Arlington County is up for an award honoring it as a top meeting and convention location in the southern United States.
Event planners from across the country nominated Arlington and the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service for a 2017 Reader’s Choice Award from ConventionSouth magazine.
The county and its tourism authority are one of 47 nominations in Virginia and D.C., alongside hotels, convention centers, other jurisdictions and tourism authorities. Also nominated from Arlington, but separately from the county as a whole, is The Westin Crystal City hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway).
The publication focuses on places to host events in the south’s 16 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia & D.C. and West Virginia). The annual Reader’s Choice Award recognizes destinations, tourism authorities, hotels and meeting spaces.
An online vote will determine award winners by state, and is open through Sunday, October 15. Winners will be announced in ConventionSouth’s December issue.
More from an Arlington County press release:
With 44 hotels, more than 11,000 sleeping rooms, and nearly 320,000 square feet of meeting space, Arlington offers meeting and group guests monumental views of the nation’s capital, rich history and thriving neighborhoods like Ballston, Crystal City, Rosslyn, and others. Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and conveniently central in the capital region, Arlington has hotel rates averaging 20 percent lower than those at downtown D.C. properties. Its unique combination of national history and local flavor also means unexpected fun for meetings and groups.
Crystal City Hotel Worker Sexually Assaulted — A female employee of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City was sexually assaulted Sunday morning, according to police. A 34-year-old man from Bahrain was arrested following the assault. [WJLA, Fox 5]
Arlington Man Beaten to Death in Brooklyn — An Arlington resident was beaten to death by a 69-year-old man in his Brooklyn home, in what’s being described as a case of self-defense during a home invasion. Rodolfo Rosa, 48, of Arlington, Va., died after suffering severe head trauma during the alleged break-in and the struggle that ensued. [New York Post, New York Post]
ACFD to Hold Fire Camp for Girls — Thursday is the first day of Arlington County’s annual all-girls firefighting camp, which “introduces teens to the male-dominated career of firefighting” and encourages them to pursue a career as a firefighter or paramedic. [Washington Post]
Slow Drivers in Passing Lane to Be Fined — Starting this past Saturday, a new law went into effect in Virginia which makes it illegal to misuse the passing lane by driving slowly in the left lane longer than necessary. Those pulled over for it face a $100 fine. [WHSV]
No Flag Waving at Arlington Cemetery — It is technically illegal to wave an American flag at Arlington National Cemetery. That is an unintended side effect of — or, perhaps, collateral damage from — a 2006 federal law meant to crack down on anti-gay protests during military funerals. [Washington Post]
Photos: Costumes of BlerDCon — “The inaugural BlerDCon… brought out thousands of cosplayers of color from across the country” in Crystal City this past weekend. ESPN’s The Undefeated has photos of some of the attendees. [The Undefeated]
Photo via @kcristol
The D.C. Tattoo Expo is scheduled to be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) next Friday, Jan. 13 to Sunday, Jan. 15. This is the show’s seventh consecutive year running.
The event should attract more than 400 professional tattoo artists, including some of the celebrities from Spike’s “Ink Master” and “Tattoo Nightmares,” organizers said. Attendees can sign up to get new tattoos or just talk shop with the tattooers throughout the three-day festival.
“For our seventh year in a row, we have more vendors, more clothing, more tattoos, more craziness and more fun than ever before,” the expo website reads.
The D.C. Tattoo Expo is also set to include body piercing, tattoo competitions and the annual Miss D.C. Pin-up contest. “The Human Knot” and “Mini KISS” are also scheduled to perform.
Photo via Facebook / D.C. Tattoo Expo
Arlington No. 1 in Public Transit to D.C. — Among suburban D.C. counties, Arlington has the highest percentage of commuters who travel to the District via public transit. In Arlington, 53 percent of D.C. commuters take public transit, while 36 percent drive alone and 8 percent carpool. Montgomery County was second, with 43 precent of D.C. commuters taking public transit. [WTOP]
Vihstadt Campaign Website Hacked? — County Board member John Vihstadt’s campaign website has apparently been hacked by online porn purveyors and its homepage now displays a profane message. That message is also visible when you search for “John Vihstadt” on Google. Vihstadt was elected to a four year term last November and won’t be up for reelection until 2018. [Twitter – NOT SAFE FOR WORK]
County Ranked Top 50 Event Destination — Arlington County has been ranked No. 36 on a list of the top 50 U.S. localities for meetings and events. The District ranked No. 6 and National Harbor ranked No. 35 on the list, from event software provider Cvent. The ranking “reflects Arlington’s appeal as a vibrant urban destination in the heart of the nation’s capital – one that offers the convenience of downtown D.C. with hotel rates averaging up to 20 percent less,” a county official said. [Arlington County]
Columbia Pike Parking Mishap — A car ran partially over an embankment in a shopping center parking lot at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street on Sunday evening. [Twitter]
Pike Photography Book — “Living Diversity: The Columbia Pike Documentary Project,” has been published by the University of Virginia Press. The book “is the extraordinary result of a team of five insightful and highly skilled photographers and interviewers portraying the contemporary life of people and sites along the exceptionally ethnically-diverse and rapidly-changing Columbia Pike corridor.” The hardcover version is selling for $39.95 on Amazon. [Preservation Arlington]
Booing at Meeting About I-66 Tolling — VDOT representatives were booed by residents at a meeting about the plan to convert I-66 to high occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway. VDOT wants to have the tolling in place by 2017. In addition to residents, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is skeptical of the plan, worried that it may discourage travel at Dulles International Airport. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Opera Troupe Leaving Arlington — Forced to find a new home due to the closure of Artisphere in Rosslyn, the opera troupe UrbanArias will perform at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE in D.C. during its 2015-2016 season. [InsideNova]
Barbie Doll Convention Held in Crystal City — More than 1,000 collectors descended on Crystal City for the 2015 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention last week. The event included auditions for a Barbie-themed Broadway production. [Daily Mail]
Marine Completes Hand-Cycle Journey to Arlington — Double amputee Marine veteran Toran Gaal completed his cross-country ride to Arlington National Cemetery this past weekend. Gaal made the more than 3,000 mile journey, which raised money for other wounded Marines, on a hand-cycle. [NBC Washington, Stars and Stripes]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The D.C. Tattoo Arts Expo is being held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) from Thursday night to Sunday night.
Organizers say the expo is “back, bigger and better than ever.”
“We will again have over 160 of the world’s best tattoo artists, including the finest tattoo artists from the DC Metro area,” according to the expo website. “We have more vendors, more clothing, more tattoos, more craziness and more fun than ever before.”
Attracting tattoo artists and enthusiasts, the event features live tattooing and body piercing. There are discounts for active duty military members and children under 12 get in free with a paying adult.
Att’y General to Consider Streetcar Referendum — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) will be asked by Del. Patrick Hope (D) to weigh in on whether Arlington County has the legal authority to hold an advisory referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. County officials say they don’t have the authority, and without General Assembly approval can only use a referendum for a general obligation bond issue. [InsideNova]
County Fair Adds Pentagon City Shuttle — The Arlington County Fair this year is adding a new shuttle option. In addition to shuttles from the Arlington Career Center, Ballston Metro and the I-66 parking garage, a shuttle will now run every 30 minutes from the Pentagon City Metro station. The fair runs from Aug. 6-10. [Arlington County Fair]
Falls Church, Arlington Treasurers Are Friends — Carla de la Pava and Jody Acosta, the new interim treasurers of Arlington County and Falls Church, are lifelong friends who grew up together in Alexandria. [Falls Church News-Press]
Rand Paul Makes News at Arlington Event — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made some headlines after speaking at the Young Americans for Liberty convention in Rosslyn last night. Paul told the libertarian group that he will no longer appear on MSNBC until the network apologizes for “lousy lies” about his position on the Civil Rights Act. [CNN]
Half-Priced Cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory — The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Clarendon (and others around the country) are offering half-priced slices of cheesecake for the second day in a row today in honor of National Cheesecake Day. The restaurant chain this week got some unwelcome attention with several “Xtreme Eating awards” for its calorie-laden meals. One slice of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake alone has 1,500 calories. [Cheesecake Factory, Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
And that’s just the keynote address.
A new conference is coming to Crystal City, and no it’s not another meeting about cow udders, accountants or nanotechnology.
CatalystCon East, described as “a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality,” will be coming to the Crystal City Marriott (1999 Jefferson Davis Highway) from March 15-17.
The conference features some 75 speakers, including porn star Jessica Drake, Dr. Charlie Glickman (author of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure”), Cunning Minx (described as a “kinky boobiesexual”), fetish model Sinnamon Love, and 69-year-old “senior sexpert” Joan Price.
Also on the speaker list is Rev. Rebecca Turner, who will be giving a presentation entitled “Ending the War Between Religion and Sex.”
Other planned sessions have titles like “Entrepreneurial IQ: 10 keys to designing an unconventional career in sexuality,” “Feminist Porn: The Politics of Producing Pleasure,” “PRIDE & Prejudice: Confronting Homophobia in Communities of Color,” and “Sex with Benefits: Progressive Swinging.”
This is the inaugural CatalystCon East, planned after the inaugural CatalystCon West proved successful in September. Registration is required for the three-day conference.
The annual National Right to Life Convention will be coming to Arlington later this month.
The convention is billed as the “42nd annual meeting of pro-life grassroots leaders and experts from across the country.” The three day event starts on Thursday, July 28, and will feature six “major sessions,” more than 100 pro-life speakers and more than 70 workshops.
Speakers will include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway. The previous two National Right to Life conventions were held in Jacksonville, Fla. and Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Hyatt Regency has been on a roll in terms of booking notable or unique events with disparate themes. It has recently hosted the 2011 DMV Music Awards, the Anime USA convention and the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, and a trade group meeting about the health of cow udders.
MLK Day in Arlington — Arlington County government offices, libraries, and schools will be closed today in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. See the full list of closures here. ARLnow.com will return for a full day of news coverage on Tuesday.
GGW Endorses Bondi — The influential local blog Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Melissa Bondi in the upcoming Democratic caucus for Arlington County Board. GGW said Bondi’s “experience, openness to citizen input and dedication to smart urban development” outweighs her recent “tax controversies.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Wardian Runs Two Marathons in Two Days — Local marathoner Michael Wardian didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, but he did manage to run two marathons in two days, attracting some media attention in the process. [Houston Chronicle]
Tattoo Convention Comes to Crystal City — The Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City hosted the second annual D.C. Tattoo Expo over the weekend. Organizers expected the event to attract about 10,000 tattoo aficionados. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by mj*laflaca
The Anime USA convention, an annual celebration of Japanese arts and popular culture, has brought plenty of colorful, costumed characters to Crystal City over the years.
This year’s convention at the Crystal City Hyatt was no exception — but it also represented what may be the last hurrah for the convention’s tenure in Arlington. Next year Anime USA will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman, off of Connecticut Avenue in Northwest D.C.
“The Marriott will offer a larger, convienent [sic], and more cell phone friendly location as the [convention] continues to grow,” organizers wrote on the Anime USA blog.
The convention attracts thousands of passionate attendees each year. Below are some of the more memorable costumes we spotted around Crystal City Friday night.
Free Coffee for Earth Day — To celebrate Earth Day, Starbucks is offering a free coffee or tea to anybody who brings a reusable mug or tumbler. Caribou Coffee, which has locations in Shirlington and Crystal City, is also offering free coffee for those who bring reusable drinkware. [Starbucks, Shirlington Village Blogspot]
Ballston Recognized for Environmental Efforts — Ballston has been named one of the top 10 “green” neighborhoods in the Washington area by real estate listing service MRIS. [Prince of Petworth]
Lawsuit May Be Filed to Stop Mark Center Moves — Rep. Jim Moran is urging Virginia officials to sue the federal government after the Department of Defense’s inspector general found big potential traffic problems with the new Mark Center in Alexandria. According to the inspector general’s report, the Army misled local officials about traffic issues at the site. A lawsuit could keep hundreds or even thousands of jobs in Arlington while improvements are made to the Mark Center’s transportation infrastructure. [Washington Examiner]
Post Tackles Twilight Convention — In an amusing but sadly photo-less write-up of last weekend’s Twilight fan convention at the Sheraton National Hotel on Columbia Pike, a Washington Post reporter discovers that most die-hard Twilight convention-goers are 25 to 50 year-old women. There are, however, a few male fans, who may or may not have been more interested in the female fans than in the movie itself. [Washington Post]
Shirlington Village Trades Escalator for Stairs — Eschewing the normal progression of technology, Shirlington Village has completed a project that removed an escalator and replaced it with a set of stairs. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
In January, the National Mastitis Council brought its annual meeting to Arlington. Approximately 400 people from around the country and around the world gathered for four days and three nights at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City to discuss the latest advances in improving milk quality and maintaining the health of cow udders.
The total estimated economic impact for local businesses: $400,000. Total estimated hotel tax revenue: $11,250.
Each year, dozens of such specialized industry events quietly come to Arlington, spend bundles of money and leave without most residents even knowing they were here. All told — while there’s no official accounting of it — there are likely hundreds of meetings, conventions, tour groups and reunions that stay in Arlington hotels on an annual basis. And there are millions of dollars to be made from those gatherings — by hotels, restaurants, taxi companies and the county government.
The average size of a meeting booked through the Arlington Convention and Visitor’s Service is 175 people, according to Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Karen Vasquez. The average meeting attendee spends $116 per day in Arlington on things like meals, transportation, shopping and attractions. Meanwhile, the average hotel room in Arlington is just over $165 per night.
Put that together, and you have the average three-day meeting producing about $118,650 worth of spending in Arlington County. Of that spending, the county collects a 4 percent tax on meals and a 5.25 percent tax on the hotel room. Not a bad haul for a random meeting of a group that most people have probably never heard of — like the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.
(The hotel tax will be going down to 5 percent in 2012 thanks to political wrangling in Richmond. The 0.25 percent that Arlington will lose had been going to fund Arlington’s tourism promotion efforts. In its new budget, the County Board included one-time funding to keep the tourism office open through the middle of 2012.)
After a jump, a list of some of the other meetings that have recently come or will be coming to Arlington.
Hundreds of Twilight fans will be flocking to the Sheraton National Hotel (900 S. Orme Street) this weekend for the D.C. leg of the Official Twilight Saga Fan Convention Tour.
The convention, which starts today, will feature appearances by a number of Twilight stars (including Chaske Spencer, left) as well as parties, musical performances, trivia competitions, auctions, photo ops and a costume ball. Tickets to the convention range from $20 for a one day pass to $289 for a weekend ‘gold’ package.
The event will be hosted by the sisters behind The Hillywood Show, of YouTube fame.
When we reported on the convention last year, it was sharing the Sheraton with a meeting of the Nation of Islam. We’re still disappointed that no one sent us a photo of the Fanpires, Twi-Hards and Nation of Islam members together in line for continental breakfast.
Pike Realignment in County Legislative Priorities — The county’s wish-list of federal legislative priorities includes a land exchange with the federal government to allow Columbia Pike to be shifted closer to Pentagon City as it approaches South Joyce Street, which would in turn allow the county to build an Arlington “heritage center.” Also on the list: the Potomac River boathouse and a plastic bag tax, plus provisions against helicopter noise and additional flights at Reagan National Airport. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Truth in Fur Labeling Law Takes Effect — A bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran (D) and signed into law in December goes into effect today. The law, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, closes a loophole that allowed products with less than $150 worth of fur to avoid being labeled as a fur product. “This loophole has been exploited to pawn off dog, cat, and other animal fur as an artificial fiber,” Moran said in a statement yesterday. [Federal Trade Commission]
Green Living Expo Takes Place Saturday — The group Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment is hosting its second-annual Green Living Expo on Saturday at Washington Lee High School. The expo will feature eco-friendly products on display, seminars, a raffle, and activities for kids. DISCLOSURE: The Green Living Expo is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment]