Arlington, VA

(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Dutch artist Gijsbert Kok plays an instrument similar to an organ — except it controls bells instead of pipes.

The instrument is called a carillon and Kok will be playing it during his performance at the Netherlands Carillon, near Rosslyn and the Iwo Jima memorial, this Saturday (July 20).

Kok’s performance in Arlington is part of the free weekly concerts hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) through the end of the summer. The concerts run from 6-8 p.m., except for the September 2 event, which will take place from 2-4 p.m.

Guests can bring lawn chairs, blankets or simply sit on the grass. NPS suggests that guests park or arrive via the Rosslyn Metro, which is about a 15-minute walk. Parking is available at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

This year’s concert lineup for the remainder of the summer is as follows:

  • July 20 — Gijsbert Kok, Bodegraven, The Netherlands
  • July 27 — Doug Gefvert, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
  • August 3 — Edward M.Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia
  • August 10 — Lynnli Wang, Washington, D.C.
  • August 17 — Edward M. Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia
  • August 24 — Elisa Tersigni, Washington, D.C.
  • August 31 — Jesse Ratcliffe, Warrenton, Virginia
  • September 2 — Edward M. Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia

In addition to his bell ringing, Kok is also an organist who performs at churches and for concerts across the United States and Europe.

The National Park Service received the carillon as a gift from the Netherlands in commemoration of the United States’ assistance during World War ll. It is comprised of 50 bells, weighing over 30 tons. The bells are set to be removed this fall and sent via ship back to the Netherlands for cleaning as part of a major rehabilitation project.

Photo (1) via Joseph Gruber/Flickr, map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Smoking Hot Near HQ2 — “Since Amazon announced in November its choice of Crystal City and Pentagon City, the median home sale price in that area has increased 17.7%, leaping to $655,000, and the typical home was placed under contract in just six days, down from 10 days last year, according to fresh data from real estate brokerage Redfin.” [Washington Business Journal, Axios, WTOP]

Marymount Names Tech-Oriented Interim Business Dean — “Tech expert and entrepreneur Jonathan Aberman is the new interim dean of Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology. Aberman replaces outgoing dean Marianne Ward-Peradoza and officially takes the reins of the school July 1.” [Washington Business Journal, PRNewswire]

Missing: Firefighter’s Keys — “A firefighter left his keys on the bumper of a fire truck while rushing to an emergency! If you happened to pick up this set of keys along Wilson Blvd from Ballston to 7 Corners, kindly return them to Fire Station 2!” [Twitter]

Water Main Work in Lyon Village — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews are working on an 8-inch main at the 2800 block of Key Boulevard. Some 150 water customers could be affected. The street is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]

Metro Summer Shutdown Underway — “After long lines and packed buses shortly after opening, commuters on Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines are seeing more frequent pick-ups but some traffic delays… Tuesday is the first work day that six stations on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport are closed for platform repairs and other upgrades until Sept. 8.” [WTOP]

Photo: Tomb Sentinel in Thursday’s Storm — “On Thursday, Arlington was hit hard with rain and wind with gusts up to 70mph, but that didn’t stop one man from honoring the fallen. A Tomb Sentinel withstood torrential rains and wind gusts to honor the fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” [WJLA, Facebook]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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This weekend, volunteers are expected to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery with thousands of flowers for Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation says it is donating 220,000 blooms for the annual event at the cemetery, and expects 1,200 volunteers will be on-site from around 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help place the flowers.

“Our primary goal for 2019 is to decorate all 300,000 headstones and niches at Arlington,” the foundation wrote on its website.

The foundation began decorating back in 2012, after part-Ecuadorean founder Ramiro Peñaherrera rustled up donations from Ecuador’s major rose growers for his and other family members buried at the cemetery.

Today, the flowers are donated from growers across the U.S., as well as Ecuador and Colombia, and the event is sponsored by several companies, including FedEx, Cisco, and TD Bank.

A spokeswoman for the foundation told ARLnow that family members interested in a flower for a loved one’s grave at the cemetery can request one by contacting the foundation at [email protected] and a volunteer will send a photo of the flower once it’s placed at the gravestone.

Yesterday, the Arlington National Cemetery also hosted its annual “Flags-In” tradition of placing American flags at the gravestones — despite the storm that felled trees and pelted rain and hail down in the area.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the The Old Guard, returned later that day to reset the flags after the storm passed.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the ceremony yesterday where 250,000 flags were placed at gravestones.

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Medics from the Arlington County Fire Department are on scene of a reported suicide in Arlington National Cemetery.

Initial reports suggest a woman killed herself near the Confederate Memorial on the western side of the cemetery.

Though it is unknown whether the deceased individual is in any way affiliated with the military, the nation is in the midst of an epidemic of veteran suicide.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or text 703-940-0888.

Map via Google Maps

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This year Easter and the Passover Seder fall on the same weekend, and Arlington is hosting celebrations for people of Christian and Jewish faiths.

In addition to services at local churches, on Sunday, April 21, Arlington National Cemetery is reprising its annual Easter Sunrise Service starting at 6:51 a.m.

The non-denominational service is held at the Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater where gates open at 5 a.m. The service will feature a performance by the U.S. Army Band and a message from Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Thomas L. Solhjem, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Chaplains.

The cemetery’s parking garage will be free for all attendees until 8 a.m. and a shuttle will escort people from the cemetery welcome center to the amphitheater. DoD ID holders can park at the Tri-Services parking lot in the base where a shuttle will also ferry riders to the amphitheater.

The sunrise service is free and attendees are encouraged to check Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Facebook page for updates. Backpacks and pets, except service animals, will not be allowed in for the event.

For Passover, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd) is hosting two events together with the Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Jewish Community — on Sunday, April 14 from 5-6:15 p.m., and on Saturday, April 20 from 6-8 p.m.

On April 14, Rabbi Gilah Langner and Tot Shabbat Coordinator Andrea Cate will perform Passover songs and stories and give “tips and practice for leading your own Seder at home” per the event description on their website.

The event is free and advertised as “great for kids 0-8.” Attendees are asked to RSVP to [email protected].

On April 20, UU congregation member Herb Levy will read from Kol Ami’s Haggadah and lead the evening’s events. The “Community Seder” potluck features poached salmon and costs $20 per adult, and $5 per child, plus a dish to share.

The online event description asks attendees to sign up by April 13 online and let organizers know if they can help with set up and cleanup.

Synagogues in and around Arlington will also be hosting their respective services.

Flickr pool photo by Lawrence Cheng Photography

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Arlington National Cemetery is preparing to welcome thousands of volunteers tomorrow (Saturday) for its annual wreath removal event, and officials are urging participants to prepare for the big crowds.

Starting at 8 a.m., cemetery officials are expecting “traffic congestion and delays on nearby streets and at the cemetery’s entrances” for the “Wreaths Out” event, according to a news release.

Volunteers will be charged with disposing of the more than 245,000 wreaths distributed at headstones for the “Wreaths Across America” event last month.

“This is a special day where the wreaths placed at these hallowed grounds during the holiday season in remembrance and honor of our nation’s fallen service members and their families will be respectfully removed by volunteers,” Arlington National Cemetery Operations Director Micheal Migliara wrote in a statement. “We encourage volunteers to use all four entrances to access the cemetery which include Memorial Avenue, Ord and Weitzel gate, South gate and for DoD cardholders, the Old Post Chapel gate.”

Much like the wreath-laying event, the cemetery will block off all vehicle access to the grounds until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Family pass holders and volunteers with handicapped passes will be allowed to park in the ANC’s parking garage starting at 7 a.m., on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone arriving by car should stay in their vehicle until the cemetery opens at 8 a.m.

People arriving via rideshare or taxi should plan on exiting somewhere adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop. Officials also highly encourage people taking Metro to reach the event.

The cemetery also issued the following tips for volunteers:

  • Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way and let them pass in roadways.
  • Remove only WAA wreaths. Leave all other wreaths or decorations in place.
  • Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery and pack them tightly.
  • When dumpsters are filled, do not pile wreaths next to them. Carry wreaths to unfilled dumpsters.
  • Refrain from jumping or climbing on wreaths in dumpsters to compress them.

Flickr photos via Arlington National Cemetery

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Morning Notes

Icy Conditions on N. Glebe Road — The northbound lanes of N. Glebe Road are closed at Military Road “for an unknown amount of time” due to icy conditions. [Twitter]

County Board Member is Pregnant — Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol and her husband Steve are expecting their first child in May. [Twitter]

Long-Time APS Employee Dies — Charles Weber, a World War II veteran who “worked for Arlington County Public Schools for thirty-seven years and served as Principal of Swanson Junior High School and Stratford Junior High School,” has died at the age of 91. [Dignity Memorial]

Scooter Trips > Bikeshare Trips — “In October, when Arlington, Va.’s scooter pilot began, there were 69,189 Bird and Lime scooter trips for 75,425 total miles traveled with Bird and Lime. Meanwhile, Capital Bikeshare – routinely and still considered a success, with lots more potential – had 26,532 total trips in Arlington in October.” [Mobility Labs, Twitter]

Growing Number of $200K+ Earners in Arlington — “If there’s one place in America that doesn’t need a helping hand from Jeff Bezos, it could be [Arlington and the D.C. suburbs]. The Washington commuter area is home to four of the top 10 (Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6) fastest-growing census tracts of high earners.” [Bloomberg]

Conspiracy Theorists Eye Cemetery — “QAnon believers have become convinced the deep-state cabal has a bunker under Arlington Cemetery, connected to a tunnel running straight to Comet Ping Pong.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

More Details on WeWork in Rosslyn — “WeWork has made it official: The coworking space provider is expanding, in a big way, into Rosslyn. Its newest location, expected to open in the second quarter of 2019, will include more than 1,400 desks across four floors of JBG Smith Properties’ CEB Tower, 1201 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

Wreaths Laid Despite Rain — “Despite the rain, tens of thousands of volunteers came out on Saturday to lay wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery… President Trump made an appearance, speaking to soldiers while at the cemetery.” [WJLA, Fox News]

Explainer: State Roads in Arlington — “Though it’s not obvious, the roads you use every day are owned by an overlapping patchwork of governments, regulatory bodies, and private interests. This isn’t a story of tyrannical state governments imposing their will upon localities, but of intergovernmental coordination that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.” [Greater Greater Washington]

New ART Route Starts Today — “ART 72 connects North Arlington to Ballston and Shirlington. The new route, along with Metrobus 22A/C, brings more frequent weekday service between Ballston and Shirlington. Service operates every 20 minutes during rush hours and every 30 minutes the rest of the day.” [Arlington Transit]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Anyone planning on heading to Arlington National Cemetery for this weekend’s “Wreaths Across America” event might want to consider using public transit to get there, or prepare for some hefty delays.

ANC officials say they’ll be barring all personal vehicles from the cemetery’s grounds during the length of the annual wreath-laying event, set to run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 15).

They’re also planning on welcoming a larger number of volunteers at the event than in years past, prompting “numerous changes to ensure the safety and security of those who participate,” according to a press release. Accordingly, officials are urging participants to arrive promptly at 8 a.m., and rely on Metro, if at all possible.

“We encourage all volunteers to arrive early and recommend taking the Pentagon or Rosslyn Metro and walking into the cemetery,”ANC Operations Director Micheal Migliara wrote in a statement. “It’s a short, 15-minute walk from these stops and the most seamless way to access our hallowed grounds on this special day.”

ANC leaders are expecting so many people to use the cemetery’s Metro stop that they expect the other stations will be a bit easier for visitors to use. Anyone getting off at Rosslyn should enter through the cemetery’s Ord & Weitzel gate by walking along the N. Meade Street sidewalks, and anyone getting off at the Pentagon station should use the cemetery’s South Gate entrance.

General public parking will still be available at the Pentagon’s north parking lot (in lanes 50-60) and south parking lot (lanes 1-18), as well as at the Pentagon City Mall parking garage.

The Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center parking garage, however, will only be available to “ANC Family Pass holders” who have preregistered for the event.

All the cemetery’s gates will open to the public at 8 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony inside the cemetery at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. The wreath laying is set to start by 9 a.m.

County police are also warning of traffic changes starting at 5 a.m., including:

  • Southgate Road, between Columbia Pike and S. Oak Street, will be closed and restricted to authorized vehicles only. Temporary no parking signs have been posted and vehicles in violation will be towed after noon today (Friday)
  • Marshall Drive, between N. Meade Street and Rt. 110, will be closed and restricted to shuttle bus traffic only.
  • Memorial Avenue, from Memorial Circle to the Ccmetery entrance will be closed.
  • Access to the Memorial Bridge from southbound George Washington Parkway and northbound Rt. 110 will also be closed.
  • Additional road closures will be implemented in locations along I-395, the G.W. Parkway, and the Pentagon Peservation by the Virginia State Police, U.S. Park Police, and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
  • Other roads not listed may be closed for short duration at the discretion of law enforcement.

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon

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Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.

“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”

Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.

Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.

The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.

For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.

But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”

As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.

The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.

One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.

The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”

Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.

The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.

People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.

The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.

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The Army is now set to build a two-mile-long, eight-foot-high security fence along the border of the Arlington National Cemetery and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The National Capital Planning Commission, a regional planning body focused on projects on federally owned land, unanimously signed off on designs for the new fence at a meeting last month. The project, commissioned to replace a four-foot-high fence currently separating the base from the cemetery, will also include a five-foot-wide walking trail along the perimeter of the burial ground and a new parking lot to replace some spaces to be eliminated by the construction.

The Army proposed the new fence in the first place over concerns that the existing wall is “no longer adequate to protect the employees on the installation,” according to a report prepared by the commission’s staff. The fence will include four gates to allow access between the base and the cemetery — the fence itself will be “anti-climb and the gates will be both anti-climb and anti-ram,” according to staff.

The gates were a particular point of concern for some members of the commission, who pressed the Army to to reconsider designs at the Selfridge and Memorial Chapel gates, in particular. However, the fence’s designers said they couldn’t quite manage to find a design that would simultaneously meet the Army’s design concerns and the aesthetic issues the commission identified.

“[At] Selfridge, I think we’ve proven that beauty and elegance is gone from our minds,” Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Gallas said during the Oct. 4 meeting. “And I guess I’m disappointed, because I know everybody, everybody, all the stakeholders appreciate what that gate feels like as you approach it. It really is something powerful, as we went there to see it, it moves you. And it won’t move you anymore. Nothing’s going to move there. It’s constipated, I guess you could say.”

The Army does plan to add more shrubs and landscaping at the gates to help address some of those concerns, according to the staff report.

The project will also include a trail, which “follows the path of countless runners and walkers” and “will be made from permeable pavement.” The Army also hopes to add “small seating areas with benches and detailed planting along the trail,” the report says.

The cemetery is set to see a bevy of other changes in the coming years, with plans for a massive expansion of the burial ground and a realignment of many nearby roads.

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