Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
The organization estimates that 811,500 people will travel at least 50 miles this weekend, a 2.6 percent increase from 2012. Of those travelers, 707,000 — or 87 percent — are expected to travel by car. About 8 percent will travel by air and 5 percent will travel by train, bus or boat, AAA projects.
AAA says the average traveler will journey about 600 miles, which is close to the national average. Gas prices are “unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day,” even though most consider the current national average of $3.54 a gallon “too high,” according to AAA.
“Call it summer’s last fling,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After staying put throughout the summer, Washingtonians are yearning for travel, so they are getting the heck out of town for Labor Day. In fact, this is the fourth year of increases in local Labor Day travelers in the Washington metro area.”
“The effect of sequestration is still felt locally,” Townsend continued. “However, local residents can now gauge its full impact on their discretionary budgets with the recent announcement that the number of civilian furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six. That’s enough unanticipated good news to put folks around here in the mood to travel.”
Metro Accident Victim Identified as GMU Student — The person struck and killed on the Metrorail Orange Line tracks between East Falls Church and Ballston early Sunday morning has been identified as 21-year-old George Mason University student Patrick Sibley. Sibley’s brother says he did not have a good sense of direction and may have become lost after leaving a bar in Clarendon and trying to make it home to Vienna. Metro is not commenting on the incident while it is under investigation. [Washington Post]
McDonnell Touts Budget Surplus — Gov. Bob McDonnell says the state ended its fiscal year on June 30 with $585 million more than projected. That’s the largest state surplus since 2005. The cumulative surplus during McDonnell’s nearly four years in office comes in at around $2 billion. [Washington Times]
County Labor Day Closures — Arlington County has posted a list of programs and services that will remain operational while the county offices are closed for Labor Day on Monday, September 2. Libraries, parks, pools, courts and schools will all be closed. [Arlington County]
This year’s event, which was attended by dozens of local Democrats and many of Arlington’s elected officials, included a pie-eating contest.
A number of local Democratic notables participated in a eating contest, which challenged competitors to finish a pie as quickly as possible, without using their hands. Rep. Moran’s son, Patrick, won a decisive victory, followed by Paul Holland in second place and Ben Tribbett in third place.
A panel of judges chose Sheriff Beth Arthur’s “Jailhouse Chili” as the best of the 14 chili entries, but a “popular vote” of attendees resulted in Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy’s “Taxes Chili with a Caribbean Twist” being named the “top of the ticket.” Among the runners-up in the popular vote were Del. Patrick Hope’s “Hope for the Best” chili, the Rep. Jim Moran “Victory 2012″ chili, and Arlington School Board candidate Noah Simon’s “School House Rock” chili.
Other attendees at the event included 2013 Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra, state Senator Barbara Favola, County Board member Chris Zimmerman, School Board Chair Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, and ACDC Chairman Mike Lieberman.
The official first day of astronomical fall isn’t until Saturday, Sept. 22 but, in all practicality, many of the trappings of summer end with Labor Day.
Gone are summer vacations, outdoor swimming pools, and summer festivals like outdoor movies and the Arlington County Fair. Starting, however, are more mild temperatures, football, and fall events like Oktoberfest, wine festivals and Clarendon Day.
Which do you prefer? Are you sad about the end of summer, or happy about the beginning of fall?
New Exhibit At N. Va. Art Center -- The new Northern Virginia Art Center in Crystal City will be hosting a new exhibit starting tomorrow, Sept. 1, until Sept. 30. The exhibit, entitled “Grand Visions: Small World,” features a jury-selected collection of visual artworks (including paintings, pottery and sculpture) from a variety of local artists. An opening gala will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14. [Northern Virginia Art Center]
Marymount Receives Cybersecurity Grant — Arlington-based Marymount University has been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a four-year cybersecurity scholarship program. [Press Release]
Reminder: Labor Day Closures and Traffic – Most county offices, with the notable exception of the election office, will be closed for Memorial Day. Drivers should expect busy highways if they’re heading out of town.
Despite quickly rising gas prices – jumping at least 40 cents in the past two months – AAA says this will be the busiest Labor Day weekend in terms of travel since 2008 and the start of the recession. It’s the third summer holiday travel period this year projected to set a post-recession record.
Some 799,900 Washington area residents are expected to travel more than 50 miles for Labor Day, up 3.5 percent from 2011. Of those travelers, 86.8 percent are expected to travel by car, 7.9 percent by air, and 5.3 percent by other means.
AAA is cautioning travelers to check weather forecasts before they leave, however, as Tropical Storm Isaac continues to head north from the Gulf coast
“As they prepare to embark on their Labor Day vacation trips, local residents are urged to stay abreast of local forecasts both at their departure city and at their points of destinations,” said Lon Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs. “While it is challenging to predict the impact that Hurricane Isaac may have on Labor Day travel plans, tropical storms and hurricanes, like this one, typically do not negatively influence travel at the national level.”
“It’s very encouraging that the total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers across the nation and the Washington metro region is expected to reach a new post-recession high,” Anderson continued. “Even more encouraging, this is a travel ‘trifecta’ or the third such increase in holiday travel during this summertime. Clearly, Americans and Washingtonians are trying to put the recession behind them.”
Arlington’s administrative offices, public libraries, courts, schools and nature centers will be closed on Monday, Sept. 3. Community centers will be closed, with the exception of Barcroft, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
County pools will be open under a modified schedule. The Wakefield High School pool will be open from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Labor Day. The Yorktown pool will also be open from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m., and the Washington-Lee pool will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
ART buses will operate under a holiday schedule. Trash and recycling collection will continue as normal.
One county office that will remain open is the Arlington voting office, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The office will be open on Saturday, Sept. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for absentee voting in the 45th District House of Delegates special election. The office will also be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Labor Day for “legal requirements.”
The election — 45th District voters will have the choice of candidates Tim McGhee (R), Rob Krupicka (D) and Justin R. Malkin (L) — is taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
The plan was for elected officials and other Democratic notables to get dunked while raising money for the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Alas, Mother Nature had other plans. With storms in the forecast, organizers reluctantly canceled the first annual Democratic dunking. Instead, as heavy rains descended on the area, attendees had to make due with the usual formula of chili, music and conversation as they huddled inside the hot and humid Lyon Park Community Center.
Among the brave dunk tank volunteers who stayed dry last night were County Board member Mary Hynes, Del. David Englin, School Board member Sally Baird, former 31st District state Senate candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto. Also on the dunk list were blogger and consultant Ben Tribbett, ACDC Chair Mike Lieberman, ACDC Finance Chair Bree Raum, Arlington Joint Campaign Co-Chair Lauren Hall, former School Board candidate Terron Sims and ACDC precinct operations chair Kip Malinosky.
County Board member Walter Tejada, who’s up for re-election, captured this year’s “best chili” crown for his “inclusive” selection of meat, mild veggie and spicy veggie chilis.
The monicker, which comes from AAA Mid-Atlantic, refers to the sudden, jolting return to heavy traffic that occurs when Washingtonians return from their summer vacations and head back to work — while students in Virginia, at the same time, head back to school.
Among other traffic jams, nearly the entire length of northbound I-395 was slow this morning, from the 14th Street Bridge through Alexandria.
How was your commute, either on the roads or on transit?
Courts, libraries, schools and the Department of Human Services will be closed. All community centers will be closed, except for the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
ART buses will operate on a holiday schedule. Parking meters will not be enforced. Trash and recycling pickup will take place as scheduled.
Pinkberry Opens in Clarendon — The new Pinkberry frozen yogurt store in Clarendon officially opens its doors at 11:00 this morning. Yesterday evening, people queued up around the block as the store gave away free frozen yogurt to anyone willing to wait in line. The giveaway didn’t seem to be hurting Red Mango, Pinkberry’s froyo rival. One block away, Red Mango was still doing brisk business as the Pinkberry line grew.
Dems Plan Dunk Tank at Chili Cookoff — Arlington County Democrats have a new weapon in their fundraising arsenal — a dunk tank. County Dems plan to roll out the dunk tank during their annual Labor Day Chili Cookoff, with the goal of collecting cash from those who want to dunk elected officials. [Sun Gazette]
Residents Raise Money for Nat’l Park — Dominion Hills/Bon Air residents Jason Andelman and Kelly Holland are “regular city folks with a hankering to get back to nature,” according to the Shenandoah National Park Trust. That’s why the pair — friends whose kids go to school together at Ashlawn Elementary — is planning to hike 100 miles through the park in September to help raise $5,000 for the Trust. In addition to being an avid hiker, Andelman is also the owner of Clarendon chocolate shop Artisan Confections (1025 N. Fillmore Street). [Shenandoah National Park Trust, Crooked Trail 100 Blog]
Rustico Plans ‘Family Table’ Sunday Suppers — Rustico restaurant in Ballston (4075 Wilson Blvd) is planning a weekly family-style supper, inspired by Executive Chef Steve Mannino’s Italian-American upbringing. The ‘Family Table’ meals will start this Sunday and continue every Sunday from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Each week will feature a different Italian main course from Mannino’s collection of family recipes. The meal is $20 for adults and $10 for kids, including bruschetta and salad to start and biscotti for dessert.
Few details about the event were revealed ahead of time, but with the announcement featuring remarks by County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman and local lawmaker Del. Patrick Hope, one could reasonably assume that the bulk of the new event was to take place in Arlington, right?
The “Dominion Trail Mix” Labor Day community event will largely take place in Loudoun County, as it turns out. “The Great Skedaddle” — a bike, run, walk event along the W&OD Trail — and “TrailFest” — an outdoor festival featuring pop-country group Gloriana — will both take place at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn.
A third Trail Mix event — the “Hail the Trail” clean-up event — will take place at
eight nine different stations along the trail on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 3. According to the newly-updated Trail Mix web site, the station closest to Arlington will be located at Veterans Common at 507 Little Falls Street in Falls Church. The event will encourage volunteers to pick up trash, perform kiosk maintenance, weed and plant along the trail.
Among those on hand for this morning’s announcement were Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell, Dominion CEO Paul Koonce and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Executive Director Paul Gilbert.
A new annual community event will be launching later this year
in Arlington. Organizers have released a few tantalizing tidbits about the event, but most details will remain a mystery until a formal announcement featuring Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell on Wednesday of next week.
The one-day event is expected take place Labor Day weekend along the W&OD Trail
in Arlington. It will feature “a sports event with a historic twist, a large-scale environmental action activity (biggest in the park’s history) and a festival featuring a national recording artist which we expect will draw several thousand attendees,” said Chris Browne, Vice President of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.
“It is going to be BIG and very relevant to our regional community,” Browne added.
Wednesday’s announcement will feature First Lady McDonnell, County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman and Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Virginia Power, which is sponsoring the event. The announcement is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. at Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester Street).
A crowd that included county board members, school board members, state legislators, elected county officers and Democratic donors gathered outside the Lyon Park Community Center for the end-of-summer tradition, which also featured drinks, music and a moon bounce for the kids.
Guests of honor included the three local Democrats up for reelection this year: county board member Chris Zimmerman, school board member Sally Baird and congressman Jim Moran. Virginia House of Delegates minority leader Ward Armstrong was also on hand for the afternoon event.
The cook-off was largely an upbeat affair for the well-entrenched local party, though the gloomy national outlook for Democrats was on the minds of many.
“If the election was held next Tuesday, we would lose the majority in the House and the Senate,” Moran told the crowd, citing polling data.
“This is really an exciting time to be a Democrat,” Zimmerman said during his brief remarks. “There is so much at stake across the entire country.”
Later, Zimmerman — who’s facing both a Republican and a Green Party opponent in November — said he isn’t taking anything for granted. Already, he has started knocking on doors, attending public events and holding fundraisers.
“Realistically, we have to work for this one,” he said, noting that there is no U.S. Senate or presidential race to mobilize Arlington’s Democratic base this year.
In his speech to the gathered Democratic faithful, Moran let on a bit about how he plans to run against his Republican opponent, Patrick Murray.
After voicing strong support for President Obama’s agenda, the ten-term congressman blasted Murray’s conservative stance on social issues.
Moran said Murray is on the wrong side of the “civil rights issues” of abortion, gay marriage and the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
Moran, Zimmerman and Baird and their respective opponents are all expected to participate in a debate sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation tonight. The debate will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Hospital Center Hazel Conference Center (1701 N George Mason Drive).
More photos from the cook-off and a list of winners of the various chili categories, after the jump.