If you bought a Christmas tree this year, don’t throw out it out just yet (unless it’s dangerously dry).
Starting Monday, Arlington County will begin its annual curbside Christmas tree collection. Tree pick-up for Arlington residential waste collection customers — primarily those in single-family homes — will go through Friday, Jan. 13.
“Place trees at [the] curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing all decorations, nails [and] stands,” per the county website. “Do not place trees in plastic bags.”
After Jan. 13, county waste removal services will handle Christmas trees as part of Arlington’s year-round yard-waste collection.
“Make sure the tree is bare and ready for composting,” the announcement said. “Trees over 8 feet long will need to be dismantled.”
Residents of apartments, condos and townhomes can drop trees off at the county’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington. Those who plan to go to the yard will need proof of residence in Arlington to drop off their trees.
Trees will ultimately be converted into mulch. Residents may pick up the mulch for free, or have it delivered for a fee, from county facilities in Shirlington and Yorktown.
Greenery aside, Arlington also has a guide for reducing trash during the holidays, including what can and cannot be recycled. Some things that don’t qualify for county recycling — including broken twinkle lights, electronics and batteries — can be dropped off at MOM’s Organic Market on N. Veitch Street.
The ARLnow team wishes you and yours a Merry Christmas.
On this cold morning we hope you’re enjoying the warmth of family and other loved ones, whether they’re there with you or at a distance. And whether your celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or none of the above, we hope you’re enjoying the spirit of the season.
Our normally-scheduled news coverage will return on Tuesday for a shortened, pre-New Year’s week. See you then.
We’re three days away from Christmas and in the midst of Hanukkah — and holiday travel is in full swing, storm and all.
While the winter storm is causing travel havoc, illnesses are also disrupting holiday plans. Covid is on an upswing locally while, at the same time, numerous other viruses — including but not limited to flu and RSV — are circulating.
From Axios yesterday:
“This year what you’re seeing is a true rebound of flu-like illnesses,” said Manoj Gandhi, senior medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “It’s certainly bad.”
While much has been made of the so-called tripledemic of flu, RSV and COVID, but there’s actually more of a “septo-demic,” said Peter
Hotez, dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, in an interview posted last week with the American Medical Association.
That counts para influenza, rhinovirus, metapneumovirus and pneumococcus as part of the mix, he said.
“They’re working in different combinations and causing a lot of kids to be admitted to the hospital, as well as seniors. This is accounting for a big surge in hospitalizations,” Hotez said.
As of Wednesday, Arlington County was still within CDC’s “low” Covid level, but a flip to “medium” could be imminent. The number of weekly reported cases per 100,000 people is 170, below the “medium” threshold of 200. Weekly Covid hospital admissions per 100,000 people, meanwhile, are at 9.2, just shy of the threshold of 10.
The average daily case rate in Arlington, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data, rose to 63 yesterday amid 110 new reported cases.
Anecdotally, that case rate — which is based on positive cases reported to VDH and excludes at-home testing not otherwise reported to health authorities — feels low. Talk to Arlington residents, especially those with kids in school or daycare, and close Covid contacts abound.
Likewise, many seem to be in the middle of or getting over a cold, a case of the flu, a sinus infection or another ailment. Even among the nominally healthy there are coughs and runny noses.
So today we’re wondering: how many of you are currently sick? And have your holiday plans been disrupted due to illness?
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A major storm affecting most of the eastern U.S. and midwest is set to ramp up tomorrow, making for hazardous holiday travel.
Ahead of the storm, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation sent a clear message this afternoon: start your trip now, if you can.
The storm will mostly bring the D.C. area copious amounts of rain starting Thursday morning, along with gusty winds and bitter cold temperatures on Friday. Frozen precipitation beyond some possible snow flurries is not expected in Arlington, but points west and north will likely see snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Along I-81 and the Blue Ridge, the storm is expected to be a high-impact event, and travel on Thursday is “not advised,” VDOT says.
More from a VDOT press release, below.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is advising motorists traveling in and through Virginia to adjust their holiday travel ahead of winter weather expected in parts of the Commonwealth beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Friday.
Travelers are advised to shift holiday travel to Wednesday if possible. Travel on Thursday is not advised, especially through the western regions of Virginia along the Interstate 81 corridor, to avoid potentially hazardous conditions created by forecasted winter weather.
According to current forecasts, wintry precipitation is expected to arrive as soon as 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21 in the southwestern regions of the state, and move northward through the western third of the state, and into portions of northern Virginia through Thursday. Periods of heavy snow are expected along the northern sections of I-81 and the mountain passes including Interstate 64 over Afton Mountain and Rt. 33 between Standardsville and Harrisonburg early Thursday. Temperatures are expected to drop rapidly through the day on Friday leading to the potential for refreeze in areas where the pavement remains wet.
VDOT crews are pretreating roadways and interstates today in anticipation of the weather event.
With extreme low temperatures expected to move in Friday, motorists, if traveling, should pack an emergency kit and blankets, and have mobile devices fully charged in the event of a breakdown or emergency.
“Please continue to monitor forecasts closely as forecasts can improve or worsen quickly,” VDOT said in a separate advisory. “Drivers should expect roads to be impacted Thursday and Friday… Treat anything that looks wet as if it could be icy, especially bridges, ramps, overpasses, and elevated surfaces. If there is snow or ice on roadways, travel is hazardous.”
The transportation agency is currently pretreating roads and “will begin deploying trucks early Thursday morning to treat roads as needed.”
“Adjust travel plans and avoid all nonessential travel during the height of the storm,” VDOT said “This helps to avoid deteriorating conditions and to allow crews room to work.”
A Flood Watch, meanwhile, has been issued for the D.C. area ahead of the rain.
322 PM EST Wed Dec 21 2022
…FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT…
* WHAT…Flooding caused by excessive rainfall is possible.
* WHERE…DC and portions of Maryland and northern Virginia, including the following areas: District of Columbia. In Maryland, Anne Arundel, Cecil, Central and Southeast Howard, Central and Southeast Montgomery, Prince Georges, Southeast Harford and Southern Baltimore. In northern Virginia, Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park.
* WHEN…From Thursday morning through late Thursday night.
* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…
– Moderate rainfall is expected Thursday into Thursday evening, with rainfall totals of one to two inches. This may lead to isolated instances of flooding, especially in urban and poor drainage areas.
You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.
VDOT released the following timeline of expected conditions in Northern Virginia and western zones through Christmas.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Two weeks before Christmas, someone has apparently stolen a nativity scene from a church in the Barcroft neighborhood.
But the pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church (825 S. Taylor Street), Wayne Fredericksen, is turning the other cheek.
“My focus is fresh hope and fresh encouragement,” he said. “This is where my head and heart are going, to remind us of the Bible story and see how it provided hope and encouragement before the birth and also still for us today.”
He was still processing the news when ARLnow spoke with him Monday morning. Fredericksen says he wished whoever stole the scene, if the intent was to resell, would instead connect with the resources that the church support, including Path Forward, Bridges to Independence and Arlington Food Assistance Center.
“Since we don’t know the circumstances or the situation, we wish the best for that person,” he said. “We’re sad they thought that was an action we thought was good for them. We wish them good in other ways and we move forward in forgiveness.”
Police were called but do not have much to go on at this point.
“Between December 11 at 12 a.m. and December 12 at 12 a.m., the unknown suspect(s) stole an outdoor nativity set,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow via email. “There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.”
Fredericksen called the loss of the scene, which was a gift to the church, “disappointing.” He says the decoration contributes to the communal celebration of Christmas and reminds people to support the ministerial work of houses of worship as well as local nonprofits that help people in need.
“It can feel overwhelming, but when you see how many people are at work trying to do good, it doesn’t take a lot to come alongside and support in some way, whether it’s with a gift, or a gift of time,” Fredericksen said.
A “singing tree” is set to bring holiday cheer to Ballston.
Next week the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is debuting the “Ballston Singing Tree.”
That’s 12 strands of 1,200 sound-responsive lights that “[come] alive as harmonies and melodies grace its branches” draped across the central tree in Welburn Square right off N. Taylor Street.
To celebrate, Ballston BID is hosting an event at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at the square. It’s set to include performances by the Arlington Children’s Chorus and local musicians Kara & Matty D as well as food from nearby We, The Pizza, a “Jingle Bar” for adults, and a free hot cocoa bar for kids.
And, of course, the lighting of the tree. More technically, the singing tree will use microphones to turn sounds into a show.
“Microphones capture audio input from the environment around the system, which interprets that data into colors and patterns to display throughout the tree,” says a press release.
The software was designed specifically for Ballston by Canadian developer Limbic Media. Mastercard is listed as a sponsor for the event.
“We are so grateful to our partner and fantastic neighborhood steward, Mastercard, for their generosity and for helping us celebrate this wonderful time of the year,” BID chief Tina Leone said in the press release. “Supporting local Arlington organizations and Ballston businesses is the most special way to give back, and we encourage folks to come down to the tree lighting, enjoy some Christmas carols, try their hand at activating the tree, and enjoy all Ballston has to offer!”
The hope is that this will be the start of an annual tradition, per Ballston BID.
The “Singing Tree” will be in Welburn Square from Dec. 14 through the new year.
‘Tis the season to get tipsy with cozy cocktails and two-buck beers.
“‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is the latest popup in B Live’s completely decked-out space, fit with sparkling light displays, festive garland and life-sized holiday fan favorites like the Grinch, Santa Claus and Nutcrackers,” a PR rep for B Live said. The venue is owned by local nightlife duo Mike and Christal Bramson.
Passersby can see the spot’s windows painted with beloved Christmas characters playing instruments — in a tribute to the music scene for which Whitlow’s was known.
Inside, B Live is offering weekly holiday-themed specials, including Christmas karaoke on Tuesdays, a “Santa Mug Night” every Thursday with $2.50 beers and live entertainment every weekend. The pop-up runs through mid-January, meaning guests can live by Buddy the Elf’s code to “treat every day like Christmas.”
The bar is making spirits bright with holiday-themed drinks, too. For an extra-cozy night out, guests can order the “Santa Baby,” a boozy hot chocolate topped with a torched marshmallow.
If your heart hasn’t shrunk three sizes, there is a “Patron Christmas Tree” cocktail tower that serves four.
Only Santa will know if you were naughty and kept all of the tequila for yourself.
It’s holiday time and the lights are coming on in Arlington.
Over the next several weeks, a slew of tree lightings, Santa visits, markets, and holiday celebrations are happening around the county. That’s in addition to last night’s Shirlington tree lighting and the Santa photo shoots already underway at the Pentagon City mall.
Next week, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is set to turn on the lights at its annual tree lighting ceremony, which now takes place at Central Place Plaza near the Metro station. It’s happening on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. and will be aired on ABC 7 with a countdown from local reporter Kidd O’Shea.
There will be musical performances from Cherry Blossom Organ Trio and HB Woodlawn’s Choir, as well as raffle prizes, holiday cocktails, free photos, and a coat drive benefiting PathForward.
Other upcoming Rosslyn holiday activities include:
- Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.: Rosslyn Cinema featuring”Elf” at Bennet Park Atrium
- Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.: Santa Paws Happy Hour at Central Place Plaza
- Dec. 10 & 11 at 11 a.m.: Holiday Market at Central Place Plaza
Santa is making his way to Ballston, meanwhile, and will be taking holiday photos with well-behaved children every weekend until Christmas starting this Saturday, Dec. 3, as well as the entire week between Dec. 19 and Dec. 23.
Santa will be stationed on the first floor of the mall near the Wilson Blvd street entrance.
Additional Ballston holiday events include:
- Dec. 3, 10, & 17 at 2 p.m.: Holiday Tunes & Treats at Ballston Quarter
- Dec. 7 at 5 p.m.: Ballston Sip & Jingle at the Ellipse Building at 4350 Fairfax Drive
- Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.: Barkin’ Holiday Bash at Ballston Quarter
The annual Peppermint Mocha Competition put on by the National Landing BID returns this weekend as well.
On Saturday, Dec. 3 starting at 11 a.m., three local businesses — The Freshman, Commonwealth Joe, and Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique — will compete to see which has the best peppermint mocha.
Other holiday activities in Crystal City and Pentagon City include:
- Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.: Miracle on 23rd Street at 750 23rd Street South
- Dec. 3 at 10 a.m.: National Landing Holiday Market at 556 22nd Street S.
- Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.: Wreath Making Workshop at 241 18th Street S.
- Dec. 14 at 2 p.m.: Gingerbread House Making Workshop at 241 18th Street S.
Just before Christmas, Santa Claus and his helpers are coming to town, on a fire engine instead of an eight reindeer-powered sleigh.
From Dec. 20-23, Saint Nick and his elves will visit Arlingtonians who live near the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department station, located near Fairfax Drive and Langston Blvd at 6950 Little Falls Road. He will be riding a decked-out reserve fire engine, dubbed the “Santamobile” and decorated by the department.
“During each night’s approximately three-hour run, Santa’s helpers will be handing out candy canes — and, to canine friends, dog biscuits, but only if they’ve been ‘good,'” says Santamobile coordinator Jenny Quinn. “Anyone who wishes to receive these treats are encouraged to greet Santa’s helpers at the curb. This provides the safest conditions for Santa’s helpers and ensures they have an opportunity to visit the largest number of our friends and neighbors.”
The ride through Arlington will follow a five-day run through the City of Falls Church from Dec. 15-19.
Quinn notes that routes occasionally change because of road conditions, including parking, traffic, construction and to ensure Santa’s safety. Exact routes can be found on the department’s Facebook page, where people can also follow along via Gylmpse to know where the truck is each evening, Quinn said.
If inclement weather is in the forecast, the Santamobile would be canceled for that evening “for the safety of Santa, his elves and all of residents who come out to see Santa,” she said.
The fire department will make “every effort” to update the Facebook page with any revisions to Santa’s schedule, Quinn said. She asks that people email [email protected] for more information and the latest routes rather than calling the station.
The tradition of escorting Santa Claus through the streets of Falls Church and Arlington dates back to the 1960s, she says. The bedecked fire engine would make appearances for on or two nights, after dark, at random — also known as “wildcatting.”
“As more people began asking for ‘Santa and the fire engine,’ the [FCVFD Board of Trustees] decided in 1981 to formalize the program and standardize neighborhood routes,” Quinn said. “We have been driving some of the Arlington neighborhoods closest to the station in Falls Church from the beginning.”
Today, the FCVFD volunteers don’t fight fires but they do provide ambulance support for the professional Arlington County firefighters who battle blazes in the little city. The volunteer-run station maintains a reserve fire engine, primarily to serve as the Santamobile.
Quinn says the reactions of kids and adults alike remind volunteers why they keep up the yearly tradition.
“I can’t tell you how many elderly people came out of their homes, stood at the door, and seemed like a five year old kid,” said Quinn, who dressed as an elf last year. “It brings a lot of joy to people… A lot of times the adults seem as excited as the kids.”
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means it’s Christmas tree time here in Arlington.
As in past years, there are a number of tree sales going on in the county this holiday season. In fact, there appears to be more this year than in 2021. Many sales begin this weekend, right after the Thanksgiving holiday.
However, that perfect pine may cost you more this year.
But the group is cautioning locals that the price of a Christmas tree will be higher this year compared to last year due to rising operating costs and inflation.
“This will remain a challenging year for us, as have many other tree lot operators, as we have experienced almost a doubling of the wholesale costs from our suppliers due to the continuing Christmas tree shortage and the impact of inflation on shipping charges,” a spokesperson wrote ARLnow in an email. “While we realize this may reduce the amount we can raise from the sale, we felt it important to reopen the lot this year, as we’ve heard from many of our customers over the last few years that they miss their family tradition of heading down to the lot to get their tree.”
While not every tree sale posts prices in advance, at least two other local sales have appeared to have raised tree prices by about 15% compared to 2021.
Below are the sales that ARLnow has confirmed are happening this year.
Starts: Friday, Nov. 25 at noon
Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road)
The lot will be open every day of the week until all the trees are sold out. All profits go towards Arlington youth sports and academic activities.
Starts: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 9 a.m.
Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street)
There will be 300 trees for sale this year. Pre-sale is open now, with pick-up at the church lot. The trees come from Canada and the six to seven-foot trees cost $85 this year, a ten-dollar increase from last year. All proceed are going to Arlington Thrive. This sale has been held annually since 2007.
Starts: Friday, Nov. 25 at noon
Mount Olivet United Methodist Church (1500 N. Glebe Road)
The boys and girls of Scout Troop 167 are hosting a sale near Ballston again this year. It’s being held Thanksgiving weekend, on Nov. 25, 26, and 27. The sale starts at noon on Friday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. Saturday. It will go to 8 p.m. each night. The next weekend (Dec. 2, 3, and 4) are backup dates in case of inclement weather. Pre-sales are being accepted.
Christmas items are now on display at the Pentagon City Costco.
Reader John Antonelli sent the photo above, which is perhaps jarring given the current beautiful, 80 degree weather — and the fact that many of us have not even started thinking about Halloween.
“Ho ho ho,” Antonelli said in his email.
But perhaps Christmas items in September are fine. Maybe there’s a subset of the population that appreciates getting to prepare for the holiday more than three months in advance.
Which of the following do you most associate with?