Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Cherrydale’s volunteer fire house is set to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its construction in 1919 this weekend.

The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department will host festivities and a fundraiser for the anniversary this Saturday (July 20) from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The Central Firehouse, owned the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, is the oldest in Arlington and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as a local historic landmark.

A parade will kick off the Saturday celebration at 10 a.m. starting from Saint Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street). The remainder of the festivities will be held at the firehouse (3900 Lee Highway). All activities are open to the public.

For kids, volunteers will set up a bouncy house and firetruck demonstrations after the parade.

Tours of the fire house and swing dance lessons will be available throughout the day, according to spokeswoman Elise Nelson. Radio station 94.7 FM The Drive will broadcast live from the event.

(Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department members are trained as firefighters and medics. They sometimes ride along with professional crews from the Arlington County Fire Department and provide some support services to ACFD during incidents, but do not currently fight fires, according to the local firefighters union. The Cherrydale VFD disputed the assertion that its members do not fight fires, but did not directly answer a request from ARLnow to provide a recent example of a VFD member engaged in fire suppression operations alongside ACFD.)

A chili cook off, a raffle, bingo and various games will wrap-up the evening. Guests can use a donation to vote for their favorite chili, made by members of the volunteer fire department. Prizes for raffles and bingo include gift basket from 35 partnering businesses.

The celebration will take on a more serious note mid-afternoon as firefighters who served during 9/11 will share their experiences with the audience, and the organization will remember Marvin Binns, a former member of the Cherrydale VFD. A plaque will be presented and hung on the wall along with his uniform. Binns died of cancer in 2015, according to his obituary.

“His inspiring 62-year legacy included many years of leadership as President, and 36 years bringing Santa to the station — making him a cherished figure for countless generations,” Nelson said.

The Cherrydale Fire Department began with a group of 12 men after they came together to battle a small fire, according to public library records. Over time, Cherrydale VFD grew as an organization and today has 50-60 members in its ranks. Though Arlington County took over responsibility for everyday emergencies, most of the members have emergency medical technician training and can assist police or other firefighters whenever a need may arise. They also help local authorities with lighting at emergency scenes and events.

The Saturday event will double as a fundraiser and proceeds will go towards the refurbishment of the fire house. Nelson said that the building needs foundational repairs as well as cosmetic retouches.

As a historical landmark, Nelson said that the building requires special attention from an expert familiar with refurbishing old buildings, which often comes at a higher cost.

“We can’t do anything that would go against that historical precedent,” she said.

For example, to repair crumbling brickwork on the outside of the building, they were quoted a cost of $50,000.

According to the book “The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department: A History” by author Kathryn Holt Springston, former President Woodrow Wilson and his wife each purchased a brick for the fire house during a fundraising event when it first opened. But, Wilson’s brick was later stolen.

Today, the building serves as a center for the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department and as a gathering space for community members. There is a gathering hall which is available to rent for weddings, banquets, parties or other events.

Nelson said that the group hopes to raise $100,000 in 2019 to keep the Cherrydale fire house running for at least another century.

Photos courtesy of Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department

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(Updated 3/28/19) Drag shows in Arlington are now taking their first high-heeled step outside the gay bar scene, but members of the scene say it hasn’t lost its roots.

For decades now, the only way to catch a drag show in Arlington, or Northern Virginia, was to head to Crystal City and line up at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St S.)

But earlier this month, one bar in Clarendon began offering drag bingo nights as gay business leaders say growing demand for the glittery entertainment is opening up new doors for drag queens.

Ten years ago, RuPaul’s Drag Race set out to find, “America’s next drag superstar” but in doing so the reality competition show also launched drag onto a mainstream stage for the first time. The show has since garnered millions of fans online, launched modeling careers for contestants, and introduced straight viewers to historically gay slang like “kiki.”

And As RuPaul’s moved from a niche gay television network to VH1, so too did drag shows begin moving from the gay bars to the straight pubs.

“Our drag shows have been consistently popular for all these years,” said Freddie’s owner Freddie Lutz. “But I have noticed that with the RuPaul’s Drag Race coming on the scene that a lot of drag shows have been popping up all over the place — even in straight bars.”

“RuPaul has kind of made it more mainstream,” agreed long-time local drag queen Destiny B. Childs, who managed Freddies’ weekend drag shows for the last 15 years, adding that until recently not many straight bars hosted drag.

Arlington is now joining D.C. and other local jurisdictions in having drag events at straight bars. The mainstream move was kickstarted by the Board Room in Clarendon (925 N. Garfield Street), whose owner Mark Handwerger said he first had the idea to bring the glitz and glam of drag to his establishments after a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I went to a drag brunch out in Vegas and we ended up having to go to the 11 o’clock one because the 9 o’clock was sold out and the 3 o’clock was sold out,” he said of his trip with friends. “So it was like we came back thinking, ‘This could be a great fit’.”

Handwerger said to him incorporating drag events into the Board Room was no different than the modifications he’s made to his other bars like Buffalo Billiards as people’s taste changes.

“We try to look for trends and give people want they want,” he said.

But for the LGBT community, drag shows have been a fixture from the beginning. Over the decades, drag queens have donned make-up and wigs to start the Stonewall Riots and fundraise for AIDS research during the height of the epidemic.

Drag queens’ gender-bending performances are an integral part of the culture and history of queer and trans communities, stories some people worry could get lost in the translation to pop culture.

But Arlington is special, Childs and Lutz say, because traditionally Freddies’ encouraged mingling between the gay population and their straight, cis allies. Lutz said this is because when he bought the bar “Foxhole” and turned it into “Freddie’s” he never closed for renovations or kicked the regular bar clientele out.

“I just came in and started painting everything purple,” said Lutz. “We just had gay people start coming in and mixing with the dart-throwers. That was actually some of the most magical times.”

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

 Tuesday, Feb. 13

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
St. John’s Episcopal Church (415 S. Lexington Street)
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.

Join the Shrove Tuesday celebration with the traditional pancake feasting prior to the Lenten fasting. Adults pay $5 each and $3 each for kids 6-12. Younger children are free.

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade
Wilson Boulevard from Barton to Irving Streets
Time: 7-11 p.m.

A family-friendly parade with marchers, bands, and the occasional dressed up dog or pony. Expect lots of costumes and beads thrown from parade floats.

Wednesday, Feb. 14

St. Agnes Ash Wednesday Mass
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Worshipers can attend Ash Wednesday Masses throughout the day, from early morning until mid-evening, to celebrate the beginning of Lent and receive their ashes.

 Thursday, Feb. 15

Archives of American Gardens: Capturing Garden History
Little Falls Presbyterian Church (6025 Little Falls Road)
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The Smithsonian Gardens’ horticulture collections manager, Cindy Brown, will discuss American garden history conservation with photographs and documents. An optional lunch is $5.

 Friday, Feb. 16

Creative Coffee: Mark Making
Connection: Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive)
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

A casual weekly creative meet-up for artists to experiment and improve their work in a social setting. Bring your own materials to this adult-friendly gathering.

Sound Check: Music Bingo
Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe (3100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.

Test your musical trivia knowledge with an aurally-inspired bingo game. You’ll have 30 seconds to figure out a song and match it to your bingo card. Prizes after every round and happy hour pricing.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Long Branch Nature Center (625 S Carlin Springs Road)
Time: 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with the naturalists at Long Branch Nature Center. There will be live animals, dragon crafts, and a short hike holiday-themed hike.

St. Agnes Soup Supper
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.

Sarah Colonna Live
Arlington Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 10 p.m.

Comedian, author, and Chelsea Lately roundtable regular Sarah Colonna performs at the Arlington Drafthouse with three performances over two nights,

 Saturday, Feb. 17

USA-Russia Olympic Hockey Watch Party Brunch
Quinn’s On The Corner (1776 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6:45 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Courthouse sports bar is opening very early for an Olympic USA versus Russia hockey watch party, with $1 champagne flutes and brunch until 5 p.m.

Hamiltunes: An American Singalong
Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 12 – 4 p.m.

Sing along to the music of “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Revolutionary War-era costumes encouraged and appreciated. A costume contest will be held during intermission.

Studio Xfinity’s Lunar New Year
Studio Xfinity (3601 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 1 – 5 p.m.

A free celebration at Studio Xfinity for the Year of the Dog, with dragon dancers, calligraphy, a fortune cookie bar, and more activities.

Conversation: Poets Jodie Hollander and Robert Mezey
One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street)
Time: 6 – 7 p.m.

Poets Jodie Hollander and Robert Mezey will read from their works. Hollander will share from her collection, My Dark Horses. Poet and critic Mezey will share from his award-winning body of work.

 Sunday, Feb. 18

President’s Day Celebration at Market Common
The Loop at Market Common (2800 Clarendon Boulevard)
Time: 12:30  – 3:30 p.m.

Don’t want to race yourself? Watch the Washington Nationals’ Presidents race around the Loop. Free Nicecream hot cocoa provided, and there will be a photo booth and prize wheel.

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