AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast — About 1.1 million Washington area residents will travel 50 more more miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s up 3.1 percent over 2013. About 90 percent of those travelers will journey to grandma’s house via automobile, AAA says. The lowest gas prices since Dec. 2010 are helping to drive some additional travel this year. [Reston Now]
What’s Next for the Pike? — Now that the streetcar is dead, articulated buses may be next for Columbia Pike. But that would require reinforcing the roadway and building a new bus depot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Beyer Joins ‘New Democrat Coalition’ — Arlington’s newly-elected representative in Congress, Don Beyer, has joined the House New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-growth Democrats. [Blue Virginia]
Moran Laments Loss of Earmarks — Outgoing Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says earmarks, while demonized by the media and some politicians, actually helped the legislative process. The loss of earmarks has slowed Congress to a crawl, Moran said. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Wizards Practice Facility in Arlington? — There’s a potential plan for a Washington Wizards basketball practice facility in Arlington, reports NBC4′s Mark Segraves. However, the more likely plan for the practice facility is for it to be built in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis also owns the Washington Capitals, which has a practice facility at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Warns of ‘Potential Severe Traffic’ — Arlington County is warning residents about “potential severe traffic” today due to the massive crowds expected for the Concert for Valor on the National Mall, along with Metrorail service changes and numerous road closures in D.C. that are in place for the Veterans Day event.
Cherrydale Abuzz Over Sound Check — The Cherrydale community email listserv was “going crazy with complaints about the sound check” for the Concert for Valor last night, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. We’re told the neighborhood could hear bass and feel vibrations from the sound check. “One person reported that the Arlington County police were getting so many calls they were telling people to call the D.C. police who then told people to call [U.S.] Park Police,” the tipster said.
Cost of Thanksgiving Dips in Va. — Virginia families will save about $5 per person this year on Thanksgiving dinner thanks to lower food prices, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. [InsideNova]
Lyon Park ‘Sewer Justice’ Petition — A group called Arlingtonians for Sewer Justice – which represents 11 Lyon Park households that are being compelled to pay $10,000-20,000 for a new sewer connection because the county says it will no longer maintain a failing, private sewer line behind their homes — has created a new petition. The petition, which has so far gathered 95 supporters, calls for Arlington County to pay for the upkeep of privately owned sewer lines via a bond referendum. [Change.org]
Flickr pool photo by Ian Livingston
The annual drive will provide Thanksgiving meals to a growing number of families that are relying on AFAC to supplement their food purchases. This year, AFAC is seeing record demand for its services and spent beyond its allocated food budget to provide food to all its clients.
In June, AFAC Executive Director Charles Meng told ARLnow.com that AFAC was serving 40 percent more families than the year before, a surge he attributed to cuts from federal food stamp programs. This year, AFAC has purchased 2,200 turkeys to give out next week.
Guas and Moran will kick off the giving at about 10:15 a.m. next Monday, according to AFAC spokeswoman Claire McIntyre. AFAC will be conducting turkey drives from 10:00 a.m. to noon from Monday through Friday, Nov. 21, to provide the centerpiece of Thanksgiving meals for its clients.
This year, for the first time, Bayou Bakery, at 1515 N. Courthouse Road, will be donating a pie to AFAC for every dozen it sells. The Louisiana-themed bakery and restaurant is offering sweet potato, pecan, bourbon chocolate chip, Virginia peanut, apple crumble and bacon cayenne pies.
“This is the first year we’ve partnered with [Guas] for that,” McIntyre said. “Because the pie purchasing happens during the holiday season, he can’t bring all the pies at once to us. We still wanted him to be a part of the day. It was really exciting that we got to pair him and Congressman Moran together to hand out the turkeys.”
Yes, another Black Friday is here, complete with the massive pile of circulars in the newspaper and the requisite TV news images of shoppers rampaging through big box stores at midnight.
Of course, Black Friday is no longer the only post-Thanksgiving shopping game in town. Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have joined the ranks as industry-created shopping holidays.
The staff at ARLnow.com wishes you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.
We are thankful to have had the opportunity to expand our news coverage this year, with the addition of reporter Ethan Rothstein. We are also looking forward to expanding our business staff, so as to better serve advertising and marketing clients.
What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments.
Today is perhaps the busiest travel day of the year — in the middle of the busiest travel week of the year — travel experts have some advice for travelers to make their journeys home as smooth as possible.
For those flying on Thanksgiving, expect crowded airports and airport parking lots until Monday, Dec. 2, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The peak times for holiday flights is early in the morning, between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m., and late afternoon, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Because of the heavy volume of passengers, MWAA recommends getting to the airport two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. Because planes will be so full, MWAA recommends packing lightly to ensure carry-on luggage fits in on-board compartments and under the seats.
For those leaving the area in their cars, the Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock writes that on the I-95 corridor, traffic will only begin to ease up tonight after 11:00 p.m., and it will start to get heavy again on Thursday at around 9:00 a.m.
Those going south on I-95 should remember that there’s a 29-mile work zone south of Springfield, so drivers can take a 20-mile workaround by taking I-66 West to Route 28 South in Centreville, then to Route 17, which meets up with I-95 around Fredericksburg.
With the holiday season upon us it’s a good idea to take stock. This is a fun time of year for most of us. We get to spend more time with our families and enjoy reconnecting with old friends.
Many of us have time honored holiday traditions: mom’s special stuffing recipe, Christmas cookies and latkes. We take the time to prepare all of our favorite dishes; we enjoy the rituals and it’s important to us that we pass these traditions on to our children.
Something else often happens at this time of year — we lose sight of our health and then we regret that decision (yes, it is a decision!) when January rolls around. With all the added holiday activities, we don’t take the time to exercise and eat mindfully; our health takes a back seat to the season.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not suggesting you become party poopers by avoiding festive food and drinks. I enjoy the traditions just as much as everyone else!
I’m simply suggesting we look at things a bit differently this holiday season. Instead of eating and drinking with reckless abandon — you know what I’m talking about — why not try setting small daily or weekly goals to help us feel better and maintain our good health over the next two months?
Here’s what can happen when we fumble through the season without a plan:
- Skip morning exercise because you’re tired from a late night holiday party
- Feel sluggish because you skipped exercise
- Not thinking about health because you skipped exercise so stop for a bagel and cream cheese (What the heck? You’ve already blown the day, right?)
- Feel tired because you’ve eaten less than a healthy breakfast so grab a candy bar for energy, and the sugar cycle continues
- Go holiday shopping so don’t have time for a proper lunch (what’s the difference at this point?)
- Go home after work and blow off exercise again because now you are feeling really low energy
- Make something quick for dinner instead of taking the time to eat whole foods you’ve prepared
- Vow to do better tomorrow!
Follow these guidelines to avoid the downward spiral:
- Make your exercise plan at the beginning of the week.
- Stick to the plan no matter what!
- Take time to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of each week; keep it simple by combining lean proteins and produce (see ideas below).
- Create a shopping list and purchase whole foods so you’ll have healthful ingredients on hand when you’re tired and out of time.
- Drink at least 50 ounces of water every day. This will keep you hydrated so you don’t confuse hunger with dehydration. This will also help you avoid the dreaded hangover. Yes, dehydration is usually what causes your hangover — that and too much alcohol!
- Plan what you’ll eat while dining out and at parties. Eat healthy snacks before heading out (see list below). Then stick to mostly proteins like shrimp and chicken along with veggies and fruit at parties and restaurants. Go ahead and sample the chips, dips and other party treats—once, then fill up on the stuff that will help you feel better the next day.
- Try your best to get seven hours sleep. Before downing your third—or fourth–beverage, stop and think about how you’re going to feel tomorrow!
- Wake up feeling good in the morning and proud of yourself that you stuck to your plan. Then go exercise!
Follow the 80/20 rule: Make a concerted effort to eat well eighty percent of the time. You’ll be happy you did!
ACFD encourages cooks to stay alert while in the kitchen because the leading cause of cooking fires is leaving equipment unattended. The department also discourages the use of outdoor gas fueled turkey fryers due to fire and burn hazards when hot oil splashes during the cooking process.
The department recommends adhering to the following safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking and turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time. Check on food regularly to make sure it is not burning.
- Use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
- Stay alert. You won’t be alert if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
- Keep all flammable items — such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
- Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
There are also safety tips specifically for using turkey fryers:
- Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
- Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
- Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
- Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
- To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over and cause a fire or even an explosion hazard.
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire grows too large, immediately call the fire department for help.
Follow these tips if a fire does break out:
- When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 after you leave.
- If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
- Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
- In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
- If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
- After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
Schools will be closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. County government offices, courts and libraries will be closed Thursday and Friday, and parking meters will not be enforced.
County pools will be closed Thursday and will operate on a modified schedule Wednesday and Friday. All community centers will be closed Thursday, but the Arlington Mill and Walter Reed centers will be open Friday. The Thomas Jefferson Community Center will be closed throughout the holiday weekend.
ART buses will operate, but on a holiday schedule. Trash and leaf collection will proceed as normal.
More than 1 million D.C. area residents will travel at least 50 miles during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period, AAA Mid-Atlantic projects, but the number of travelers will actually be lower than last year.
AAA says 1,058,000 people will journey out of the Washington area, down from 1,070,5000 last year. A projected 90.7 percent of travelers will get out of town via automobile, while 6.9 percent will take planes. The remainder will take rail and other travel methods.
The D.C. region was home to about 5.9 million residents as of 2012.
From the AAA Mid-Atlantic press release:
All in all, that’s 12,000 fewer persons this time around, but you probably won’t notice any difference on area roads, or at airline ticket counters and bus and train stations in the Washington metro area. Remarkably, the overall volume of local holiday travelers has numbered over one million persons for the three past Thanksgiving holidays, and the same is true this year too, after rebounding from the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009. That’s when Thanksgiving travel fell by a staggering 25 percent.
“Still over one million local residents are in the travel mode and mood this Thanksgiving holiday period, as the number of Thanksgiving travelers tops the one million person mark for the fourth year in a row,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Despite the big drop in gas prices this holiday when compared to last Thanksgiving, local residents have been coping with the lingering impact of the sequestration and they are still reeling from the effects of the federal government shutdown in October, both of which hit the regional labor market really hard, especially government contract workers, at the psychic, pocketbook and deeply personal levels.”
There are numerous opportunities for donating your time to a good cause around Arlington, including serving Thanksgiving meals.
In addition to those listed below, other volunteer opportunities throughout the county can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website.
- Thanksgiving Celebration Hosts — Helpers are needed from 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, for the Clarendon House Thanksgiving celebration. Volunteers will assist with tasks such as decorating, cleaning up and preparing or serving food. Clarendon House is a community-based rehabilitation program for adults diagnosed with serious mental illness. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and must show compassion and caring for, as well as comfort interacting with and learning from, adults with serious mental illness. Volunteers should have a positive attitude, be responsible, use good judgment and maintain strict client confidentiality. For more information or to sign up, contact Susan Stolpe via email or at 703-228-1760.
- Deliver and Serve Thanksgiving Dinners — The Knights of Columbus seeks people to help ensure all members of the community — particularly the needy, elderly and home-alone — can celebrate Thanksgiving with a hot meal. Volunteers are needed on Thursday, November 28, to serve and deliver meals for around 3,000 people. Volunteers should be flexible and willing to help out where needed. Those who volunteer as deliverers should have their own vehicle to transport meals. Contact Mary Jo Galvin by email or by calling 703-532-8498.
- Food Drive Hosts — The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) seeks residents in condo and apartment buildings to host holiday food drives. The volunteers would coordinate with building management to host a food drive in November and/or December to benefit AFAC. Volunteers would be provided with food collection bins and fliers that can be posted around the building. Those interested in helping should contact Danielle Rampton at email@example.com.
Normally around this time of year, readers and watchers of local news are bombarded with warnings about the dangers of turkey fryers. Those dangers still exist — see below — but the Arlington County Fire Department says there’s another Thanksgiving danger that often goes un-publicized: distracted cooking.
“Burnt food or food on the stove calls are more frequent than turkey fryer incidents,” ACFD spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl told ARLnow.com. “Distracted cooking is hazardous.”
Distracted cooking leads to almost daily fire-related calls to houses and apartment buildings in Arlington. Most food-on-the-stove calls just result in lots of smoke or minor fires that are quickly extinguished, but some can lead to full-scale fires.
The department offered the following cooking safety tips for the holidays and beyond.
Don’t be distracted while cooking. Guests and other distractions can take your attention from cooking which could result in a fire or injury. Don’t leave any cooking unattended.
Wear short sleeves or fitted sleeves. Loose fitting sleeves can contact heat sources and catch fire.
Turn pot and pan handles away from the stoves edge to prevent burns and scalds.
If you are going to fry a turkey follow all recommendations by the manufacturer for the fryer. Do not use the fryer on a deck or close to a residence.
Have a “kid free zone” 3 feet around the stove or areas where cooking is being done. Keeping the children away will help prevent burn and scald injuries.
On the inevitable topic of turkey fryers, Karl cautioned against a new indoor turkey fryer that seems safer than the traditional kind, but which is susceptible to the same fire hazards.
Karl said the popular Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer, seen in the video below, can still cause a fire if overfilled with oil.
“We do not believe they are any more or less hazardous than a regular deep fat fryer,” he said. “The same risks still exist frying a turkey indoors or outdoors. We ask people read the manufacturers recommendations and be certain the turkey is completely thawed before frying.”
“We wish everybody a safe Thanksgiving,” Karl added.
Thanksgiving Closures — Most county offices and facilities will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Arlington courts, meanwhile, close at noon today. Community centers will be closed, except for Barcroft and Walter Reed, which will both be open on Friday. ART and Metro will run on a holiday schedule. Trash collection will operate as normal. [Arlington County]
Streets to Close for Turkey Trot 5K — The Lyon Park neighborhood will host its 7th annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving (Thursday) morning. The race, which has sold out, will result in several street closures in the area. [ACPD]
Library Technical Difficulties Update — Arlington Public Library is still struggling to recover from a system crash on Friday. “The catalog/accounts system and research databases will remain unavailable through Wednesday morning at the earliest,” the library said on its web site last night. All items due between Nov. 10 and Nov. 26 are now due Dec. 1. [Arlington Public Library]
County Plans for Bikeshare — Arlington has created a 6-year “Transit Development Plan” for Capital Bikeshare, the first such plan for a bikesharing system in the United States. The county will now submit the plan to Virginia with the hopes that Capital Bikeshare will be eligible for state transit funding. [Mobility Lab]
Pike Taekwondo Studio Celebrates Anniversary — U.S. Taekwondo College, the martial arts studio in the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse building at 932 S. Walter Reed Drive, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Grandmaster Myung Hak Kang, an immigrant from Seoul, South Korea, established the business in 1972. “I didn’t know how popular Taekwondo would be in a foreign country,” he said in an email. “I wanted to share a passion of mine and hoped the fitness and discipline aspect would catch on.”
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
People around the country and here in Arlington have already begun heading to their Thanksgiving destinations. In the D.C. metro area, the number of travelers is expected to be slightly higher than last year.
More than 1 million local residents are anticipated to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, according to AAA. That’s a 1.3 percent increase over last year.
“The consistently solid travel numbers since the 2008 drop, despite high gas prices and a struggling economy, is impressive and reassuring,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The ‘recovery’ rate of the number of holiday travelers has out-paced the economic recovery and, as Thanksgiving is primarily a family holiday, speaks to the importance of family in good times and bad.”
Meade noted that travelers should plan accordingly if driving to areas such as New York or New Jersey, which have been hurting for gasoline due to Superstorm Sandy. She spoke with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and was informed that gas rationing was supposed to end yesterday (Sunday), but might need to be re-evaluated today.
“If gas rationing is going on, if there’s not enough gas for the people who live there, certainly bringing in other people who need gas will only make the situation worse,” Meade said.
AAA predicts air travel in the metro area will decrease by a little more than 1 percent, even though it shows air fare is about 11 percent lower than last year.
According to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Thanksgiving travel rush began on Friday (November 16) and will continue through Monday, November 26. The busiest days are anticipated to be tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, in addition to the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving.
Peak travel times are typically in the early morning from 5:30-8:00 a.m. and late afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m. There could also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, especially during these peak times.
Student Ambassadors and Travelers Aid volunteers will be at Reagan National Airport to offer directions and answer traveler questions. The Student Ambassadors will be wearing distinctive yellow shirts and the Travelers Aid volunteers will be wearing blue blazers.
MWAA offers the following tips for travelers:
- Confirm the status of your flight directly with your airline before coming to the airport. Weather here or in other parts of the country can affect airline schedules across the route network.
- Print out your boarding pass in advance. Some airlines also offer electronic boarding passes.
- Bring government issued photo ID to the airport for all adult passengers.
- Expect full flights and full luggage bins on board.
- Pack wisely – no prohibited items in carry-on luggage; and no valuable items in checked luggage. Label your luggage so your name is plainly visible.
- Reagan National customers can check parking availability on the airport’s website or at 703-417-PARK. Economy tends to fill during holiday periods.
- For travelers not familiar with the airport, a printable one-page information sheets is available in the “Travel Tips” section at the airport website. Travelers can also follow MWAA on Twitter for updated information.
Major crime in Arlington took a bit of a holiday over the long Thanksgiving weekend. One weekend assault and battery incident was somewhat notable, however, for the fact that the victim is a Clarendon bar bouncer.
ASSAULT AND BATTERY-ARREST, 11/27/11, 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. On November 27 at 1:20 am, a man assaulted a bouncer at a bar. A man, 29, of Alexandria, was charged with Assault and Battery and released on a summons to appear in court. Update on 4/15/14 — Charges in this case were dismissed.
As always, all suspects listed in the Arlington County crime report are innocent until proven guilty. The rest of the report, after the jump.