow.com a time and a location have not been finalized yet. He and the Board discussed the potential for regulatory measures for potentially reining in the crawls, or requesting the restaurants and/or organizers provide the funds for the police support.
“There are a lot of legal issues around some of the choices the manager and board will have in terms of how we address these crawls in the future,” Scott said.
Board Member Libby Garvey asked Scott if the crawls were “a little like Mardi Gras except all year long.” Board Member Mary Hynes, who lives near Clarendon, said she has had a hard time wading through the revelers when she wants “to go to the grocery store.”
Lines for bars extend far down the sidewalk for many of the bar crawls, which include crawls on St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and other holidays. A bar crawl in late June last year led to 13 alcohol-related arrests, and one reveler during this year’s Shamrock Crawl showed up naked to the Arlington County Jail while trying to visit her husband, who was arrested during the crawl.
“Our level of disorderliness really escalates on days where we have pub crawls,” said Scott, who told the Board he’s reached out to law enforcement in cities around the country to ask how they’ve handled bar crawls. “I just signed off today on a comprehensive ground response. I think there’s no aspect of the community, especially around some of these bar locations, that are not impacted.”
The April 30 meeting appears to be the first step toward the Board possibly setting new policies regarding pub crawls. Board member Walter Tejada, however, cautioned against taking too harsh a stance against the events.
“I want to be careful not to be the hardheaded government keeping people from having fun,” he said. “I want to strike that balance, but it’s an issue of safety. If you have data that it could be leading to bad things, then we can’t ignore it.”
Photo via Groupon
The Shamrock Crawl, a St. Patrick’s Day-themed event that bills itself as “Arlington’s biggest bar crawl,” will take place on Saturday.
At least 15 Courthouse and Clarendon-area bars and restaurants are participating in the crawl, which is scheduled from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 online or $20 at the door, and include a “signature shamrock mug,” party favors, green beads, food and drink specials and a $2 pizza slice deal at Bronx Pizza (3100 Clarendon Blvd).
“Join thousands of fellow Irish loving and beer drinkers as they flood Arlington and turn it green!” says the event’s website. Promoter Project D.C. Events also produced a video highlighting last year’s Shamrock Crawl (above, possibly NSFW due to song lyrics).
The inaugural Clarendon’s Finest Holiday Bar Crawl will run this Saturday, Dec. 14, from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m., with tickets selling for $10 and all proceeds going to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Clarendon Grill, Mad Rose Tavern, Mister Days, Mexicali Blues, Hunan Number One, Bracket Room and SoBe Bar & Bistro will all be participating with drink specials throughout the evening. Registration for the crawl will be at Sobe (3100 Clarendon Blvd) from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Prizes will be given out for the best costume, dynamic duo and best group costume at the bar crawl ending party from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Mister Days, at the corner of N. Highland Street and Washington Blvd.
There are a number of events happening around Arlington for the holiday this weekend. Among them:
Doorways’ Howl-o-ween Dog Walk for the Homeless
Saturday, Oct. 26, from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Doorways, a domestic violence shelter for women and their children, is hosting a dog-walking fundraiser at Big Walnut Park (1915 N. Harrison Street). While many similar shelters don’t allow pets, Doorways provides a place for both victims of domestic abuse and their pets. Visitors are encouraged to dress themselves and their pets in Halloween costumes, and dogs can compete for prizes. Registration is $30 for adults and $20 for children under 16, with proceeds going to Doorways.
FALLoween at Market Common Clarendon
Saturday, Oct. 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Market Common Clarendon, at 2700 Clarendon Blvd, is hosting its own pet-friendly parade Saturday morning. There will be trick-or-treating, a mini pumpkin and a petting zoo. A pet and human costume parade will start at 11:00 a.m. and a “Princess vs. Superhero fitness contest” will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All events are free.
Douglas Park Halloween Trail of Terror
Saturday, Oct. 26, starting at 7:00 p.m.
Douglas Park will host its second annual haunted trail this Saturday evening Starting at 1620 S. Quincy Street, visitors will walk through Douglas Park and walk through trails where they’ll encounter goblins, swamp monsters and other ghouls and ghosts. There will also be a children’s area with milder fun. To experience the trail, visitors should bring canned food for donation to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.
Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash
Friday, Oct. 25, starting at 8:00 p.m.
Friday night at Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd), DC101′s Elliot in the Morning show will host a costume party with a $3,000 cash prize going to the winner. Doors will open at 8:00 p.m. and the cover charge is $15 before 10:00 p.m. No costumes with stilts or weapons will be permitted. Sixty party-goers will be selected by judges in the crowd to be finalists by 10:30 p.m., and crowd applause will determine the winner among those 60.
Not So Silent Cinema Presents Nosferatu
Saturday, Oct. 26, starting at 8:00 p.m.
At Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) Saturday night, a klezmer quintet will play accompaniment to the 1922 silent movie classic “Nosferatu,” cinema’s first vampire flick. The movie will be shown at the Dome Theater. Tickets are $15.
HiBall Monster Bar Crawl
Friday, Oct. 25, from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.
HiBall events is hosting a bar crawl Friday evening from Courthouse to Ballston, from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. Participating bars include Spider Kelly’s, World of Beer, Wilson Tavern, Whitlow’s on Wilson and The Front Page. Tickets are $15 and participating revelers can participate in a costume contest via Facebook, with the winner getting $200 and gift cards from participating restaurants.
Photo courtesy of Doorways
Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted — A grand jury has indicted Arlington County Sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson in the shooting death of 22-year-old Julian Dawkins. Patterson is charged with murder and a firearms charge. A trial date has yet to be set. [WJLA]
Near Record Humidity Mid-Summer — The mid-summer period from June 30 through July 23 was the second most humid in recorded history. The dew point averaged a steamy 71.2 degrees fahrenheit during that time. [Capital Weather Gang]
Shirlington Bar Crawl Set for Saturday — A bar crawl to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will take place in Shirlington on Saturday afternoon and evening. There will be food and drink specials at each of the four restaurants/bars on the crawl. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
On Saturday, Arlington County police made 13 alcohol-related arrests in Clarendon during the All-American Bar Crawl, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Among the arrests were two for assault on a police officer and one for a man who attempted, unsuccessfully, to throw a chair through the front window of a business.
Sternbeck said calls for police in Clarendon were “steady” throughout the evening, up until about midnight. “Multiple” fights were reported during that time.
On Sunday, meanwhile, police were called to a pool on the 1600 block of S. Eads Street — at the Crystal Towers apartment complex — for an intoxicated man who allegedly exposed himself.
The 29-year-old Arlington resident exposed himself to about 25 people, including children, while sitting in a chair poolside, Sternbeck said. A lifeguard asked the man to leave, and police arrested him for indecent exposure at his apartment.