Press Club
Enchanted Rhapsody is set for Saturday, April 9 in Crystal City (image via screenshot/National Landing BID)

A string quartet will play pop music in Crystal City this weekend as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The event, dubbed Enchanted Rhapsody is taking place at the intersection of 6th Street S. and S. Ball Street on Saturday from 4-7:30 p.m. It will feature food, drink and the musical stylings of the Edgewood String Quartet, which will perform classical renderings of Taylor Swift and Queen songs.

The string foursome is known for its covers of pop songs or, as the press release puts it, “think Bridgerton-style classical covers IRL.”

“An evening of Taylor Swift versus Queen songs performed by the Edgewood String Quartet will welcome the bliss of springtime and the beauty of the cherry blossoms,” an event announcement said.

There will be drink and food specials from local Arlington businesses RĀKO, Crystal City Wine Shop, and Bun’d Up. A Captain Cookie and Milkman food truck will also be there. The D.C.-based sweets shop is opening up a Courthouse location later this spring.

This is the neighborhood’s first official Cherry Blossom Festival event, according to the announcement. The event is being co-hosted by the National Landing Business Improvement District and tickets are free, though registration is being requested.

While many of this season’s cherry blossoms met a gusty end last week, the National Cherry Blossom Festival continues until April 17. In Arlington, there are still petal porches to see and bike rides to take to catch what remains of this year’s blossoms.

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Last year’s Blossom Kite Festival at Virginia Highlands Park (photo courtesy of Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Locals can go fly a kite this weekend at Virginia Highlands Park in the Pentagon City area, for the Blossom Kite Festival.

Held in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the kite festival is one of a dozen taking place at D.C.-area parks this coming Saturday, March 26.

The event will feature live entertainment, food trucks, origami, art projects, and, of course, kites. It will take place on the diamond fields at the corner of S. Joyce Street and 15th Street S. from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

This is the Pentagon City park’s second year holding the festival. Upwards of 750 people are expected to attend, organizers tell ARLnow, with the first hundred attendees receiving a kite kit.

“It’s been such a difficult couple of years. This is the first big event Arlington Parks and Recreation has been able to hold outside in a long time,” says Laura Barragan, special events manager at the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation. ” Our community has been so resilient and resourceful during the pandemic. We should celebrate ourselves and our community. The Blossom Kite Festival is a way we can bring the magic of the Cherry Blossom Festival to Arlington.”

Live entertainment will include a flamenco artist, rock and roll cover band, kid-friendly street performers, and gypsy-rock group the 19th Street Band. There will also be local food trucks like the Big Cheese, BBQ At Its Best, El Encanto Latino and Kona Ice.

Attendees additionally have an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture, including demonstrations on making origami cherry trees and how to play the wooden ball skill game kendama.

Dogs are welcome and the festival is rain or shine, though in case of severe weather it will be rescheduled for Sunday. The event is being sponsored by Amazon, according to the website.

The event will be taking place after peak bloom has been reached at the Tidal Basin.

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Blossoms are beginning to bloom in Arlington and the temperature is expected to climb above 60 this afternoon. Sounds like a good time for a bike ride.

Luckily, local bike boosters have made some handy maps for seeing the blossoms on two wheels.

The cherry blossom bike maps from BikeArlington are aimed at helping residents catch full bloom without leaving the county and fighting crowds across the Potomac.

BikeArlington, the county-sponsored bike education program, has released long and short bike routes to assist cyclists in finding blossoms across the county.

Cherry blossom season is one of the most-anticipated times of the year in the D.C. area with the delicate, pink flowers attracting locals and tourists alike. Peak bloom is expected to happen between March 23 and 25 this year, according to the National Park Service, though this weekend’s cold and (likely) snowy weather could change that.

BikeArlington’s long bike route covers a 17 mile loop estimated to take under two hours and hits seven locations. Those stops include checking out trees at the Shirlington Branch Library, Ballston’s Welburn Square, Quincy Park in Virginia Square, and Cherrydale.

“Bike along the streets between Route 29, N. Quincy St, and I-66,” reads the map. “There’s a reason this neighborhood is named Cherrydale!”

Screenshot of BikeArlington’s long cherry blossom bike map

The short route covers 2.5 miles and is estimated to take under 20 minutes, without stopping. It takes riders through Arlington National Cemetery, Gravelly Point, and to the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial.

“Stop and sit at benches that overlook the cherry blossom trees on the other side of the river,” the map reads.

While the Tidal Basin blossoms in D.C. are the “official” trees that were gifted by the Japanese government, there are plenty of blooms to behold in Arlington. At Arlington National Cemetery, there are more than 400 cherry trees. Just last year, dozens of new cherry blossom trees were planted in National Landing.

A number of cherry blossom-related events will be happening over the next month in Arlington, including a kite festival at Virginia Highlands Park, a petal porch parade, and public art installations.

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor at left, the Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor at right, and the Four Mile Run Valley at bottom (staff photo)

Man Tased After Columbia Pike Assault — “The suspect was inside of a business, acting disorderly and aggressive towards other patrons, when he allegedly approached the victim and struck him in the face. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require medical treatment. Responding officers located the suspect, who continued to act disorderly and resisted arrest. A brief struggle ensued, during which the officer deployed a TASER, and the suspect was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.” [ACPD]

D.C. Also Has Camp Registration Drama — “Hey… it looks like DC is having similar problems with @VermontSystems as @ArlingtonVA had last week.” [Twitter]

Library Reads on the Ukraine Conflict — “Ukraine and Russia are top of the headlines around the world. Dig deeper into the two countries and their history in these books.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

Marymount Going Mask Optional — “On Monday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the institution’s indoor mask requirement will no longer be in effect starting this Tuesday, March 1. This decision is based upon low COVID-19 metrics in Arlington County.” [Press Release]

On to States for W-L Boys Hoops — “The host South Lakes Seahawks played a part in the Generals’ failed attempt, winning that Feb. 25 boys 6D North Region tournament boys high-school basketball title contest, 56-47… Next for Washington-Liberty is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, with a first-round quarterfinal game against the undefeated Hayfield Hawks on March 4 or 5.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Wants to Nix Stadium Tax Break — “A Virginia congressman wants to sack a financial incentive package aimed at luring the Washington Commanders’ new stadium to the Commonwealth. U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in the heart of Northern Virginia, said stadium bond packages like the one working its way through the Virginia state legislature takes needed tax revenue out of the pockets of taxpayers all to benefit people who have more than enough money to build new stadiums on their own.” [WUSA 9]

Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — From the National Park Service: “We’re projecting cherry blossom peak bloom to fall between March 22 – 25 this year!” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny skies in the morning become partly cloudy. High of 60 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:40 am and sunset at 6:03 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Cherry Trees Planted in Pentagon City — “We are so excited to be celebrating with @CherryBlossFest and @amazon the planting of 12 Japanese Cherry Trees in #NationalLanding! Thank you for these beautiful new additions to the area!” [Twitter]

Renderings of Possible DCA Bridge — “JBG Smith Properties isn’t waiting to envision the future. In a video released to investors this month, the company showed off some 3D renderings of what a pedestrian bridge could look like, complete with some features that have not yet been showcased publicly for the project. There’s a small set of amphitheater-like steps for lounging on the bridge, for instance, plus some futuristic-looking coverings for people walking along the structure. There even appear to be bike lanes and greenery pictured at points along the bridge.” [Washington Business Journal, Vimeo]

Arrests in Malicious Wounding Case — “Officers located the vehicle the suspects were traveling in and conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of eastbound Route 50 and N. Courthouse Road… Inside the vehicle, officers recovered three loaded firearms including a black handgun with extended magazine, AR-15 style rifle and a shotgun.” [ACPD]

County 911 Center Administrator Honored — “The Virginia Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (VA APCO) has honored Arlington’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Deputy Administrator Jeffrey Horwitz with its Public-Safety Communications Information Technologist of the Year award.” [Arlington County]

Feds May Permanently Expand Telework — “As the Biden administration contemplates how to return the massive federal workforce to the office, government officials are moving to make a pandemic experiment permanent by allowing more employees than ever to work from home — a sweeping cultural change that would have been unthinkable a year ago.” [Washington Post, Washingtonian]

Virtual Chamber Ensemble Performance — “The National Chamber Ensemble will present a virtual performance of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons on May 29, 2021. The 2020-21 NCE season has been keeping the audience and artists safe as well as connected. Each concert is paired with a live virtual event/conversation with the artists. Taped May 22, the concert links will go out on May 29.” [Event Calendar]

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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) After a pandemic winter, the region’s annual rite of spring is finally here: The cherry blossoms have bloomed.

A string of warm weather days got the famed Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to hit peak bloom a few days earlier than initially predicted. While there were fears that peak bloom would result in crowded conditions that would prompt the National Park Service to shut down access, that has yet to materialize.

As of now, the Tidal Basin remains open with peak bloom expected to last about a week.

If blossom peeping is what you’re after, then Arlington National Cemetery is another possible destination, with numerous cherry blossom trees. However, it’s currently only open to the public on a limited basis.

Here in Arlington, our cherry blossoms aren’t as famous as those across the river, but there are still plenty to see elsewhere around the county. Clusters of cherry trees and blossoms can be seen in various Arlington neighborhoods, heralding the arrival of spring without the fanfare of their Tidal Basin brethren.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott traveled around Arlington over the past week to capture some of the blooms, as seen in the gallery above.

There are other ways to participate in the cherry blossom festivities that don’t require venturing across the Potomac.

In National Landing, where dozens of cherry trees are being planted, two “Art in Bloom” sculptures are now on display. Relatedly, Amazon is now a top-level sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Arlington restaurants are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” program, which highlights cherry blossom-inspired dishes.

A new addition to the festival is the “Porch Parade and Pedal Procession,” in which area residents and businesses decorate their porches, yards, and windows with a cherry blossom theme. Arlington is home to numerous such displays, according to a map.

Some Arlington neighborhoods, including the Aurora Highlands community near National Landing, are even organizing their own cherry blossom activities this year.

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Morning Notes

Tornado Drill Today — “Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.” [Va. Dept. of Emergency Management]

Pentagon Row Harris Teeter’s Future in Flux — “Despite concerns from nearby residents, Arlington County Board members on March 20 could give the owner of Pentagon Row the ability to, potentially, significantly downsize grocery-store operations… Located on a 15-acre parcel in Pentagon City, the site has long included a Harris-Teeter supermarket. But that initial lease term is expiring, and there is no guarantee the supermarket chain will want to stay in the existing space.” [Sun Gazette]

Coronavirus Tests Available at DCA — “Coronavirus testing launched Monday at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports, which became the latest airports across the country to offer the tests. The centers are outside the security checkpoints at both airports and are operated by XpresCheck, which runs centers at a number of U.S. airports.” [Washington Post]

New Building to Have Temporary Hotel Rooms — “Arlington County Board members next month are expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of the 809-unit property at 1555 Wilson Blvd. is asking permission to use 100 of the residential units as hotel space starting in late summer. Eventually, the units would revert to their originally intended purpose.” [Sun Gazette]

Cherry Blossom Sculptures Arrive in Arlington — From the National Landing BID: “Two official @CherryBlossFest sculptures have landed! One at the Esplanade at Long Bridge Park and one at the Crystal City Water Park. They will be up through May 31.” [Twitter]

Bill Would Allow 15 MPH Speed Limits in Va. — “Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General Assembly session, however, would change that, permitting posted speed limits to drop as low as 15 mph. A ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge, but for pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of traffic collisions, the change could mean the difference between life and death.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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Programming for the 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival is crossing the Potomac River into National Landing.

The festival, scheduled to run from March 20 through April 11, is springing back this year after it had to cancel or modify most of its events last year due to the coronavirus.

Dozens of cherry trees will be planted in National Landing this spring and the area will feature two “Art in Bloom” sculptures and pink pop-up installations. Some restaurants in the business district are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” restaurant program while residents and local businesses will participate in the “Porch Parade and Petal Procession” — a new addition to the festival.

The inclusion of Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard is made possible through a new partnership among the festival, Amazon, the National Landing Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith.

In November, Amazon was announced to be the new lead sponsor of the 2021 festival, supplanting Japanese airline ANA, which held the position for four years, Washington Business Journal reported. JBG Smith and the BID will be credited as Sakura Circle supporters.

Bringing parts of the festival to National Landing increases visibility for the growing urban center and positions it to be a signature partner of the festival for years to come, said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, head of the National Landing BID.

“The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a perfect complement to our work to create a vibrant destination for generations to come that celebrates such rich culture, joy and history,” she said in a statement.

Executive Vice President of JBG Smith Andy Van Horn said he particularly looks forward to the installation of an “Art in Bloom” sculpture at the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive), where it can be enjoyed throughout the festival before planned improvements on the park begin. Working with Amazon and the BID to support the festival in 2021 was a natural fit, he added.

“The partnership highlights the hard work and progress underway to transform National Landing into a vibrant, 18-hour neighborhood brimming with culture, excitement, and unmatched potential,” he said. Another sculpture is planned along the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.

Brooke Oberwetter, Head of External Affairs for Amazon in Arlington, said the company — which is in the midst of building its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City — looks forward to kicking off its partnership with the festival, JBG Smith and the BID this year, and “building on it in years to come.”

“We could not be more pleased to help bring some of the excitement of the National Cherry Blossom Festival to National Landing,” Oberwetter said in a statement.

This year, the National Parks Service is projecting the blossoms to peak in early April.

Due to the coronavirus, some experiences, including the Opening Ceremony, will be virtual or a hybrid of in-person and online.

File photo

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Weekend Morning Notes

About This Post — Due to lots of coronavirus-related news, we have a number of non-disease-related local links that we haven’t been able to get to over the past two weeks. We’re running a one-time Weekend Morning Notes post to clear our queue. This will replace the usual weekend discussion post.

Arlington Cherry Blossom Walk — “Cherry blossom season in the D.C. area is a wonderful time of year, and taking in the blossoms is a beloved tradition. WalkArlington has created a walk featuring a few of our favorite locations in Arlington where you can appreciate the blooms and enjoy all that springtime in Arlington has to offer.” [WalkArlington]

Median Signs Promote Census — “What is good for the goose apparently is not good for the gander – if, that is, the gander is the Arlington County government. Those driving the roadways of Arlington in recent weeks no doubt have seen a flurry of median signage calling attention to, and promoting participation in, the federal census.” [InsideNova]

Local Cat Makes Headlines –“An adorable cat with a jaw deformity can’t help but always stick her tongue out – and her owner has insisted she wouldn’t have her pet any other way. Pretty Kitty, five, from Arlington, Virginia, can only open her mouth a ‘small amount’, and has her tongue always sticking out thanks to the way her jaw formed.” [Daily Mail]

Instant Runoff Voting for Arlington? — “Voters in future Arlington County Board elections could find themselves using the ‘instant-runoff’ method rather than the current ‘winner-takes-it-all’ manner. Both houses of the General Assembly have approved and sent to Gov. Northam a measure allowing Arlington to conduct its County Board races using instant-runoff voting, also known as ‘ranked-choice’ voting.” [InsideNova]

Arlington-Based Textile Brand Profiled — “From a plant-filled studio in Arlington, Diana Johnson translates ideas in her head to paper by lettering, illustrating and painting. Using her background in graphic design, Johnson is able to transform her artwork digitally into handcrafted products like pillows, clutches, greeting cards and, most often, prints to add a little color to any space.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Green Valley Looks Forward — “Low-level sales of marijuana and other substances in the Green Valley community in the 1960s grew into a full-fledged, open-air ‘drug supermarket’ by the early 1980s, with the intersection of 24th Road South and Shirlington Road ground zero for the illegal operations. On March 7, leaders of the community looked back at those days, and committed themselves to ensuring a better future for their community.” [InsideNova]

Chamber Acquires ‘Awesome Women’ –“Awesome Women (AWE), the professional networking group founded in Arlington in 2014 that now has six chapters throughout the DC area, announced today that it will become a program of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce later this year. The Arlington Chamber will offer women-only networking events beginning in the fall, and will call the new program the Arlington Chamber Chapter of AWE.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Victim of Pentagon Stabbing Identified — “The man who was fatally stabbed Monday morning on the platform of the Pentagon Metro station has been identified as a 25-year-old from Northwest Washington, a spokesman for the transit agency said. Sean Ronaldo Golden, who lived near the District’s Brightwood Park neighborhood, died shortly after arriving at George Washington University Hospital, a report provided by Metro says.” [Washington Post]

New Pho Restaurant Opens on Columbia Pike — Pho Harmony, a carry-out Vietnamese noodle restaurant, has opened on the 3200 block of Columbia Pike. [Twitter]

And now here it is, your moment of zen…

https://twitter.com/wamu885/status/1241206140475768832

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Metro will be suspending all daytime track work during the region’s Cherry Blossom season, however night work is still scheduled to impact Arlington.

Some track work will continue after 10 p.m., as the agency continues scheduled maintenance and capital improvement projects. Crews will be installing radio cables on the Yellow and Blue lines during Cherry Blossom season this year, causing single tracking in Arlington during the following times:

  • March 22-24 on the Yellow Line between Pentagon City and L’Enfant Plaza, and on the Blue Line between Pentagon City and Arlington Cemetery
  • March 25-29 on the Yellow Line between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City
  • April 1-5 on the Yellow Line between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City
  • April 7 on the Yellow Line between L’Enfant and Pentagon City

The transit agency says it will beef up service during the festival. Between Saturday, March 23 to Sunday, April 14, Metro lines will operate on the following schedule according to the announcement:

  • Trains will arrive at downtown D.C. stations every 4-7 minutes
  • Red Line trains could run every 6 minutes until 9:30 p.m.
  • All other Saturday trains running every 12 minutes
  • All other Sunday trains every 15 minutes

The Cherry Blossom Festival attracted 1.5 million visitors to the greater Washington region last year and netted $160 million in local revenue, reported the Washington Business Journal.

Visitors flocking to Cherry Blossom blooms are add trips aiding Metro’s flagging ridership which is now the lowest it’s been in 19 years. Historically, the petal-peepers provide some of Metro’s busiest days with little-used stations like Arlington Cemetery seeing 60-percent trip increases, according to the Metro’s now-defunct planning blog.

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Morning Notes

Amazon Could Change Conversation — If Amazon were to establish its second headquarters in the D.C. area, it could have wide-ranging effects, including tightening the commercial real estate market and easing antitrust pressures on the company. Writes the Economist: “Having 50,000 employees going to the same country clubs and putting children in the same schools as government officials is a shrewd strategy if Amazon wants to fend off government attacks.” [Washington Business Journal, The Economist]

One Hospitalized During Hazmat Incident — An employee at a catering business was hospitalized after a reported chemical spill at a warehouse along Four Mile Run Drive. [Twitter]

Principal on Leave at Nottingham — Nottingham Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Pelosky is “currently on leave” and former Arlington Public Schools administrator Connie Skelton is taking over as acting principal, according to an email to parents from APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy. No explanation was given for Pelosky’s sudden departure.

No More Early Cherry Blossom Bloom — Initially expected to happen later this week, the peak cherry blossom bloom is, due to cold weather, now expected to occur at the end of March and possibly the beginning of April. [Capital Weather Gang, WTOP]

APS May Take Advantage of Recess Law Change — “The chairman of Arlington’s School Board appears optimistic about a change in state law that will permit school districts to squeeze more recess into the existing school day.” [InsideNova]

Photo via @thelastfc

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