Att’y General to Consider Streetcar Referendum — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) will be asked by Del. Patrick Hope (D) to weigh in on whether Arlington County has the legal authority to hold an advisory referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. County officials say they don’t have the authority, and without General Assembly approval can only use a referendum for a general obligation bond issue. [InsideNova]
County Fair Adds Pentagon City Shuttle — The Arlington County Fair this year is adding a new shuttle option. In addition to shuttles from the Arlington Career Center, Ballston Metro and the I-66 parking garage, a shuttle will now run every 30 minutes from the Pentagon City Metro station. The fair runs from Aug. 6-10. [Arlington County Fair]
Falls Church, Arlington Treasurers Are Friends — Carla de la Pava and Jody Acosta, the new interim treasurers of Arlington County and Falls Church, are lifelong friends who grew up together in Alexandria. [Falls Church News-Press]
Rand Paul Makes News at Arlington Event — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made some headlines after speaking at the Young Americans for Liberty convention in Rosslyn last night. Paul told the libertarian group that he will no longer appear on MSNBC until the network apologizes for “lousy lies” about his position on the Civil Rights Act. [CNN]
Half-Priced Cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory — The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Clarendon (and others around the country) are offering half-priced slices of cheesecake for the second day in a row today in honor of National Cheesecake Day. The restaurant chain this week got some unwelcome attention with several “Xtreme Eating awards” for its calorie-laden meals. One slice of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake alone has 1,500 calories. [Cheesecake Factory, Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
And that’s just the keynote address.
A new conference is coming to Crystal City, and no it’s not another meeting about cow udders, accountants or nanotechnology.
CatalystCon East, described as “a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality,” will be coming to the Crystal City Marriott (1999 Jefferson Davis Highway) from March 15-17.
The conference features some 75 speakers, including porn star Jessica Drake, Dr. Charlie Glickman (author of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure”), Cunning Minx (described as a “kinky boobiesexual”), fetish model Sinnamon Love, and 69-year-old “senior sexpert” Joan Price.
Also on the speaker list is Rev. Rebecca Turner, who will be giving a presentation entitled “Ending the War Between Religion and Sex.”
Other planned sessions have titles like “Entrepreneurial IQ: 10 keys to designing an unconventional career in sexuality,” “Feminist Porn: The Politics of Producing Pleasure,” “PRIDE & Prejudice: Confronting Homophobia in Communities of Color,” and “Sex with Benefits: Progressive Swinging.”
This is the inaugural CatalystCon East, planned after the inaugural CatalystCon West proved successful in September. Registration is required for the three-day conference.
The annual National Right to Life Convention will be coming to Arlington later this month.
The convention is billed as the “42nd annual meeting of pro-life grassroots leaders and experts from across the country.” The three day event starts on Thursday, July 28, and will feature six “major sessions,” more than 100 pro-life speakers and more than 70 workshops.
Speakers will include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway. The previous two National Right to Life conventions were held in Jacksonville, Fla. and Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Hyatt Regency has been on a roll in terms of booking notable or unique events with disparate themes. It has recently hosted the 2011 DMV Music Awards, the Anime USA convention and the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, and a trade group meeting about the health of cow udders.
MLK Day in Arlington — Arlington County government offices, libraries, and schools will be closed today in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. See the full list of closures here. ARLnow.com will return for a full day of news coverage on Tuesday.
GGW Endorses Bondi — The influential local blog Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Melissa Bondi in the upcoming Democratic caucus for Arlington County Board. GGW said Bondi’s “experience, openness to citizen input and dedication to smart urban development” outweighs her recent “tax controversies.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Wardian Runs Two Marathons in Two Days — Local marathoner Michael Wardian didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, but he did manage to run two marathons in two days, attracting some media attention in the process. [Houston Chronicle]
Tattoo Convention Comes to Crystal City — The Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City hosted the second annual D.C. Tattoo Expo over the weekend. Organizers expected the event to attract about 10,000 tattoo aficionados. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by mj*laflaca
The Anime USA convention, an annual celebration of Japanese arts and popular culture, has brought plenty of colorful, costumed characters to Crystal City over the years.
This year’s convention at the Crystal City Hyatt was no exception — but it also represented what may be the last hurrah for the convention’s tenure in Arlington. Next year Anime USA will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman, off of Connecticut Avenue in Northwest D.C.
“The Marriott will offer a larger, convienent [sic], and more cell phone friendly location as the [convention] continues to grow,” organizers wrote on the Anime USA blog.
The convention attracts thousands of passionate attendees each year. Below are some of the more memorable costumes we spotted around Crystal City Friday night.
Free Coffee for Earth Day — To celebrate Earth Day, Starbucks is offering a free coffee or tea to anybody who brings a reusable mug or tumbler. Caribou Coffee, which has locations in Shirlington and Crystal City, is also offering free coffee for those who bring reusable drinkware. [Starbucks, Shirlington Village Blogspot]
Ballston Recognized for Environmental Efforts — Ballston has been named one of the top 10 “green” neighborhoods in the Washington area by real estate listing service MRIS. [Prince of Petworth]
Lawsuit May Be Filed to Stop Mark Center Moves — Rep. Jim Moran is urging Virginia officials to sue the federal government after the Department of Defense’s inspector general found big potential traffic problems with the new Mark Center in Alexandria. According to the inspector general’s report, the Army misled local officials about traffic issues at the site. A lawsuit could keep hundreds or even thousands of jobs in Arlington while improvements are made to the Mark Center’s transportation infrastructure. [Washington Examiner]
Post Tackles Twilight Convention — In an amusing but sadly photo-less write-up of last weekend’s Twilight fan convention at the Sheraton National Hotel on Columbia Pike, a Washington Post reporter discovers that most die-hard Twilight convention-goers are 25 to 50 year-old women. There are, however, a few male fans, who may or may not have been more interested in the female fans than in the movie itself. [Washington Post]
Shirlington Village Trades Escalator for Stairs – Eschewing the normal progression of technology, Shirlington Village has completed a project that removed an escalator and replaced it with a set of stairs. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
In January, the National Mastitis Council brought its annual meeting to Arlington. Approximately 400 people from around the country and around the world gathered for four days and three nights at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City to discuss the latest advances in improving milk quality and maintaining the health of cow udders.
The total estimated economic impact for local businesses: $400,000. Total estimated hotel tax revenue: $11,250.
Each year, dozens of such specialized industry events quietly come to Arlington, spend bundles of money and leave without most residents even knowing they were here. All told — while there’s no official accounting of it — there are likely hundreds of meetings, conventions, tour groups and reunions that stay in Arlington hotels on an annual basis. And there are millions of dollars to be made from those gatherings — by hotels, restaurants, taxi companies and the county government.
The average size of a meeting booked through the Arlington Convention and Visitor’s Service is 175 people, according to Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Karen Vasquez. The average meeting attendee spends $116 per day in Arlington on things like meals, transportation, shopping and attractions. Meanwhile, the average hotel room in Arlington is just over $165 per night.
Put that together, and you have the average three-day meeting producing about $118,650 worth of spending in Arlington County. Of that spending, the county collects a 4 percent tax on meals and a 5.25 percent tax on the hotel room. Not a bad haul for a random meeting of a group that most people have probably never heard of — like the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.
(The hotel tax will be going down to 5 percent in 2012 thanks to political wrangling in Richmond. The 0.25 percent that Arlington will lose had been going to fund Arlington’s tourism promotion efforts. In its new budget, the County Board included one-time funding to keep the tourism office open through the middle of 2012.)
After a jump, a list of some of the other meetings that have recently come or will be coming to Arlington.
Hundreds of Twilight fans will be flocking to the Sheraton National Hotel (900 S. Orme Street) this weekend for the D.C. leg of the Official Twilight Saga Fan Convention Tour.
The convention, which starts today, will feature appearances by a number of Twilight stars (including Chaske Spencer, left) as well as parties, musical performances, trivia competitions, auctions, photo ops and a costume ball. Tickets to the convention range from $20 for a one day pass to $289 for a weekend ‘gold’ package.
The event will be hosted by the sisters behind The Hillywood Show, of YouTube fame.
When we reported on the convention last year, it was sharing the Sheraton with a meeting of the Nation of Islam. We’re still disappointed that no one sent us a photo of the Fanpires, Twi-Hards and Nation of Islam members together in line for continental breakfast.
Pike Realignment in County Legislative Priorities — The county’s wish-list of federal legislative priorities includes a land exchange with the federal government to allow Columbia Pike to be shifted closer to Pentagon City as it approaches South Joyce Street, which would in turn allow the county to build an Arlington “heritage center.” Also on the list: the Potomac River boathouse and a plastic bag tax, plus provisions against helicopter noise and additional flights at Reagan National Airport. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Truth in Fur Labeling Law Takes Effect — A bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran (D) and signed into law in December goes into effect today. The law, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, closes a loophole that allowed products with less than $150 worth of fur to avoid being labeled as a fur product. “This loophole has been exploited to pawn off dog, cat, and other animal fur as an artificial fiber,” Moran said in a statement yesterday. [Federal Trade Commission]
Green Living Expo Takes Place Saturday — The group Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment is hosting its second-annual Green Living Expo on Saturday at Washington Lee High School. The expo will feature eco-friendly products on display, seminars, a raffle, and activities for kids. DISCLOSURE: The Green Living Expo is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment]
On Friday, county board chairman Chris Zimmerman will be joined by Viktor Anushkevychus, mayor of the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, at a signing ceremony in Crystal City to make the familial relationship official. The signing will be part of the 55th annual Sister Cities International Conference, which Arlington is hosting this weekend.
Ivano-Frankivsk will become Arlington’s fifth sister city, joining Aachen, Germany; Coyoacán, Mexico; Reims, France, and San Miguel, El Salvador.
Ivano-Frankivsk is a historic city located in southwestern Ukraine. It has an extensive public transportation network, an international airport, an “old town” district, six universities and an amusement park.
In addition, Ivano-Frankivsk is home to professional soccer, hockey, basketball and rugby teams. It has four stadiums and two arenas which it uses to host the teams and other athletic clubs.
Photo via UkraineTrek.com
A family reunion of sorts will be taking place in Arlington next week. The Sister Cities International program will be holding its 55th annual conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1601 South Eads Street) from March 3 -5.
When it comes to sister cities, Arlington is part of a big family. Arlington County has familial relations with Aachen, Germany; Coyoacan, Mexico; Reims, France; and San Miguel, El Salvador. A relationship with Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine is also in the works.
So when the whole extended family comes to town, Arlington’s sister city organization wants to make sure we cross the T’s and dot the I’s.
The organization is looking for dozens of volunteers to fill various roles at the conference.
From Arlington Sister City Association board member Chris Dufour:
Volunteers will be needed to man registration, information and membership desks as well as ushering and directing conference attendees to and from buses and around the hotel. Volunteers will also be needed to assist in setting up exhibit halls, distributing lunches, and check attendee badges.
SCI will conduct a mandatory volunteer orientation from 3-4pm and again at 5:30-6:30pm on Wednesday, March 2nd at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Salon B. Volunteers will help stuff conference bags while participating in orientation and meeting SCI staff.
Shifts will occur over 3 days from Thursday, March 3rd, to Saturday, March 5th. This is an all ages volunteer opportunity; we typically have volunteers from high school all the way up to retired seniors.
Several shifts are available for any of these opportunities.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Malcolm Phillips at 571-214-1827.
The American Booksellers Associations, which represents independent booksellers, held a four-day convention in Crystal City last week to network and discuss business strategies.
Among the activities was a field trip to Arlington’s Revolution Cycles.
NPR tagged along as Revolution Cycles CEO Mike Hammanwright shared words of wisdom on how to connect with customers.
Hammanwright said consumers are passionate about books in the same way they’re passionate about bicycles. To connect with those passionate consumers, you have to have a passionate (and well-trained) sales staff.
“If we’re listening and paying attention, and we hear what you’re looking for, then we can show you the products we have that we feel meet those needs,” Hammanwright said. “If a customer comes expecting that expertise, and you don’t deliver it, you’re going to do very poorly.”
Read more from NPR.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) The annual Anime USA convention has brought scores of, er, colorful characters to the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City.
The convention, which ends on Sunday, features bands, workshops, celebrity meet and greets, concerts, a Japanese marketplace and more. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people, mostly younger, are expected to attend.
Samantha Burke, who along with four family members traveled here from North Carolina in a decorated white van, said Anime USA is a “celebration of Japanese culture.”
Almost as interesting as watching the sea of costumed humanity standing outside the hotel is watching the reactions of unsuspecting passersby. Taxi drivers, office workers, hotel guests not affiliated with the festivities — all crane their necks.
“Wow,” said one woman, gawking from the sidewalk. “All I can say is wow.”
The crowd frightened at least one citizen, who called police earlier today when she thought something was amiss. One officer told us that in years past, police have been called when convention-goers with fake guns or samurai swords have walked into banks or restaurants.