Transport Panel Approves of I-66 HOT Lanes — The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted yesterday to approve the creation of high occupancy toll lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. It’s estimated that by 2040, almost twice as many users of eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway will be headed to Arlington compared to those heading to D.C. Meanwhile, two Democratic state lawmakers from Fairfax and Loudoun counties want to force the state to start planning to widen I-66 sooner rather than later. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
County Responds to I-395 HOT Lane Plan — Arlington officials say they hope to reach a “mutually beneficial outcome” to a state proposal to extend the I-395 Express lanes north to the D.C. line. The proposal calls for expanding the HOV lanes from two to three lanes while converting them to high occupancy toll lanes. The County says any proposal should “not undermine Arlington’s successful investment in congestion-reducing transit-oriented development in Pentagon City, Crystal City, or Shirlington.” [Arlington County]
APS Wants Historic Designation for Stratford on Its Terms — Arlington Public Schools says it will pursue a local historic designation for the Stratford building, current home to H-B Woodlawn and a future neighborhood middle school. However, APS wants to cut the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process, to ensure the middle school project can move forward without delays. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Marine Corps Treats Students to Holiday Celebration — The Marine Corps treated students at Barcroft Elementary to a special Christmas celebration at Henderson Hall on Monday. Students were greeted by Marines, participated in various holiday-themed arts and crafts and got a chance to talk with Santa himself. [DIVIDS]
WERA Now Broadcasting — As of Monday, Arlington’s own low-power radio station, WERA 96.7 FM, was on the air and broadcasting for the community. The station is still looking for volunteers to help with programming. [Twitter, WERA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A short, plastic visitor with blue eyes, a red suit and a long white beard has been popping up on porches around the county.
The Arlington, VA Traveling Santa began his journey shortly after Thanksgiving. Since then, he’s been visiting families throughout the county, showing up on their doorsteps unannounced. Similar to a holiday chain letter, Santa is trying to make as many stops as he can before Christmas Day.
There are rules when Santa visits, but they’re simple: he can only stay at a house one night before he must move on to visit someone else. His next destination is chosen by whomever hosted him the previous night.
Santa’s hosts are encouraged to take photos of his visit before posting them to the Facebook page where his travels are being tracked.
However, Traveling Santa isn’t just something fun for the holidays. The coordinators of the campaign — who couldn’t be reached for comment — are also asking those who interact with Santa to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.
A representative for AFAC confirmed the organizers created a personal fundraising page for the cause. On Facebook, they’ve pledged to donate $1 for every “like” the page gets by Christmas — the count was nearing 200 Wednesday morning — and have agreed to match all donations made via the page.
The Candy Cane Crawl is planned from 1-9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19.
“Thousands of participants will quench their thirst on exclusive drink deals as they explore Clarendon and celebrate the holiday season one bar at a time,” according to the event’s website.
Tickets are $20 online or $30 at the door. That gets revelers “a refillable signature Santa mug, access to some of Clarendon’s best bars, exclusive drinks & food specials and a raffle entry to win great prizes.”
Participating bars include Mad Rose Tavern, Clarendon Grill, Clarendon Ballroom, Whitlow’s, IOTA Club and Cafe, Mister Days, SoBe, American Tap Room, Spider Kelly’s, Hard Times Cafe and Hunan One.
Dems Vote For Redskins Team Name Change — The Arlington County Democratic Committee voted Wednesday to officially call on Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s “offensive” name. Some Democrats opposed the vote, suggesting that “nobody would take the resolution particularly seriously.” [InsideNova]
New Trend: Karaoke Leagues — Team karaoke leagues and costumed karaoke competitions are all the rage in Arlington, D.C. and New York City, according to a Wall Street Journal trend piece. [Wall Street Journal]
Kudos for Local Chinese Restaurant — Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center is “the best neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Washington,” according to food critic Tom Sietsema. [Washington Post]
Marymount Tree Lighting Ceremony — The public is invited to attend Marymount University’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony tonight. The ceremony will take place in front of Marymount’s Lodge building starting at 6 p.m. and will feature music from the Randolph Elementary School Choir.
Arlington Tech Co. Raises $4 Million — Rosslyn-based LiveSafe has raised $4 million in a new venture round. The company makes mobile campus safety software for universities, large companies and government agencies. [DC Inno, Washington Business Journal]
Winners of Startup Competition Announced — Arlington County has announced the winners of the U.S. round of the Dongsheng/AC Bridge Entrepreneur Competition. The global competition is a partnership between Arlington Economic Development and China-focused investment company Dao Ventures. [Arlington County]
New Patch for 74-Year-Old Marathon Runner — Retired Marine Al Richmond, who at the age of 74 recently completed his 40th Marine Corps Marathon, has been presented with a special patch at a ceremony at his Arlington home. Richmond said he plans to keep running and improve on this year’s performance. [CBS Local]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
More Metro Delays — A disabled train outside of the Farragut West Metro station produced big delays for those heading into Virginia via the Orange, Silver and Blue lines this morning. [Twitter]
Local Credit Card Holiday Spending — Arlington residents are charging an average of $718.43 on credit cards for holiday gifts this year, estimates the website Nerd Wallet. While that seems like a high number, collectively those in Arlington buying holiday gifts without using a credit card are missing out on $138,846.46 in rewards points, the website says. [Nerd Wallet]
Arlington Still Tops for Va. Tourism — Arlington remains the top tourism destination in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county attracts more than 6 million people who spend nearly $3 billion here and generate some $81 million in local taxes annually. The tourism industry accounts for about 25,000 jobs in Arlington. [Arlington County]
County Unveils New Online Calendar — Arlington County has rolled out Arlington Today, a new and improved calendar of local events. First up this morning on the calendar: a performance by The Rocking Chairs, the “in-house band” of the Lee Community and Senior Center. [Twitter]
Local Startup Raises $16 Million — Want to start a company in Arlington that can raise big bucks? Do so in the cybersecurity field. Data security software maker ThreatConnect, which recently moved from Shirlington to the Ballston area, has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. [DC Inno]
Arlington Recognized as Bike Friendly Community — Arlington has been named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” for the third time since 2007. We’re one of 75 communities in the U.S. to achieve that rating. [Arlington County]
A North Arlington house has been named one of the “15 Most Decked-Out Holiday Homes in America.”
The house, on N. Abingdon Street at 16th Street N., near Virginia Hospital Center, is a perennial draw around holiday time. It features an array of lights, wreaths, Santa Clauses and other Christmas decorations.
The website MSN.com listed the house as No. 11 on its list of the 15 most outlandishly-decorated holiday homes in the U.S.
Flickr photo by Craig Pennington
Shirlington Tree Lighting Rescheduled — Due to rain, the Shirlington tree lighting event scheduled for tonight has been rescheduled. The holiday event is now set for Monday, Dec. 7 from 6-8:30 p.m. [Facebook]
Yona Now Open in Ballston — New ramen restaurant Yona opened for lunch yesterday in Ballston, attracting a “packed house” for $15 bowls of ramen. The restaurant, at 4000 Wilson Blvd, plans to start serving dinner on Friday. [Yona, Twitter]
Pothole Attracts Attention of Pentagon Police — A pothole on a stretch of roadway near the Pentagon attracted the attention of security forces after at least three cars became disabled due to running over it. Pentagon police are sent to investigate any time a vehicle stops on the site of the highway in view of the building. In 2010 a man fired shots at the Pentagon from his car on the side of I-395. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
In actuality, the Saturday before Christmas is usually the biggest shopping day of the year. And with Cyber Monday and e-commerce encouraging online shopping, and Small Business Saturday encouraging shoppers to support local businesses, Black Friday may be losing its luster.
We wanted to check with those who are actually heading out to the malls and shopping centers today: how big are the crowds?
Alternatively, if you had to head into work today instead of shopping — like us — there’s an option for you.
School Board Compromise on Stratford History — While opposing efforts to designate the former Stratford Junior High a historic district, the Arlington School Board has adopted a renovation plan that keeps its facade intact and has set aside $250,000 for commemorative artwork and educational displays. Currently the home of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program, the school — which was the first in Virginia to integrate — is slated to become a new neighborhood middle school. [Washington Post]
Arlington Reservist Suing Benghazi Committee — Arlington resident Bradley Podliska is suing his former employer, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, claiming he was wrongly forced out of his job and then was defamed on national TV by the committee’s chair. Podliska, an Air Force reservist, says the committee was too hyper-focused on pinning blame on Hillary Clinton. At the same time, he says he was reprimanded for looking into the post-Benghazi talking points of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. [Courthouse News Service]
APS to Hold Community Budget Meetings — Arlington Public Schools will be holding three community meetings in December to gather public feedback ahead of the creation of its proposed FY 2017 budget. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington’s Secret Santa Program — Arlington County is again organizing a Secret Santa program, which will distribute gifts to more than 1,000 needy individuals in the Arlington community this holiday season. Residents, churches and school groups who’d like to participate are encouraged to donate $25 gift cards to local grocery, drug, and clothing stores. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
From grocery stores to community organizations, Arlington residents have a number of options for finding the right tree.
Local Christmas tree sales aren’t particularly well-publicized online, so for many residents the strategy is to go to where they bought their tree last year.
Here are some places in Arlington County that have been reliable vendors over the years from which to pick up your annual fir.
- The Optimist Club of Arlington, 2213 N. Glebe Road
The annual tree sale in the Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway will open this Saturday. Its hours are from 2-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12-8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 830 23rd Street S.
The Knights of Columbus will sell trees at this church near Crystal City from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends. An opening date wasn’t specified, but the sale will run through Dec. 20 or until the trees are gone, whichever comes first.
- Cathedral of St. Thomas More, 3901 N. Cathedral Lane
Another local Knights of Columbus organization will be selling trees in Arlington this season. Signs for the sale are up along Glebe Road, across from the Mr. Wash car wash. Last year, the sale was open seven days a week, from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends.
- Boy Scout Troop 162, 6000 Wilson Blvd
In previous years, this sale began during the first week of December and sold out in less than two weeks. The troop’s sale does have a Facebook page to follow for updates.
- Food Star parking lot, 950 S. George Mason Drive
The Arlington South Lions Club has sold Christmas trees here for years, typically from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.
- Unleashed by Petco parking lot, 5400 Lee Highway
Christmas trees are sold from this lot along N. Harrison Street, along with other seasonal items, like fireworks around the Fourth of July and pumpkins around Halloween.
- Whole Foods, 2700 Wilson Blvd
If you’re in Clarendon or Courthouse and on the car-free diet, this is the place to go. The trees tend to be on the smaller side, which presumably makes carrying them home easier.
- Local farmers markets
Local farmers markets often stock Christmas trees, some of which are grown right here in Virginia. Here’s a list of farmers markets in Arlington.
Other popular locations just outside of Arlington include the Home Depot in Falls Church, Greenstreet Gardens on W. Braddock Road near Fairlington and Merrifield Garden Center on Lee Highway in Fairfax County.
Know of any other Christmas tree sales in the area? Let us know in the comments.
A photo went viral this week, showing a sign at a Nordstrom store.
“We won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 27,” the sign said. “Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”
Never mind that the photo was from 2009, it brings up a discussion-worthy point: has Christmas creep gone too far? Should other retailers hold off until after Thanksgiving to start putting up Christmas decorations?
Over at the Nordstrom store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City yesterday, there were no signs of Christmas decorations — and no signs of explanatory signs — inside. Outside of the department store was another story: the future home of the mall’s Santa Claus already had decorated trees along with red carpets and rope lines, waiting for Saint Nick to arrive along with adoring throngs of youngsters and parents.
So which would you prefer? A holly, jolly November, or some holiday restraint?
Now that the Christmas season is over, Arlington is once again offering residents a chance to turn their trees into mulch.
Starting Monday, Jan. 5, those with curbside trash collection can set their coniferous trees on the curb next to their trash can to be picked up. The trees will be picked up on the regular trash day until Jan. 16, after which they will still be picked up, just not recycled.
All trees must be cleared of lights, ornaments and all other decorations, as well as taken out of their stands, before being placed on the curb by 6:00 a.m. on trash day.
Those without curbside trash pickup can call (703) 228-6570 to schedule an appointment to bring their trees to the Solid Waste Bureau, along with proof or Arlington residence.
The trees will be recycled and turned into mulch, which is available for free for Arlington residents.
It’s Christmas Eve, and very little is stirring in Arlington, as 2 in 5 are out of town and very few of those remaining are at work.
Most of the activity around town can be found at the mall, as procrastinators wrap up their Christmas shopping.
On this Dec. 24, ARLnow.com again wishes you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday. This has been a volatile year of change in Arlington, but regardless of your stance on those changes, Christmas is a time we can come together and be thankful for the the great community we have.
We’ll see you back here on Friday as we shake off the eggnog hangover and get back to work.
Four out of ten D.C. area residents — nearly 2.5 million people — are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the 13-day holiday travel period around Christmas and New Year’s, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
That’s up 3.3 percent from 2013.
Most of those travelers will be taking to the roads — 91 percent — while 5 percent will be flying and 4 percent will be traveling via other modes of transportation, AAA said. The busiest day on the roads: today, Dec. 23.
The weather is already making travel more difficult. Departure delays ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours, due to fog, are being reported for flights going to eastern seaboard cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
While the 24th and 25th are expected to be lighter travel days, it’s yet to be seen what impacts the expected wind and rain may have.
Locally, forecasters say to expect the fog to linger through this evening. From the National Weather Service:
… PATCHY DENSE FOG INTO EARLY AFTERNOON…
PATCHY DENSE FOG WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP ACROSS PORTIONS OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA LATE THIS MORNING. LOW CLOUDS ACROSS THE AREA WILL CONTINUE TO LOWER IN HEIGHT TOWARD THE SURFACE… REDUCING VISIBILITIES TO NEAR OR BELOW A QUARTER MILE IN LOCALIZED AREAS.
IF TRAVELING… USE EXTRA CAUTION AND BE PREPARED FOR QUICKLY REDUCED VISIBILITIES IN FOG.
Photo courtesy @SBDSLLC
All of the courts in the Arlington County Justice Center will be closed tomorrow, Dec. 24, and the DMV select will close tomorrow at noon.
Arlington Public Schools will also be closed on Dec. 24, and students won’t return to school until Monday, Jan. 5.
All county community centers and recreational classes are cancelled for Christmas and the day after, but parks grounds remain open at normal hours.
Parking will not be enforced on Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.
Those with Thursday trash and recycling collection will have their scheduled pushed back a day, and should put their cans on the side of the road by 6:00 a.m. on Friday. Those with Friday pickup will be on their normal schedule in all likelihood — because of the added workload, some houses might not see their trash picked up until 5:00 p.m. Saturday, according to the county.
Only ART buses 41 and 51 will be operating on Christmas Day, on their Sunday schedules. Along with 41 and 51, routes 51, 77 and 87 will also operate on Sunday schedules on friday.
There will be no parking enforcement on either day. Regular services and schedules resume on Saturday, and offices will reopen on Monday.
Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.