Obama Speaks of Peace in Arlington Speech– In his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spoke of a “milestone” reached in the past year with the end of the Iraq war. “After a decade under a dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.” Mr. Obama also spoke of protecting veterans’ benefits. [Los Angeles Times, Associated Press]
Arlington Church Hosts Rolling Thunder Riders — The Arlington Assembly of God church, located just off Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, hosted 300-400 Rolling Thunder riders over the weekend. The motorcyclists made camp outside the church or slept in the church itself. [Arlington Mercury]
Artisphere Gets First Artist-in-Residence — Local artist Beth Baldwin has been selected to be Artisphere’s (1101 Wilson Blvd) first artist-in-residence. Baldwin’s residency will stretch between now and November 11. Her 500 square foot studio will be located off of Artishpere’s main entrance lobby. “Baldwin will collaborate with Artisphere to create programming that involves her work and allows for visitors to learn more about her artistry, including ‘Plushie Design’ classes for all ages,” Artisphere said in a press release.
Residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the roar of motorcycle engines tomorrow, May 25, as the bikers head to hotels in Crystal City — including the rally’s official hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway — and to a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
On Sunday, Rolling Thunder will rumble over to the Pentagon parking lot at 6:45 a.m. for an event that will be followed by a convoy into D.C. at noon. In order to safely accommodate the rally, Arlington County Police will close Washington Boulevard from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., according to a press release. During that time, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
“Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend,” the police department advised. In the past, Rolling Thunder has drawn criticism for the amount of noise it generates for those who live along major roadways.
A complete list of Rolling Thunder events is available on the rally’s website.
Heat Advisory Today – The heat and high humidity is not relenting after a scorching Memorial Day. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the D.C region from noon to 8:00 p.m. today. Temperatures are expected to reach the low-to-mid 90s, while the heat index soars to as high as 105. [Weather Channel]
Palin Does Rolling Thunder — Sarah Palin
invited herself to attended the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle gathering at the Pentagon over the weekend, causing a media feeding frenzy and a few hard feelings. Some organizers and attendees grumbled that the one-time Republican vice presidential candidate’s appearance created a political distraction from Rolling Thunder’s mission to raise awareness of American prisoners of war and missing service members. Palin was accompanied by husband Todd and daughters Bristol and Piper. [CBS News, Washington Post]
Missing D.C. Man Found Safe – Matthew Hill, a youth minister at George Washington University who went missing last Tuesday, has been found safe near his family’s home in North Carolina. D.C. police told a newspaper that he had traveled there — without contacting family or friends — for “personal reasons.” An extensive volunteer-led search and social media outreach campaign was launched by Hill’s friends following his disappearance. (His last known location was an Arlington gas station.) The concern for Hill’s well-being even extended into the sports world. Boston Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, a close friend of Hill, was said to be continuously checking his cell phone for updates in the team’s clubhouse. [Charlotte Observer, Boston Globe]
County Lawyer Gets NYT Wedding Write-Up — Congratulations to Arlington County Attorney’s Office lawyer Brian Charville and congressional staffer Bridget Fallon. Not only did the couple get married on Saturday, but their wedding received a coveted New York Times write-up. [New York Times]
Local Opera Company to Shut Down — After 50 years in existence, the Arlington-based Aurora Opera Theatre will be ceasing operations on July 1 due to financial difficulties. Aurora is currently the oldest operating opera company in Virgina. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Westbound I-66 is slow from Rosslyn to Falls Church. Meanwhile, northbound I-395 is jammed from Glebe Road to the 14th Street Bridge.
In addition to heavy traffic, we’ve also spotted packs of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists heading into town for the annual Memorial Day weekend gathering.
The noisy annual Memorial Day weekend tradition will kick off on Friday, when motorcyclists from around the country will start flocking to the D.C. area to boost awareness of American prisoners of war and service members who went missing in action.
The Rolling Thunder headquarters hotel is the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, so South Arlington residents who live near Route 1, Route 110 and I-395 should expect to hear a lot of revving engines over the weekend.
As part of the rally, several roads will be closed near the Pentagon on Sunday. Washington Boulevard will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from the southbound GW Parkway or northbound Route 110.
Authorities are warning drivers in Northern Virginia to expect “large numbers of motorcyclists” and possible traffic delays on Sunday. The Rolling Thunder festivities will wrap up Sunday evening.
It’s hard to criticize a group that travels long distances to gather in support of our troops. It’s even harder when that same patriotic group is helping the local economy by staying at local hotels and dining at the local Chili’s.
But ask just about any Arlington resident who lives within earshot of Route 1, I-395 or I-66 what they think of Rolling Thunder, and they’ll probably have some uncharitable things to say about the “Thunder” part of the Memorial Day weekend tradition.
In fact, the gadfly blogger over at Arlington Yupette may have hit a nerve with this post about how the noise seems to be getting worse every year.
“These guys kept my family awake the past 3 nights,” wrote one commenter.
“It’s a yearly contest to see who can ride the loudest motorcycle with the most obese woman on the back,” said another member of the complaint chorus.
Not everyone seems to agree with the criticism, however. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, who previously welcomed the Rolling Thunder crowd to town on his editor’s blog, mused that “it must be the complainer’s equivalent of a slow news week.”
Thousands of motorcyclists have flocked to the area for the annual Rolling Thunder “Ride For Freedom.” In addition to raising awareness to POW/MIA concerns, the bikers are also here to have some fun.
The epicenter for post-ride fun seems to be Crystal City’s Hyatt and Hilton hotels. Between blocking off part of the street to facilitate an impromptu Electric Slide line dance, chugging koozie-concealed beers and grabbing a bite to eat at the Chili’s outdoor patio, it’s like a big block party for those with Harleys and leather vests.