Your Favorite Local Famous Person Spotting Stories

by ARLnow.com October 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm 6,938 125 Comments

On Thursday afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama spent 30-40 minutes shopping at the Potomac Yard Target. Instantly, the shopping trip became national news.

“Never has a Target dash caused such a ruckus,” wrote Politico’s Julie Mason.

While the First Lady shopping at Target during a recession is the sort of thing that makes headlines, there are plenty of non-headline-making errands run by top U.S. officials, lawmakers and media personalities every day. And thanks to our prime location just across the river from the Nation’s Capital, many of those shopping trips and restaurant visits are taking place right here in Arlington.

In the comments section, share your favorite story of spotting a famous so-and-so out and about in your neighborhood.

  • LP

    Arne Duncan was at Clarendon Day (in a black Adidas track suit) with his son just milling around.

    • FW

      Was there a dunk tank with teachers union members?

    • Bard

      I played basketball with him a few times at the TJ rec center (and shut him down — booyah). He’s quiet and polite and a very good ballplayer for a man of his age.

    • Me, Myself, & I

      Remy was at Clarendon Day last year.

  • TryTheTacos

    There’s always good spotting at DCA! While I worked there a long time ago I saw:

    Willard Scott
    Alan Greenspan
    Jesse Jackson (who was being given the extra screening pat down)

    I literally ran into James Carville and oddly enough didn’t instantly recognize him as he asked me where his gate was located.

    And yesterday Senator (and former Astronaut) Bill Nelson shared the same row as my wife and I flying in from Orlando.

    • Doodler

      Did he hog the armrest?

    • Yup

      Ran into Snoop Dogg and Sherman Hensley there also. Working there is fun too when they have a layover and just walk around making small talk. 🙂

  • Doodler

    Ran into Scott Pelley a few years ago at DCA, while he was still on what was then 60 Minutes II. Talked to him a few minutes; he was nice. Saw Alex Ovetchkin eating at Vapiano in Ballston on a Saturday AM but didn’t bother him.

  • Rosslynite

    I sat next to and chatted with Sandra Bullock’s father at a local bar once. He went on and on about his “Sandy.” He was actually a pretty nice guy.

    • Monroe

      Jim J Bullock is not Sandy’s father.

      Was on a pay phone next to Ted Koppel at DCA once.

      Rode in an elevator with Bob Vila.

  • Undecimo

    Cate Blanchett was at Le Pain Quotidien in Clarendon on a Saturday morning about a month ago, during her last Kennedy Center run.

  • I ran into Michelle Obama at a KMart in Chicago. She was buying paper towels, toothpaste, and Skittles.

  • MC 703

    Saw Danny Espinosa at Spider Kelly’s one night after a home-win.

    Really friendly guy. I wouldn’t have had the stones to go strike up convo with him if I hadn’t been drinking.

    • LP

      So you were hitting on him?

    • MC 703

      I just wanted to rub his beard

  • chris

    Alex Ovetchkin at Citibank in Ballston

    • NrNy2ArlVa

      You may not know exactly what’s in his wallet, but you know where he gets it from.

    • bred

      Where is the CitiBank in Ballston?. A week or so ago a couple in a car asked me and I had NO idea.

      • NrNy2ArlVa

        On Glebe Rd next to the Melting Pot

  • ASM

    Saw Chuck Todd at Trader Joe’s…also David Alxerod at Metro Center.

    • Ben

      Haha I saw him once at Hunan #1 during happy hour on Thursday a year or two ago. Full suit and everything – looked like he just got off the set.

      That was hilarious.

  • R.Griffon

    I saw Remy at Southside Smoothies not too long ago. Does that count? I’m thinking probably not… *sigh*

    • Maria

      We actually saw him filming the Arlington Rap outside the Ballston Mall. It looked completely ridiculous at the time.

    • Tre

      Counts in my book

    • Me, Myself, & I

      Remy was at Clarendon Day last year!

  • CourtHound

    I recently passed by former congressman Max Cleland rolling by Starbucks across from Whole Foods.

    Whole Foods:
    Janet Reno (I literally ran into her)
    Former Senator Norm Coleman

    When Joseph’s was open I used to play Golden Tee with Mary Cheney. We put aside our political differences and agreed that Golden Tee was badass.

    We used to live in the same building with Javaris Crittenton. Super nice guy.

    At DCA:
    Former Senator/Law & Order star Fred Thompson.
    Shared a flight with Erskine Bowles

    Not Arlington but Kevin Spacey was in line ahead of me at Starbucks at 15th & Eye. I didn’t recognize him until he spoke. Very nice person.

    • V Dizzle

      You know Crittenton is in jail on murder charges now, right? Didn’t expect that one, but may want to reevaluate “nice”..if he’s found guilty of course. 🙂

      • CourtHound

        He never tried to murder us, as far as I know. 😛

        I saw that he is in jail. It’s like everybody says, “he was such a nice person.” Emphasis on “was”.

      • Maria

        Being a “nice” person doesn’t necessarily mean being a “good” person.

    • Lois

      Former Senator Cleland works in the Courthouse area as chairman of the national war memorial association. If you ever see him, say hello. You will be greeted by the most gregarious pol you’ve every met. Great guy.

  • yrb

    John Carlson at Circa Clarendon

  • Lou

    Sold some books to Joan Baez when I worked at the Crown at Willston back in college. I was checking the credit card signature/name and noticed her name. I kind of sheepishly looked up to check her face and she gave me a wry smile. I just smiled back and ran her card, sent her on her way. Lynn Nofziger used to frequent that store as well.

    Also worked two summers at Washington Golf Center. Sold stuff to Bob Schiefer and David Robinson right after he got out of Annapolis.

    • Dan

      “Sold some books to Joan Baez when I worked at the Crown at Willston ”

      I still miss that store….sigh.

  • NrNy2ArlVa

    I saw Alex Ovechkin in a car on Glebe Rd, but I got in front of him and when light turned red I jumped out and got an autograph.

  • Mr. Brown

    I nearly crushed Tom Wolfe at DCA. He moves fast, but I move faster, I and I have him by about 80 pounds. If I hadn’t realized who he is, he could have just been a seersucker smear on the floor…

  • TheloniousB

    I was in the checkout line at the Cherrydale Safeway.
    “Do you have your club card?” asked the cashier.
    I fished around in my wallet, but I couldn’t find it.
    The guy behind me said, “Here, you can use mine.”
    I turned around to see John Ashcroft.
    Wish I had been buying a bunch of alcohol and porn.

    • charlie

      or extra large condoms.
      very funny.

    • Lou

      David Broder shopped there as well, he lived nearby. Saw him a couple times late at night on the way home.

  • TheloniousB

    Also, Pedro Martinez in the security line at National Airport. I didn’t know Louis Vuitton made luggage until that day.

  • Phillip

    I see Erick Schulz (famous skier and ex member of “The Derelicts”) in Arlington somewhat frequently. He must live around here cause I see him in Faccia Luna every now and then. He still looks good for his age and I wonder how much he still skis….He used to be sponsored by Stockli and Volkl…Great guy!

    • Anne

      Ohhhh, I think I know who you are talking about. I see him every now and then down in South Arlington. Seems like a pretty cool dude. He is pretty good looking too.

      • eggman

        I remember that guy. I saw his band at the 9:30 club once and he was cool enough to get into a conversation with me about skis and guitars….He is also an avid Audi club member. There was an article about him in Powder magazine highlighting the fact that he liked to drive turbocharged Audis to ski areas instead of the standard SUV…He kinda reminds me of a younger version of Barry Weiss.

  • JB

    Saw James Baker (Pres. HW Bush’s SecState) at DCA…

    Rode on the same flight out of DCA.as Sam Donaldson…we both rushed to get onto an earlier flight…during which he cut in front of me in line to get his ticket at the gate desk…haha…

    ….And in case you’re wondering, Sam’s toupee (sp?) is even more impressive in person…

    • DarkHeart

      Rode a plane with him from ORD to DCA and he was kind enough to take a picture with my son.

  • SomeGuy

    Does it matter than Michelle’s trip to target was allegedly staged?

    I’m not opining one way or the other. Just informing.

    • Josh S

      Uh, of course it was. The first lady doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide she needs to hit up the local Target for a few things.

      • SomeGuy

        “…the White House tipped off AP photographer Charles Dharapak so that he would be at the store to memorialize the moment.”

        Right, Josh. From the tone of your comment, I guess you already knew perfectly well who was involved and how that went down.

  • SoccerGuy

    I used to see Mike Pence at his daughter’s soccer games. I occassionly see Congressman Adlerholt at his kids games.

  • SimplyDusty

    Saw Kelly O’Donnell from NBC scaling the yogurt shelves at Harris Teeter in Ballston a year or so ago. She is much shorter than she appears on TV. And apparently really likes yogurt.

  • PL25rd

    Even though I’ve lived in Arlington for 10 years, all of my sightings have been in DC proper –

    Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones at Vidalia back in ’06 or so when he was filming a movie in D.C. Sat at the table next to them and could hear them talking.

    Condoleeza Rice at the Kennedy Center & at the movies in Georgetown.

    Oh! Sen. Larry Craig at DCA. I think that’s it.

    • R

      Larry Craig? Did you see him in the men’s room of DCA…or maybe just his tapping shoe? Sorry, couldn’t resist…way too easy.

      • PL25rd

        LOL, no (I’m a woman, he wouldn’t have been interested). Saw him waiting for a flight, I think it was to Minneapolis. They all start to run together after a while.

    • drax

      “I saw Larry Craig at the airport” is probably code for something these days.

  • Guy

    Ate besides Sen. Eric Cantor and some pages/aides one evening at the Chipotle in Crystal City a couple months ago.

    • Lou

      Representative Cantor

      • Phillip

        Hero of the stupid Eric Cantor

  • G20

    I’ve seen Alex Ovetchkin at Dulles Airport a couple times. Didn’t want to bother him, so I just said hello. He basically was unrecognized both times.
    Also have seen Charles Mann (former Redskin) at a Starbucks in Chantilly a couple times.

    • Yup

      Charles Mann is incredibly sweet. I saw him at the Chesterbrook starbucks off Old Dom. guess he likes his coffee… but he not only smiled and was polite when I said good morning, Mr. Mann he actually chuckled and said “thanks for recognizing me” which I thought was kind of sweet. I’m only 25, so it’s likely I surprised him with my age knowing who he was… I can’t imagine he doesn’t get recognized by others in the area.

  • DarkHeart

    Willie Mays in cowboy boots at DCA about 5 years ago.
    In order line next to Sandra Bullock at Italian Store about 12 years ago (IIRC it was around the time her mother passed).

  • SUe

    George Stephanopoulous used to workout at my gym in Gtown.

    Rumsfeld–saw him walking down O street.

    My friend recently ran into ‘Snooki’ in Vegas!! SHE WINS!

  • charlie

    i see myself every morning. that’s enuf.

  • JohnB

    Caps and Nats players are always out in Clarendon; SK, Liberty Tavern, even seen some at Arlington Rooftop.

    • Yup

      They’ve gone there a couple after later games and get the private room upstairs often with players of whatever team they’ve just lost to… er I mean, played. I’ve seen ’em hanging around, but they’ve been told they won’t be bothered up there so they don’t let anyone sneak by.

      • MC 703

        Nats finished one game under .500. Had a great finish to their season. Gonna be a contender for NL WC next year.

  • JamesE

    I constantly see Caps losing playoff games in spectacular fashion.

    • Kim C.


  • North Cherrydaler

    Joe Lieberman and William Cohen at National.

    Bill Clinton and family at the Golden Palace Chinese restaurant for dim sum–the restaurant’s last day in business.

    George and Laura Bush on the stairs at Cactus Cantina–actually brushed by Bush on the narrow staircase. (I call it my Brush with Mediocrity!) (Please don’t flame me….)

  • E H

    Wolf Blitzer at DCA last night

  • WestoverAndOver

    I ran into Ovie once (literally) at the Ballston Harris Teeter a couple of years ago – it was the day after a particularly bad playoff loss, and he seemed pretty salty, so we didn’t bother him. He was buying a tank of propane. Also coached Mike Knuble’s kid at Kettler spring league a few years back – very nice family. My favorite, though, has to be Ryan Zimmerman at Liberty Tavern on a Friday evening in about 2008: he walked in with two of his buddies and just kind of paused at the entrance, seemingly expecting everyone to stop what they were doing and notice him. When nobody did, his little group took a lap around the bar – still nothing. They left a few minutes later without even buying a drink, noticably disappointed. It was pretty funny.

    • SB

      Mike Knuble and his family ARE super nice. I met them at Kettler last year when they were there for a birthday party with his kid (I assume that’s what it was, versus an appearance, as he was in sweatpants). But he’s definitely a class act guy.

  • Arlington Blue

    A couple of years ago saw Kid Rock at Whole Foods.

  • Darth Vader

    Saw myself in Arlington last week.

  • FW

    I saw Chewbacca at the Arlington County Public Library.

  • Kim C.

    Anyone remember Harriet Miers?:


    Saw her shopping at the Pentagon row Harris Teeter back when she was under consideration as a Supreme Court Justice nominee.

  • JB

    Oh yeah…forgot that I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger (back when he was the Governator of Kahlifawhniyah) walking down M St. in Georgetown around Thanksgiving a few years ago…he’s let himself go since Terminator 2…and also is only about 5ft. 5in. tall…

    • Funny

      I remember my dad mentioning that he had passed him there also! He said folks weren’t bothering him so when he walked by he just said “good afternoon, governor” to be sure it was him and in his thick accent he said “good afternoon”. Success! Haha

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Good thing Target buys their fashions from good US companies who produce their clothing in shops full of union workers… oh wait.

    • DarkHeart

      If only Wal-Mart could build a giant store in the old WGC location.

      • Novanglus

        WGC? I tried to google it but only found “World Gas Conference” — another name for the ArlNow comments area?

        Anyway, Target’s well ahead of Wal-Mart in terms of buying from “good US companies who produce their clothing in shops full of union workers”

        • Glebe Roader

          Washington Golf Center.

  • Hattie McDaniel

    Sandra Day O’Connor at the Lyon Village Giant.
    Paul Wolfowitz walking through Farragut Square.

  • yrb

    Saw Chertoff in the office building where I worked, in DC
    Probably doing his peddling body scanners business

  • Maria

    Ryan Zimmerman in the produce section at Harris Teeter. The older gentleman working there asked my friend and me if it was “Brian Zimmer” from the Nats. We had no idea, so he just starts shouting, “Brian! Brian Zimmer!” across the store. He nicely smiled and waved. We had to Google him when we got home to see if it was really him. It was.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    – CNN Anchor John King sitting behind me at Nats Park
    – I almost ran over Don Rumsfeld in the Pentagon one day (there would have been nothing left…)
    – Janet Reno almost running me over in the gift shop at the Natural History Museum (there would have been nothing left of me…)
    – Newt Gingrinch wolfing beers at Cap City Brewery.
    – Bob Barr and Jim Lehrer smoking cigars at Shelly’s

  • Autoexec.bat

    Ben Stein at The Willard
    David Gregory at DCA
    Adrian Fenty at DCA
    Tom Daschle near MLK Library
    Fred Upton walks his dog near my neighborhood
    Ashcroft used to go to my church

    • Autoexec.bat

      Oh yeah and Dave Grohl at the Potbelly at Metro Center.

  • Steve S

    I was dropping my dry cleaning off once awhile back at the Pentagon Row dry cleaners (next to Rite-Aid and World Market) and was confused by all the black SUVs and protective service folks milling about. Turns out Robert Gates was in front of me in line. Picking up his own stuff – who would have thought?

  • Dave

    Saw Senator McCain a couple of weeks ago at the new Potomac Yards Harris Teeter. On line right in front of me. Almost didn’t recognize him with his ball cap on.

    Sat next to Dick Durbin on a flight back from Chicago a couple of years ago. Was on the same flight as Stedman on a separate trip to Chicago as well.

  • Lou

    We used to hang out at a place called Paul Mall in Georgetown, a few Redskins were semi-regulars there on the weekends. Donnie Warren, Mel Kaufman, Monte Coleman. Just kind of being regular guys in their Member’s Only jackets. Well, maybe Warren had an old plaid hunting coat on.

    Working in Georgetown a decade later, I’d see George Will almost 2 or 3 times a month around lunch hour. Freddie “Beetle” Barnes as well.

  • MyHood

    Bill and Chelsea Clinton at the Georgetown mall Christmas Eve 2005. (Supposedly buying a gift for Hillary).

    James Carvell and Mary Matlin at the Crystal City Ruth’s Chris.

    Russ Feingold on a plane from DCA to MKE. I reminded him that he nearly killed me with a really bad drive in 1992 at the Wisconsin State Senate’s “Low Income Open” (which was the Democrat’s golf tournament at a public course in response to the Republican fancy-schmancy tournament/fundraiser). He was graciously mortified at nearly beaning a former constituent.

    Oh yeah and Speaker Boehner the day he became speaker at Guapo’s in Shirlington. You cannot miss the tan.

    I am sure that I have seen “real” celebrities around here but for the life of me I cannot think of any right now.

    • Autoexec.bat

      I met Boehner my first day as an Intern leaving Longworth just after 5pm. He asked me where I was from and what office I worked in. I then asked him where he was from and who he worked for. He played it off very humbly.

      • Melanoma

        I hoped he replied that he worked for the people of his district.

        • Juanita de Talmas

          Ha! “Wall Street” would have been a more accurate answer.

  • achow

    Ran into the Capitals coach in the foodcourt of Ballston Mall one day after they were done with practice. Saw Joe Theisman at his restaurant in Old Town years ago – he was asking to get his parking validated.

    My favorite was I standing behind Kobe Bryant in McDonalds in San Antonio (the lakers had played the spurs the night before) – he sneezed and I said “bless you” – he turned and thanked me. All the people around me rushed to get napkins for autographs.

  • Arl Heights

    Saw Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the TSA line at DCA in June. He was looking around for UFOs.

  • Michelle

    Has anyone see anyone relevant?

    • ballscrossingurface

      I saw your mom last night

  • leo

    I’ve seen Jim Moran several times in Shirlington. And, I almost ran into James Carville at the CVS in Old Town Alexandria once.

  • Tania Odabashian

    Saw Larry King at the Palm downtown about a year ago. Saw Mayor Williams at the Pete’s New Haven Pizza in Clarendon about two weeks ago donning a Nats cap.

    • MyHood

      Was it on a Monday so he could get the half price pizza?

  • Ballstonresident

    Saw Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson and their adorable children at the Target at Willston in Falls Church. And John King and Dana Bash at Pentagon City COSTCO. They were buying a lot of paper products–both are really short in person.

  • Wilbur

    Never understood the cult-of-pop-stars. Serious, who cares.

  • steve85

    I saw Demaurice Smith of the NFL Players Association on 14th Street on the day we had the earthquake. He actually spoke to me b4 I spoke to him. Cool dude. I thanked him for bringing football back to us

  • Tania Odabashian

    Saw Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen in front of the Jefferson Memorial the summer before West Wing premiered filming a scene.

  • ARLrez

    John King from CNN at Four Courts in Courthouse on Saturday night.

  • Just the Facts

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (+1 security dude) at the new Dunkin Donuts in Pentagon City very early in the morning about 4-5 months ago.

  • nota gain

    Most of DC shoppes at the Shoppers Warehouse, Target and the other stores in the Potomac Yards mall, if that is the mall in which Michelle shopped.
    If not, lots of DCers shop in VA . Prices are better and too, the stores, in most cases, are not in DC. Guess that says something for the DC economy.

  • Marc

    Rep. Billy Tauzin and another Rep. from LA at steak house (can’t remember which one) once.

    I see Patch Adams all the time at the Harrison-Lee Safeway.

  • When we bought a house on Buchanan Street near Lee Highway in the mid-1970s, we used to frequent Bills Hardware on the corner. One day in the store, I ran into Chief Justice (at the time) Warren Burger, and had a brief, friendly chat. For the young ‘uns and non-lawyers here, here’s more about him http://www.oyez.org/justices/warren_e_burger

  • Arlingtoon

    When I used to live in Ashton Heights I’d take my shirts and dry cleaning to Hurts Cleaners. Adrian Cronauer was a regular there (and I think probably lived nearby) — for those who don’t know him he was the real-life inspiration for Robin Williams in “Good Morning Vietnam.”

  • Clarendon

    Thought I saw Kirsten Dunst having a drink outside at American Tap room, but then I saw the same girl another day in Clarendon and it turns out she only looks like Kirsten Dunst (which is almost better in some ways 🙂

  • rossl

    just have to say, i love reading all these comments. this should be a monthly thing.

  • Temy

    I have a drink now and then with Plutarco El Chingon De Las carretas

  • HenryES

    My best local sighting was Condoleezza Rice shopping for a TV at the Circuit City at Bailey’s Crossroads. She had her security detail with her, which required two black Suburbans to transport. I guess she hadn’t heard of Amazon.

  • Tittle

    I saw Jose Walter Tejada across the street from the Weenie Beenie once. I didn’t hire him.

  • Elle Kasey

    I saw Steadmond and made an ass out of myself, “Say ‘hi’ to Oprah for me.” (I was young.) Lunched next to Madeleine Albright at Sequoia when cell phones were still novel. Lunched by Helen Thomas at Mon Ami Gabi just before the meltdown. Saw Anthony Bourdain & Mario Batali in security at DCA. Other times at DCA Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson. flew home from Vegas on TDay in seat behind Mya. Dinner at forgotten Italian place across from Tim & Luke Russert in Bethesda. Bob Schieffer at The Monocle (1996). At Ballston Harris Teeter Kelly O’Donnell before one of the big storms, 2010. Oh, and my husband is from Lynchburg so this is not local, but when we were visiting we went to greasy spoon, Famous Anthony’s and sat in booth next to large Jerry Falwell posse. He chowed down on chili dogs, was constantly interrupted for pix and autographs. Most attention of any “celeb” I’d seen.

  • Dia

    ARLNow seems to imply that the Target in Potomac Yards is in Arlington. Potomac Yard is in Alexandria. So, when ARLNow says, “many of those shopping trips and restaurant visits are taking place right here in Arlington.” It should also read “and Alexandria.”

  • Lotus

    John Cena at DCA, he is freakishly large and wasn’t too friendly to the kids wanting a pic with him.

  • FairlingtonD

    Jayson Werth and Chase Utley at Crystal City Sports Pub the night before the Phils and Nats were going to play. On his way out, Werth took photos with anyone who wanted one and signed a little kid’s t-shirt.

  • Lurker

    Tim Russert at Atomic Billiards years ago. He and his wife were going to a movie at the Uptown. Really down-to-earth and charming fellow who bought me a beer. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. May he rest in peace.

  • The Gov…

    Was in Whitloe’s circa 1999 for brunch on Sat morning with some friends/family and Dave Matthews was eating by the big window on the right when you walk in the main door. When he walked to the bathroom I went in behind him, we urinated beside each other, was gonna ask him for a “high-5” but couldn’t bring myself to do it…

  • dk

    Not in Arlington, but:

    Back when he was world famous & instantly recognizable, Carl Lewis at the IKEA in Woodbridge.

    Alan Simpson almost ran me and hubby off the Rock Creek Parkway one rainy night.

    Bill & Chelsea Clinton at the GWU-UMass men’s basketball game back in 1995, when UMass was ranked #1 (and GW beat them!).

    Much more recently, Hillary Clinton at Union Station.

    Sam Donaldson and Eleanor Clift in the waiting room of my doc’s office. (Not at the same time.)

  • spookiness

    I’m old:
    Jesse Helms, Giant in South Arlington
    Brian Lamb, C-span, same store
    Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole both yielded to me on my bike back before the GW trail overpass was built.
    Charlie Rose, plane to NYC
    Bill and Hillary Clinton, Church
    Former Sen & Pres Candidate Geo. McGovern, Church
    Colin Powell, a watch store in Tyson’s Corner Center
    Newt Gingrich in CVS off Dupont Circle
    An unnamed conservative commenter and occasional CNN talking head, my bedroom. Several times.

    • dk

      Awesome. 😀


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