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Morning Notes

Contrails and a jet in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Man Accidentally Shoots Self in Crystal City — “300 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 7:45 p.m. on June 15, police were dispatched to the report of a discharge of a firearm. Upon arrival, it was determined that as the male subject was cleaning his firearm, it discharged resulting in a gunshot wound to his hand… No other injuries or property damage have been reported.” [ACPD]

Home Hunters Keep Housing Hot — “The regional and national real-estate markets may be cooling, but Arlington remains atop the pack in the Washington area when it comes to maintaining home-buyer interest. The county was the highest-scoring among 10 jurisdictions in the latest monthly Bright MLS T3 Home Demand Index.” [Sun Gazette]

More Motorist Mayhem on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “#caughtoncamera: Another 8C crash. This one at 5:50 this morning. It’s pretty much like all the other ones.” [Twitter]

More Permitting Now Online — “Arlington County is launching the third phase of Permit Arlington, its online permitting system, on Tuesday, June 28. Several additional permits and inspections will move into the Permit Arlington system.” [Arlington County]

AFAC Expanding Service — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) is partnering with Homestretch, a nonprofit organization located in Falls Church, to provide free nutritious groceries to recently housed families on the path towards self-sufficiency. The new food distribution center will plan to operate weekly and will be AFAC’s first center serving residents outside of Arlington County.” [AFAC]

Cops Seeking Thief in ‘Space Jam’ Hat — “A man wearing a Bugs Bunny ‘Space Jam’ baseball cap is wanted for grand larceny by the City of Falls Church Police and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions. The man was captured on surveillance video by City of Falls Church businesses in February and June while stealing cash in two restaurants.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Friday — Sunny and humid throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 75. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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ACPD officers at a previous Fill the Cruiser event (Photo via Arlington County Police Department)

The Arlington County Police Department is holding its third annual “Fill the Cruiser” drive later this week.

On Friday (May 20) from 4-6 p.m., police cruisers will be stationed at the Giant store on 2901 S. Glebe Road in Long Branch Creek and at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center on 5335 Langston Blvd to collect non-perishable food items and diapers of all sizes.

Those items will be donated to local nonprofits Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Doorways.

While the cruisers and AFAC will accept most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including some perishable items, the organization is most in need of food that’s low in sodium, fat, and sugar.

Items like:

  • Low sodium canned tomatoes
  • Low sodium canned tuna
  • Low sodium canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter (in plastic jars)
  • Low sugar cereal
  • Cooking oils

The hope is still to collect “a couple thousand pounds of food,’ says AFAC’s Associate Director of Communications Jeremiah Huston, with Arlington residents still very much in need.

When a “Fill the Cruiser” food drive took place earlier in the pandemic in 2020, the number of Arlington families in need of food assistance was record-breakingly high. That year, AFAC was serving upwards of 3,400 families a month.

AFAC is still serving more than 3,000 families every month, 80% of whom rely on free grocery every week, notes Huston.

“We’re not far from the record high numbers we saw in 2020 and we expect the number of families served will continue to rise steadily as it has since the start of the new year,” Huston tells ARLnow. “With the increase in gas and food prices, we have seen many of our families accessing AFAC services more frequently. Those already struggling to pay their bills are the ones hit hardest by inflation and supply chain shortages.”

Huston also said that inflation and high food prices are impacting AFAC’s ability to purchase fresh foods, so donations are needed now as much or more than prior years.

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Morning Notes

The sun shines over Crystal Drive and the Crystal City Water Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Is Getting an Eruv — “Two ritual enclosures that allow Shabbat-observant Jews to carry items beyond their homes are nearing completion in Northern Virginia. Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown is expanding its eruv, or ritual enclosure, into Arlington. Rabbi Hyim Shafner said the completed eruv will enclose Congregation Etz Hayim, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington and Kol Ami: Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community, as well as Arlington National Cemetery and The Pentagon.” [Washington Jewish Week]

County Leaders Reject ‘Defund’ Call — “At the Nov. 13 Arlington County Board meeting, speaker Evangelia Riris called on elected officials to eradicate much or all of the police department and sheriff’s office, rerouting the $119 million in annual funding to other uses. ‘We could put the money into social services that would provide a more meaningful effect onto people’s lives,’ said Riris… Arlington board members and County Manager Mark Schwartz said, in effect, thanks but no thanks.” [Sun Gazette]

Activists Want New Tree Study — “Activists are continuing to press their effort to get the Arlington County government to initiate another study of tree canopy in Arlington, but seem at best to be receiving a lukewarm response. ‘There are surplus funds available” to conduct a new study,’ said Mary Glass of the Arlington Tree Action Group, who wants the county government to move beyond a 2016 study that showed a largely stable canopy of trees in the county.” [Sun Gazette]

HQ2 Honcho Meets Governor-Elect — From Amazon’s Brian Huseman: “As part of the Team Virginia econ development effort, today I met with Governor-elect @GlennYoungkin about his vision for Virginia. He will be a great leader for VA and Amazon looks forward to working with him as we invest & grow across the Commonwealth and in our Arlington #HQ2.” [Twitter]

Fill the Cruiser Tonight — “Our next Fill the Cruiser event is [Wednesday] evening at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center (2425 N. Harrison Street)! Help us brighten the holidays for children in need and Stop by from 5-7 p.m. to donate new, unwrapped toys for kids aged newborn-17.” [Twitter]

Inflation Hits Local Food Bank — “All this week, @AFACfeeds is giving free turkeys to families in need ahead of Thanksgiving. Last year, the nonprofit spent $37,000 on about 2200 turkeys. This year? That same order cost them $47,000.” [Twitter, WJLA]

Road Closures for Weekend 5K — “The 7th Annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5k & Family Fun Day will take place on Saturday, November 20th, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in order to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be mostly sunny and warmer, with a high near 66. Sunrise at 6:53 a.m. and sunset at 4:52 p.m. Tomorrow will start off sunny and warm, with a high near 72, before rain moves in later in the afternoon and evening. Wind gusts as high as 26 mph on Thursday. [Weather.gov]

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It took Maywood resident Stephen Young nearly 19 months, 92 rides, and more than 1,000 miles to bike every street in Arlington. He finally finished the goal Saturday morning in front of family and friends in Cherrydale.

“And I thought it would take six to nine months,” 58-year-old Young tells ARLnow, chuckling.

Of course, challenges arose: a broken finger, confusing street signs, hills, dead ends, and a seemingly endless supply of cul-de-sacs.

“All of the dead ends, all of the cul-de-sacs,” Young says. “And we have lots of cul-de-sacs in Arlington.”

It all began in May 2020, when he was getting a bit restless like many people during the pandemic. Young has always been an avid biker and came up with the idea to bike every street in Arlington as a way to get outside, get exercise, and help others in need.

Originally, the plan was to use the project to fundraise solely for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and help provide food assistance for those struggling. But then the police killing of George Floyd happened and Young shifted gears to also support the Black Swan Academy, a D.C.-based non-profit that empowers Black youth through civic engagement and leadership.

“I actually launched it in honor of Juneteenth and went from there,” he says.

Over the next year and a half, once or twice a week, Young jumped on his bike and hit up Arlington’s street. He made sure that each ride lasted only about an hour.

Young biked short streets, long streets, flat streets, and hilly streets.

“One of the good challenges was the hills. There are actually a lot of hills in Arlington,” he says, mentioning the so-called “Superman Hill” along S. Walter Reed Drive, near Four Mile Run Drive.

He was sometimes joined by family, friends, and, once, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. But Young mostly biked alone. He often posted his exploits on social media, as well as GoPro videos on YouTube of a number of rides (he plans to post all of them in the near future).

All in all, he didn’t have any major problems, besides it just taking longer than he initially thought. For example, Young found that he had to double or, even, triple back often, to hit every street.

“You can’t just get to every block without going around things at least twice,” he notes.

This caused him to bike about 1,000 miles, which is significantly more miles than paved Arlington roadways (of which, there 376 miles of county-maintained roadways, a number that doesn’t include state or federally-maintained roads).

Young only fell once during 19-month odyssey. While turning onto one of Arlington’s many cul-de-sacs, he hit a rock. The crash was very minor, he says. At one point he broke a finger in a non-cycling related incident, which prevented him from riding for several months.

Besides the many hills and cul-de-sacs, another thing he discovered while biking every corner of Arlington is that road signs are sometimes inaccurate.

“One of the most interesting things… is how often the signs that day ‘dead end’ or ‘no outlet’ are wrong,” he said.

He theorizes this is likely to prevent motor vehicles from cutting through the neighborhood to get to a major roadway.

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Morning Notes

A deer and a fox in the rain, near the Arlington-Fairfax border (photo courtesy Marc Roth)

‘Kindness Yard Sale’ in Penrose — “Susan Thompson-Gaines wants to spread kindness. This weekend, she’s doing it through a big yard sale at her house. She says it’s hard to miss the home she shares with her husband, David — it’s the yellow house with purple trim at the corner of South Second and South Fillmore streets in Arlington… what makes this yard sale different is that the proceeds are all spent on acts of kindness.” [WTOP]

Flood Cleanup for Pike Businesses — From WUSA 9’s Matthew Torres: “A dental hygienist sent me this other video of the flash flooding in Columbia Pike in Arlington. Their business had to close today as they clean up the water that seeped through. Other businesses are having to do the same thing.” [Twitter]

More Vaccinations Added to State Stats — “Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has incorporated vaccination data from jurisdictions in Maryland. Virginians who received vaccinations in Maryland that were not reported through the Virginia Immunization Information System are now included in the locality and statewide dashboards. The updated data reflects an increase in COVID-19 vaccine first dose rates of 0.33% Alexandria, 0.46% Arlington, and 0.39% Eastern Shore.” [Virginia Dept. of Health]

AFAC Gets Donation from Library Program –“Representatives of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library (FOAL), together with the Arlington Public Library and Arlington County Department of Technology Services, presented a check for $4,525 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). The donation represents the number of Library readers who successfully completed the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. The Library’s popular Summer Reading program helps children avoid the ‘summer slide.'” [Arlington County]

Fmr. County Board Member Dies — “Jay Edwin Ricks, 88, passed away at home in Arlington, Virginia on July 18, 2021 due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease… In 1967, Jay was elected to the Arlington County Board where he served until 1971. During this time, he was active in transportation issues and Vice Chairman of Metro during the critical phase of planning the Metro system.” [Legacy]

Local Church Adapts to Pandemic — ‘As another wave of the pandemic comes at us, we are different as a congregation,’ said the Rev. Amanda Poppei, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia… Poppei’s congregation began hosting outdoor events in spring 2021, including a handbell parade to ring in Pride Month in June and a Flower Communion in May, which they intentionally designed as a multiplatform event.” [UUWorld]

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Morning Notes

Local Man Awaits Word on Family’s Fate — “An Arlington, Virginia, man is one of many family members waiting for answers on the whereabouts of loved ones after a condo building collapsed in Surfside, Florida. ‘I would say yesterday was just a shock day. Today, a lot of us woke up hoping it was a bad dream,’ Alex Rodriguez told News4… His mom, Elena Blasser, and his grandmother, Elena Chavez were inside.” [NBC 4]

Chase Ends Near 14th Street Bridge — “A person is in custody after leading multiple police departments on a high-speed chase that spanned several county and state lines. It all started in Prince George’s County, Maryland, when a suspected carjacker fled police around 7:30 p.m. Friday… The driver evaded police several times, weaving into the City of Alexandria, until finally being stopped and arrested in Arlington County.” [WTOP, Twitter]

New Faregates at Clarendon Station — “Metro today began public testing at six rail stations of new, modernized faregates that will replace Metro’s aging faregate technology. The new faregates will include enhanced safety features, larger displays, and faster processing… As part of a month-long pilot project, test faregates have been installed at Clarendon, Dunn Loring, Gallery Place, Glenmont, Waterfront and West Falls Church.” [WMATA]

Hot Start to the Week — From the National Weather Service: “With an extended period of hot and humid conditions on Mon-Wed, here are some helpful reminders about car safety when it comes to heat. Also, take a look at the high/low temp forecast across the region. Shower and t’storm chances increase by mid-week.” [Twitter]

Demand for Food Help Falling — “AFAC’s count of participating families, which had spiked 49 percent at the height of the COVID crisis last fall, is down to being nearly on par with pre-COVID levels. One reason: Jobs that had been lost early in the pandemic are now coming back, which is good news all the way around.” [Sun Gazette]

DCA Is Getting Busier — From Reagan National Airport: “The airport is getting busier & so are our parking facilities! Parking Garages A and B/C may be closed at times, open to customers with advanced reservations only. The Economy Lot is open with plenty of availability. Book online to guarantee a spot.” [Twitter]

More Delays on Glebe Near Chain Bridge — From VDOT: “N Glebe Rd between Military Rd and Rt 123 in Arlington will again have alternating traffic in each direction via flagging, and the Glebe/123 signal will again have flagging Mon 6/28 from 9:30AM-3PM for Pimmit Run bridge project work.” [Twitter]

Reminder: Vote in This Week’s Arlies — Voting in the latest weekly edition of the Arlies closes tomorrow at noon. This week’s categories are favorite dog park and veterinarian. [ARLnow]

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In two weeks, Arlington County Police Department will hold its second-ever Fill the Cruiser Food Drive to support the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

The first Fill the Cruiser food drive kicked off last summer in response to the growing number of people struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic. That effort yielded 6,509 pounds of donated food. The next is now planned for Tuesday, May 18.

“We saw firsthand the growing need for food assistance and recognize this need remains high due to the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “Through generous community donations, we can assist the Arlington Food Assistance Center as they continue their mission of feeding our neighbors in need by providing dignified access to nutritious supplemental groceries.” 

Outside of the food drive, officers have also assisted community organizations with bagging and distributing grocery items, Savage said.

AFAC has seen a significant increase in the number of families it serves — a 33% increase in the first few months of the pandemic, according to the organization’s website. Amid the surge in need, however, the nonprofit has reported fewer donations from grocery stores and leaner volunteer ranks.

More on the Fill the Cruiser food drive from ACPD:

The Community Resources Section will be collecting items at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at three locations:

  • Giant Food – 2901 S. Glebe Road
  • Safeway – 3713 Lee Highway
  • Westover Baptist Church – 1125 Patrick Henry Drive

Upon arrival, donors should stay in their car until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot. All donors are expected to observe proper social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering while dropping off donations.

Suggested Items for Donation

AFAC accepts most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including perishable items. AFAC is most in need of the following low sodium, low fat and low sugar items:

  • Low sodium canned tomatoes
  • Low sodium canned tuna
  • Low sodium canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter (in plastic jars)
  • Low sugar cereal

Those wishing to donate, but unable to attend the Fill the Cruiser events should visit AFAC’s website to find a donation drop-off site near them.

Photo via Arlington County Police Department

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Morning Notes

Virtual Learning Day for In-Person Students — “Due to inclement weather, tomorrow, Tue, Feb. 2, Level 1 students receiving in-person learning support will temporarily revert to distance learning, and the return date for Level 2 Career & Technical Education students will be Feb. 3, depending on weather.” [Twitter]

Limited Service for ART Buses — “Tuesday, Feb. 2: Due to ongoing inclement weather, ART will operate *Limited* service on Tuesday, February 2. All routes will operate regular weekday schedules, but delays are possible and some routes will detour. Additional alerts will be sent if conditions should change during the day.” [Arlington Transit]

More Snow Today — “Snow showers of varying intensity could continue at times into Tuesday. Bursts of snow reduce visibility at times and re-coat roads. Temperatures at or below freezing mean untreated surfaces will remain slick. Additional accumulation in the immediate area should range from a coating to a couple inches through Tuesday.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Arlington GOP Pressing for School Openings — “Whether the prime consideration is public policy, pure politics or (most likely) a combination of the two, Arlington Republicans appear to see an opening in forcefully questioning the county school system’s lackadaisical back-to-class efforts. Keeping students out of classrooms for months on end is ‘destroying the lives of our children – it’s just failing them miserably,’ Arlington GOP chairman Andrew Loposser thundered.” [InsideNova]

Food Program Changes Hands —  “This month, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) will transition ownership of its Plot Against Hunger program to the Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA). Since its inception in 2007, over 600,000 pounds of fresh produce has been donated to AFAC through the Plot Against Hunger program.” [Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture]

More Capitol Rioters Who Stayed in Arlington — “Two more Kentucky residents have been charged federally in the U.S. Capitol riot that killed five people… According to the criminal complaint against Crase and Williams, the two drove to Washington with a third person, a witness not named in the complaint, and arrived at their hotel in Arlington, Virginia, just after midnight Jan. 6.” [Louisville Courier Journal]

Red Hot and Blue Pitmaster Dies — “Ernest McKnight, the pitmaster and executive chef who helped grow Red Hot & Blue from a Rosslyn, Virginia, barbecue joint to an international chain in the 90s, died of lung cancer January 17. He was 74.” [Eater]

New Metro Lost and Found Policy — “Starting March 1, DC Metro says the ONLY lost-and-found items it will help customers reclaim are wallets and electronics. Metro says the rest (see sampling in current list below) will be trashed or auctioned off.” [Twitter, WMATA]

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Morning Notes

BBC Airs Segment on AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center, which is seeing record food need and lines throughout the day, was profiled in a segment that aired on BBC World News this week. [Twitter]

Fares to Return on ART Buses — “ART buses will resume front door boarding and fare collection starting on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Riders will begin boarding buses through the front door and will pay their fare at the fare box using a SmarTrip card or exact change. The regular ART bus fare for a one-way trip is $2.00.” [Arlington Transit]

Teens Launch Hot Cocoa Company — “In July, Wakefield High School rising seniors Farah Bahr and Sithiya Reshmee (who goes by the nickname ‘Resh’) founded F&R Sweets, a line that includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, churro cheesecake (made with croissant dough, cream cheese filling and cinnamon sugar) and hot chocolate bombs… the bombs ($3-$10 each) grabbed my attention. They are bonbon-like orbs filled with mini marshmallows, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (regular, caramel or peppermint) and sometimes other add-ins.” [Arlington Magazine]

AWLA Treats Dog With Skin Condition — “On Sunday, we were very surprised when a brown-eyed dog with a severe skin infection and hair loss came through our doors. He desperately needs us, and together we can start him on the path to healing. Rufus was found all alone on the side of the road and was brought to AWLA for help.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Patch]

Fort Myer Bowling Alley Back Open — “The [Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall] Bowling Center had a small grease fire last week that temporarily shut down operations. Today, the fire department and health inspections were completed and they were given approval to re-open at 2 p.m.” [Twitter]

Arlington is Soldier’s Resting Place, At Last — “An Army sergeant from Panama, Oklahoma who was killed during the Korean War has been identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” from the 55 boxes containing remains of American service members turned over by North Korea in 2018. “Rodgers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date that has yet to be determined.” [Times Record]

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As coronavirus cases rise in Arlington County, the number of residents in need of fresh, free food for their families is also increasing.

Executive Director and CEO Charles Meng said the Arlington Food Assistance Center is seeing record-high numbers of visitors each week and month.   

“Between October and November, we saw a 9.4% increase, serving 3,440 families at some point during the month,” Meng said in an email. “(We) responded to 11,255 visits for food during the month, with many families having to visit multiple weeks during the month.”

This morning (Monday), families lined up at AFAC to receive a Christmas special — a whole frozen chicken — as well as fresh veggies, desserts, milk and eggs. Volunteers split time de-stalking Brussels sprouts and briskly moving families through the line. 

AFAC has seen people coming more frequently for food during the pandemic, likely because personal budgets that could pay for part of a family’s food needs are now slimmer or non-existent, according to Meng. He added that there has also been an uptick in people coming to AFAC for the first time.

“Many of our families are service workers at hotels, restaurants and airports — the hardest hit during the pandemic,” Meng said. “We are seeing the families who would normally access our services come more often and the new families are more regularly coming for needed food.”

The number of clients served by AFAC last peaked in August, with the organization serving 3,364 over the course of the month. When the pandemic started, the number of families being referred to AFAC jumped by 45%, Meng told MSNBC earlier this month. 

The demand for food at AFAC has attracted both national and international media attention, with a BBC reporter visiting the organization’s distribution center near Shirlington last week.

The rise in demand locally tracks with trends seen nationwide.

An Associated Press analysis of Feeding America data from 181 food banks in its network found the organization has distributed nearly 57 percent more food in the third quarter of the year, compared with the same period in 2019. 

Food and financial donations are enough to keep up with demand, but as numbers continue to increase, Meng told ARLnow more help will be needed. 

“We have sufficient supplies to address our needs for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Financial donations have also been good, but with increasing numbers we need all (the money) that people can spare.”

The annual Boy Scout food drive, which usually brings in 50,000 pounds, was cancelled, but several scout groups still came through with smaller-scale drives, bringing in 36,000 pounds, he said. 

Donations from grocery stores are about level with last year, and individual donations have been “very strong,” he said. 

Nationwide, food banks are seeing fewer volunteers during the pandemic, NPR reports. In some cases, the usual group of volunteers includes older people, who are staying home due to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

AFAC also runs on the work of volunteers, who Meng commended for making sure the food bank handles the increase in visits despite the danger posed by the pandemic.

“Distributing food is one of the things we do well,” he told ARLnow. “We have a dedicated cadre of volunteers who have stepped up to help — they are the real heroes of AFAC.” 

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The second annual Cranksgiving charity bike ride returns to Arlington this Saturday (Nov. 21), and this year the choose-your-own adventure experience includes COVID-19 safety rules.

“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun on a bike while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Sarah Billington. “COVID-19 has caused dramatically increased demand for food assistance, and we’re trying to engage people who ride bikes to help contribute to fulfilling that need.”

Solo and team riders (up to 10) get a scavenger hunt list of tasks, like buying up to $15 in high-demand food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and ALIVE! in Alexandria. But due to the pandemic there is no designated starting point, and participants will need to take pictures of completed tasks and share progress on social media.

Participating organizations include The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. A virtual award ceremony will conclude the Thanksgiving-themed event, which runs from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

“Join your Cranksgiving family for a physically, but not socially distant Award Ceremony via Zoom to hangout, meet other participants, announce the winners, and earn fabulous prizes!” the event registration page says.

There are dozens of Cranksgiving bike events held around the country each year between September and December. The first was held in New York City in 1999.

Courtesy photo (above) from 2019

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