Arlington, VA

If you have a Christmas tree in your house — a real one, like 44% of respondents to a recent ARLnow poll — you’ll need to keep it watered for at least the next week.

Arlington County is not beginning its annual Christmas tree collection until Monday, Jan. 4. The two-week curbside collection will run through Friday, Jan. 15.

Residential waste collection customers — primarily those in single-family homes — will have trees collected on their regular trash collection day. Residents of apartments, condos and townhomes can drop trees off at the county’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington.

Collected trees will be turned into mulch and reused throughout the county.

More from the county website:

Trees collected by the County the first two full weeks of January are turned into mulch available from County facilities.

From Jan. 4 through Jan. 15, place trees at curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing ALL decorations, nails, stands. Do not place trees in plastic bags.

After Jan. 15, Christmas trees are handled at curbside as part of regular year-round yard waste collection. Make sure the tree is bare and ready for composting. Trees over 8-feet long will need to be dismantled.

Tree Drop-Off

Residents without regular curbside pickup, including those living in townhomes, apartments and condominiums, can bring Christmas trees to the Solid Waste Bureau’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington. For safe dropoff, call 703-228-5000 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to schedule a weekday appointment. You will need proof of residence in Arlington to drop off.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Va. Supreme Court Passes on Pot Prosecution Case — “The Virginia Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Arlington’s chief prosecutor to rein in judges who are skeptical of her refusal to prosecute marijuana possession. But the court did not resolve the conflict, saying it could not weigh in because it had not been asked to consider any specific case.” [Washington Post]

Big Response to Mailbox — “‘We’ve collected at least probably 500 letters in the two weeks that we’ve had the [Santa] mailbox out,’ Rachael Tolman, the Park Manager at Gulf Branch Park said. ‘It’s a lot of letters.’ The lists some children put in the mailbox looked different, with requests for masks and good health.” [WUSA 9]

Nonprofit Merger Complete — “Bridges to Independence, a Northern Virginia provider of housing and vital services for at-risk families and individuals, has finalized its merger with the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corp., a community-based non-profit with a mission to address the health, education, financial empowerment and social service needs of people living in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood.” [InsideNova]

Pedestrian Struck in Ballston — “Police and medics on scene of a pedestrian struck by a driver in front of the Ballston Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Road. So far, the victim’s injuries sound minor.” [Twitter]

Holiday Pop-Ups in National Landing — “As part of National Landing’s mission to activate public spaces, the BID has unveiled ‘Turn Up the Love,’ a winterlong campaign featuring a series of engaging outdoor pop-ups. These festive installations include a larger-than-life boombox adorned with thousands of colorful ornaments, three shareable photo frames and even more surprises to be announced after the holidays.” [National Landing BID]

Nearby: BB Gun Shootings in FC — “Police investigated calls of vandalism and found a teen who confessed to at least 50 incidents of shooting vehicles and people. Some victims have been identified, but police believe there may be more.” [City of Falls Church]

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) This year, Arlingtonians spread Christmas cheer in new ways to bring hope to people virtually or from a distance.

Choir directors at Arlington Public Schools and Bishop O’Connell High School spent hundreds of hours stitching together student videos to create virtual Christmas concerts. A troop of Brownie Scouts virtually judged a gingerbread contest for folks at a local retirement home. And Santa is making special stops in Arlington in his pickup truck, visiting with children from a distance.

Bishop O’Connell choir director Kyra Stahr burned the midnight candle to publish videos to replace the Christmas concert, which is normally the most well-attended performance, she said.

“I feel like I got more creative in how to make that excitement and cheer possible,” she said, adding that she and her students donned Christmas sweaters and watched all the performances on Zoom.

“It worked out better than I could’ve hoped for,” DJO choir student and junior Tommy Green said. “It was a nice way to exit the year.”

Fellow junior Melanie Greig said “it was almost like we were actually singing together in a concert.”

Meanwhile, Glebe Elementary student and Brownie Scout Leah Meder virtually judged a gingerbread decorating contest at the Sunrise Senior Living facility near the school, on N. Glebe Road, along with other members of Troop 60095. From 11 participants, the young judges awarded the most festive, most creative and most delicious-looking houses, and also created a special holiday greeting for the residents.

“I still felt the spark of holiday spirit when we did this online,” said Meder, who is eight years old. “Since [the residents] are living away from people they know, and can only see them a couple times a year, they can probably have more holiday spirit.”

The festivity creativity in Arlington extends to visits by the jolly one himself.

This afternoon (Wednesday), Santa is parading his sleigh — a converted pickup truck — through Arlington neighborhoods from Foxcroft Heights to Columbia Forest, the final route after two mobile Santa visits through Lyon Park and Ashton Heights.

“It’s a tough year for everybody,” said Lyon Park resident Paul Showalter, who is playing the role of Santa. “It’s really fun to see the faces of the little kids as they see Santa drive up in his sleigh.”

This morning (Wednesday), Showalter said he made a special delivery to a boy named Charlie, who had asked Santa for boxes, thread and tape for Christmas. Neighbors and Glebe Appliance donated the boxes, and Charlie will use the supplies to make a British fleet ship.

Also spreading joy is the Yorktown High School choir, which sent the musical videos it produced to faculty, friends and family, reaching an even greater audience this year.

“These videos are my Christmas gifts,” said Jocelyn Mullins, the Yorktown choir director, who directed renditions of “Holiday Road” and “The Sleigh.”

“That’s how it’s keeping my holidays alive,” she said.

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Christmas and the New Year are coming up, and with the holidays come a number of closures and changes in Arlington.

“Arlington County Government offices and services will be closed on Thurs., Dec. 24 and Fri., Dec. 25 for the Christmas holiday, and Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day,” according to the county website.

Arlington libraries will also be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and parking meters will not be enforced on those days.

Additionally, residential trash and recycling collection on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 will be shifted to Saturday, one day later. ART buses will operate on a modified Sunday schedule on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Morning Notes

Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]

Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]

Wreaths on the Way — The wreaths for this weekend’s Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery are currently making their way to Arlington from Maine via convoy. [Twitter, Facebook]

Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]

Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]

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It has been a boom year for live Christmas trees.

Various news outlets, including the New York Times, report that sales of Christmas trees — the real ones — have soared amid the pandemic, leading to shortages in some areas. Those stuck at home, it seems, have taken to holiday decorating as a way to enliven one’s living space and spend some quality indoor time.

Despite the good news for Christmas tree farmers, the overall Christmas decorating trend has been moving toward artificial trees, the sales of which seem destined to overtake their live counterparts.

Real trees may look pretty and smell nice, but the convenience factor of artificial trees — and the long-term cost savings — has led people to increasingly opt for the latter.

Which, if any, are you putting up in the living room this year?

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Dorsey’s Bankruptcy Case Dismissed — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, whose ethical and financial difficulties have tangled him in a web of false statements over the past year, fraudulently misrepresented his assets while filing for bankruptcy, a federal court ruled Friday… It was ‘an act of overt misrepresentation,’ [bankruptcy trustee] Thomas P. Gorman told the court at a hearing on Thursday, and ‘misconduct . . . so over the line’ that punishment was warranted.” [Washington Post]

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips — “ACPD wants you to have a happy and safe holiday season. While many are choosing to shop online this year, those shopping in-store are encouraged to be mindful of these safety tips.” [Twitter]

Event for Military Families Today — “An annual Winter Wonderland for Military Families hosted by a former NFL player and his wife will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma will hold a drive-thru version of the event that provides toys and holiday cheer to military kids and families on Dec. 7 at a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia through their nonprofit, Yellow Ribbons United.” [Radio.com]

Santa Visit Still on This Weekend — “Santa Claus has paid a visit to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department every year for over a century and he’s not going let the coronavirus pandemic force him to break that streak. In the interest of public safety, the jolly old elf will be meeting children outside this year in the parking lot of Cherrydale Baptist Church, which is located at 3910 Lorcom Lane.” [Patch]

More on CaBi Station at DCA — “Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.” [WTOP]

Gunston Coordinator Honored — “Shantha Smith, an education coordinator at Gunston Middle School, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education by the state government. Awards were presented Dec. 3 in Richmond, and were named after a pioneering African-American educator.” [InsideNova]

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Kids who want to talk to Santa Claus can drop off letters at the Gulf Branch Nature Center through Dec. 14.

For the first time, the park is collecting letters to send to St. Nick, rather than facilitating a weekend of in-person visits with the jolly one himself. In non-pandemic years, Santa visits typically drew up to 300 kids and families, park manager Rachael Tolman said.

So far this year, about a dozen kids come each day to drop off letters, she said.

Collections will end on Dec. 14, a Monday, to allow the snail mail ample time to reach the North Pole before Santa gets too busy, she said. Kids are encouraged to include their return address so he can respond with a postcard, and to bring canned goods that will go to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“Due to the pandemic, Santa won’t be visiting, so he very kindly let us set up a mailbox,” she said. “We tried to come up with other ways to have Santa in person, but we figured that this would be the best option because everything is so up in the air from week to week.”

A mailbox is not the same as an in-person visit, but it feels vintage — “a little old school,” Tolman said.

The park manager said she “absolutely” remembers writing to Santa as a kid.

“I can’t remember what I asked for, but I remember asking about Mrs. Claus and the reindeer, and I would leave carrots out for reindeer — along with the milk and cookies — because they were doing all the work,” she said.

Tolman said she has received many emails thanking her for the mailbox from people who had always brought their kids to see Santa, and this year, were not sure what to tell them.

“They were so relieved that we put the mailbox out, so that their kids could keep the tradition of coming,” she said.

Visitors can also check out the cabin, decorated for the holidays.

“We’re glad to keep the magic of the season as best we can,” she said.

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Even though the Christmas tree lighting, Santa Claus’ arrival, face painting and hot cocoa can’t be enjoyed in person this year, the Miracle on 23rd Street holiday tradition is still happening.

The event has been hosted at 750 23rd Street S. in Crystal City for more than 50 years, in front of what is now Melwood, the employment and job training nonprofit for people of differing abilities.

This year, however, families are being asked to stay home to virtually watch the lighting of the Christmas tree at 6:45 p.m. tonight (Friday). They can enhance the experience with a $10 “Miracle on 23rd Street In A Box” kit for kids.

“The box includes supplies to decorate cookies, make a wreath and reindeer food,” the organization said. “It can be picked up in a contactless process (after registering with Melwood), and kids can follow along with activities with special guests on its Facebook page.”

Santa Claus is still making a drive-by appearance, too, and will be escorted by the Arlington auxiliary police and firefighters from Fire Station 5.

“If you live near 23rd St. and S. Grant Ave in Arlington, you can expect to see Santa in your neighborhood between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.,” Melwood said.

Locals are being discouraged from trying to view the tree-lighting in person, however.

“While we won’t be able to come together in person for this time-honored tradition, Melwood will keep the Miracle tradition alive in a new way,” the organization said. “In compliance with Arlington County COVID-19 guidelines, Melwood is actively discouraging our neighbors from gathering near the campus for the tree lighting. We look forward to next year when we will be able to come together to continue this holiday tradition.”

Images via Melwood

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Yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Americans should avoid travelling during the holiday season, but get tested if they do travel.

“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” said the CDC’s incident manager for the COVID-19 pandemic, as quoted by USA Today.

The federal agency has additional guidance for family holiday gatherings on its website.

Despite the CDC’s advice, many will still travel, gather and celebrate. Today we’re wondering how many Arlingtonians are planning to head out of town for Hanukkah, Christmas or the new year.

Are you planning to travel this holiday season?

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Day Laborer Site Now Closed — “Although not unexpected, mid-November nonetheless brought something of an end of an era to the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, better known as SEEC. The pavilion area in Shirlington that the organization had used since 2003 to connect day-laborers with contractors and homeowners who sought their services has been fenced off in preparation for changes to Jennie Dean Park, where it is located.” [InsideNova]

Tonight: Outdoor Art in Crystal City — “Walk along Crystal Drive on December 2nd from 6-9PM to see the words of Luisa A. Igloria, Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia projected onto the facade of 2011 Crystal Drive as the opening installation of Arlington Art’s Visual Verse. Their work will be brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.” [National Landing BID]

Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cuts — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “The proposed WMATA budget cuts would be apocalyptic for Metro service and devastate its workforce. This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen, and Congress can prevent it by passing a new aid package. WMATA is not alone in its massive funding shortfall, which is a direct result of the pandemic. Cuts like this will hit across the country without robust aid for state and local governments and specific targeted funding for transit.” [Press Release]

ABC Store Coming to Pentagon Row — “It’s official: you will be able to buy booze in the former local Bloomberg campaign office in Pentagon City.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Tree Lighting — “Thanks @ABC7Kidd for starting the countdown at tonight’s neighborhood tree lighting!” [Twitter]

Library Director’s Xmas Playlist — “For the past 13 years, I have published a ‘Too Cool for Yule’ playlist, as my love letter to the County and the people we serve. And while (sadly) Spotify has replaced the cassette tape, making the process easier, like much of 2020, this playlist was more difficult than ever to create.” [Arlington Public Library]

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