Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

County Launching Race Conversations — “Today, Arlington County launched a new effort to address racial equity and disparities in our community. Called Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE), the effort is part of the County’s broader commitment to racial equity… DRE will include a series of virtual community conversations with individuals, nonprofit organizations, civic associations, faith organizations, and businesses.” [Arlington County]

Local Nurses Hold Food Drive — “Nurses at the Virginia [Hospital] Center are going above and beyond to give back to the local community… Nurses launched the ‘Together We Can’ campaign where they collected canned goods. All together, they collected 10,000 cans and donated them directly to the food assistance center.” [WJLA]

Virtual 5K for Local Nonprofits — “A coalition of three homeless-outreach organizations – Community Lodgings, Bridges to Independence and Homestretch – will be hosting their third annual 5K “Home Run for the Homeless” in a different format this year. Rather than running as a group on the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail this year, participants will be able to run where they choose anytime from Oct. 10 (which is designated World Homeless Day) to Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]

Penthouse Sold in New Rosslyn Tower — “The sales team for Pierce announced strong early sales for The Highlands‘ luxury condominium tower… Strong early interest in Pierce has resulted in over $18.7 million in sales by The Mayhood Company since launching sales in August, including the sale of one of two top-of-the-market penthouse residences.” [Press Release]

Theater Holding Virtual Halloween Event — “Synetic Theater will hold its annual ‘Vampire Ball’ in a ‘virtual’ setting this year, with participants enjoying the festivities ‘from the comfort of your own crypt.’ The event will be held on Friday, Oct. 30 from 8 to 10 p.m.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Trump Rallies at Eden Center — Vietnamese Americans held rallies for President Trump at the Eden Center in Falls Church over the weekend. [Twitter, YouTube, YouTube]

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Homes on N. Jackson Street in Ashton Heights may put up Halloween decorations this year, but most will not hand out treats in order to discourage trick-or-treating and follow state and national health guidelines.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends that people avoid traditional trick or treating because it is a “higher risk activity.” North Jackson Street neighbors — noted for having the most elaborate Halloween decorations in Arlington — decided that respecting this guidance would mean foregoing the usual Halloween revelry.

The street has been a popular destination for trick-or-treating for decades. Homes between Wilson Blvd and Pershing Drive deck out their houses with witches, pumpkins and skeletons galore, create a haunted house, and give out enough candy to keep pediatric dentists in business.

“Halloween is a treasured tradition in our community,” said Scott Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association.

Some homes will be decorated on N. Jackson Street, but Sklar said he anticipated many others along the street and in Ashton Heights may avoid decorating, to discourage crowds.

“We regret seeing a scaled-back Halloween, but want to be good neighbors and do our part to keep our community safe,” he said.

Sklar said he hopes his neighborhood can bring back the ghouls, ghosts and graveyards next year.

COVID-19 is slightly dampening the spooky spirit in Arlington County. A recent ARLnow poll found that of more than 2,000 respondents, nearly half are not planning to hand out candy this year. Another poll found that more than a third of locals who usually decorate for Halloween are either skipping it or scaling it back this year.

The county’s guidance encourages people to decorate, but discourages them from going door-to-door for candy, walking through haunted houses with screaming people, and attending large, in-door parties.

“Everyone planning to celebrate Halloween this year should avoid close contact with people who do not live in their household, wear a mask, keep 6-feet distance and practice frequent and proper hand washing,” said Arlington County Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese. “There are still ways to celebrate Halloween, but it will have to be on a more limited scale.”

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(Updated at 9:45 a.m.) Halloween has not been cancelled, but the pandemic is putting a damper on the usual spooky spirit of the holiday.

The owner of a local costume store in the Crystal City Shops told the Washington Post that his sales are down 80%, amid a nationwide drop in Halloween spending. Sales of adult costumes in particular are down significantly, as parties are curtailed.

Overall Halloween spending is expected to fall 8%, according to the Post, citing the National Retail Federation.

Around Arlington, Halloween decorations can still be found, but three-and-a-half weeks out from Oct. 31 it feels like there are fewer ghouls, goblins, fake spiderwebs and pumpkins to be seen.

Are residents reluctant to decorate when trick-or-treating will be much diminished and when fake skeletons feel a bit, well, insensitive? Or is it actually business as usual for most people, despite the deadly global pandemic?

Let’s find out.

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Morning Notes

Girl’s Study Shed Featured on NBC — With the help of a local Facebook group called “Buy Nothing,” an Arlington dad built a study shed for his daughter using materials donated by neighbors. The project was featured on Saturday’s national NBC Nightly News broadcast. [YouTube, Washington Post]

APS Graduation Rate Improves — “Arlington’s public-school students posted a 93.4-percent on-time graduation rate up from 92.5 percent a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education. Rates rose among both genders and in major racial/ethnic groups compared to the Class of 2019, while the school system’s dropout rate showed improvement, declining from 5.6 percent in 2019 to 4.9 percent in 2020.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Halloween Shop Struggles — “This was supposed to be the biggest Halloween of Lorenzo Caltagirone’s career.
For the first time in 95 years, it would fall on both a full moon and a Saturday — an equation that normally would mean big profits for his Virginia costume shop. Instead, sales are down 80 percent and he is running low on cash.” [Washington Post]

Vehicle Tampering Suspects Flee — “Police were dispatched to the report of two subjects trespassing and tampering with vehicles in a parking garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that security observed two suspects enter the garage on motorcycles and begin trying door handles. Arriving officers observed the suspects, however, when they attempted to stop them, Suspect One got on a motorcycle, then fled on foot and the Suspect Two fled on a motorcycle.” [ACPD]

Memorial Service for Erik Gutshall — A memorial service for the late County Board member Erik Gutshall was held last night at outdoor the Lubber Run Amphitheater. Some mourners attended in person, though the service was also broadcast online. [YouTube]

Beyer’s Warnings Unheeded By White House — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “specifically and directly warned the White House and the Trump Campaign in June, July, August, and September that refusing to wear masks or social distance could create ‘super-spreader events.’ We used those words,” said Beyer’s spokesman. [Twitter]

Cross-Country Tandem Bike Ride — “Terri and Bruce Brown are finishing up a more than 3,000-mile, three-month bicycle trip from Oregon to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, not with two bikes, but one.” [WTOP]

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) Arlington County does not regulate Halloween activity and does not appear to have any plans to do so this year.

While some communities have official trick-or-treating times, the revelry has always been unofficial in Arlington — running roughly from sunset to 8 p.m. or so.

The county has, however, just issued guidance for Halloween safety amid the pandemic. In a press release, below, officials urge anyone with COVID-like symptoms to refrain from any in-person Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating or handing out candy.

The guidance further urges residents to not hand out candy in person, to avoid large parties and haunted houses, and to not wear costume masks as a replacement for cloth masks.

Arlington’s health director previously cautioned against trick-or-treating, but said there are ways to safely enjoy the holiday “on a more limited scale.” An ARLnow poll on Tuesday found that just under half of 2,000 respondents said they plan to skip handing out candy to trick-or-treaters this year.

More from Arlington County:

With the start of fall, many Arlingtonians begin to look forward to the season’s festivities and holidays – particularly Halloween. But this year’s celebrations will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While Halloween is not an official holiday, and is not regulated by the County, Arlington is asking everyone to continue to practice the behaviors we know slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you may have COVID-19, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or are showing any COVID-19 symptoms, you should not participate in trick-or-treating or any other in-person Halloween festivities.

“Everyone planning to celebrate Halloween this year should avoid close contact with people who do not live in their household, wear a mask, keep 6-feet distance and practice frequent and proper hand washing,” said Arlington County Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese. “There are still ways to celebrate Halloween, but it will have to be on a more limited scale.”

The Virginia Department of Health recommends everyone follow the considerations from Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention to help protect individuals, families, friends, and communities from COVID-19 during Halloween.

Higher-risk activities to avoid this Halloween season include:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Trick-or-treating at houses where individuals are not wearing a mask, and where six feet of physical distance is not maintained between individuals
  • Events with large gatherings (e.g. indoor costume parties)
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming, which is known to increase the production of respiratory droplets

While some Halloween activities are considered a higher risk, there are many lower-risk, safe alternatives:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Read More

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Halloween is a month away, but people are already starting to wonder how it’s going to play out.

Health authorities are cautioning against trick-or-treating during the pandemic. So far it has not been officially banned, but there is historical precedence for doing so.

During the 1918 influenza pandemic, which was at its deadliest between October and December, a number of U.S. cities banned Halloween parties and celebration, according to CNN.

What to do about Halloween is a hot topic on local Nextdoor threads.

“As tough as it is we are not going to engage in this this year to protect not only ourselves but others,” one resident said, on a recent thread visible to those in some North Arlington neighborhoods. “I really wish everyone could just buckle down so we can get the schools back open, even if it means sitting it out this year.”

Others disagreed.

“If people can safely protest, kids can trick or treat,” said another local resident. “This is nuts. This is an outdoor activity. I’m certain kids and their parents can social distance and those over the age of 2 yrs can wear proper masks.”

Given the current likelihood of there being some trick-or-treaters out and about this year, what is your plan for offering candy? Will you be answering the door, leaving a jar outside, or skipping the holiday altogether?

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In a year that has been more trick than treat, traditional Halloween activities may be next on the chopping block.

Arlington County has not yet issued an official directive for Halloween this year. However, Arlington’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese is cautioning against participation in trick-or-treating or other traditional Halloween activities due to the pandemic.

In a virtual COVID-19 town hall on Friday, Varghese expressed optimism about Halloween, under the right circumstances. He said revelers should observe six-foot distances between people or groups, and individuals who show any signs of illness should not be out and about.

“Those are going to be some of the things that parents are still going to have to think about,” Varghese said. “I think there are ways to do it, but it’s going to probably be on a more limited scale and making sure that people [know] what’s more important, the candy or the costuming.”

On Tuesday, the CDC and the VDH released guideline for participating in Halloween activities this year. Both listed high, moderate and low-risk activities in the guidelines while reminding everyone to wear a mask or cloth face covering, and to practice social distancing and proper hand washing.

The high-risk activities the CDC and VDH suggest to avoid include door to door trick-or-treating, where treats are handed out, or attending crowded events or parties, such as indoor costume parties or indoor haunted houses. Both also advise against going on hayrides or tractor rides with people outside of your household.

The CDC and VDH also offer a variety of low-risk activity ideas that includes carving or decorating pumpkins with family or at a distance with neighbors or friends, decorating your house, and virtual costume contests.

“The best way to avoid becoming infected is to avoid being exposed to the virus altogether,” VDH said. “This is particularly important for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

In Alexandria, trick-or-treating will be allowed, as the city is not regulating the holiday, Washingtonian reported last week. Arlington County similarly does not set official trick-or-treating times nor has it, in the past, set any Halloween-specific regulations.

Nationally, a number of cities and states — like ChicagoNew York, and Arkansas — have said they will not cancel Halloween festivities outright, though many are encouraging revelers to follow existing safety guidelines.

Los Angeles made headlines at the beginning of the month for initially banning trick-or-treating and other activities. However, public health officials reversed course a day later and merely recommended canceling trick-or-treating, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Morning Notes

School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]

Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]

Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]

ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]

Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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Despite a Tornado Watch and a forecast calling for severe weather, dozens of Arlingtonians descended on Ballston Quarter to trick-or-treat in the shopping center on Halloween.

ARLnow was there and some costumed characters posed for our cameras.

Popular costumes included classics such as superhero characters, Disney princesses, and animals. Many paid homage to our recent World Series champions and several families, impressively, came in fully coordinated costumes.

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A Tornado Watch has been issued for Arlington and the D.C. region as severe storms threaten dangerous conditions amid tonight’s Halloween festivities.

The Tornado Watch is in effect until midnight.

Forecasters warn that a line of storms packing rain and gusty winds will reach Arlington around 9 p.m. Trick-or-treaters and Halloween partiers should seek shelter ahead of the storms.

The National Weather Service issued a special statement about the storm threat:

…DAMAGING LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY TO MOVE EAST ACROSS THE AREA BETWEEN MID AFTERNOON AND MIDNIGHT…

A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS IS EXPECTED TO MOVE EAST ACROSS THE REGION. THESE STORMS WILL BRING THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGING WIND  GUSTS AND ISOLATED TORNADOES. PLEASE BE SHELTERED WHEN THESE  THUNDERSTORMS PASS THROUGH YOUR AREA.

THE MOST LIKELY TIMING OF THE LINE RANGES FROM MID TO LATE AFTERNOON FOR THE POTOMAC HIGHLANDS, TO THE EVENING FOR THE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON METROS, TO BETWEEN 9PM AND MIDNIGHT FOR AREAS EAST OF I-95 TO THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. THE STORMS WILL LIKELY LAST AN HOUR OR LESS IN MOST AREAS.

STAY INFORMED. FOR MORE EXACT TIMING FOR YOUR LOCATION, CONSULT THE FORECAST FOR YOUR COMMUNITY AT OUR WEBSITE WEATHER.GOV OR OUR FACEBOOK OR TWITTER FEEDS FOR NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON.

More via social media:

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Champagne was spraying, people were jumping around and the whole room filled with deafening shouts.

That was the scene at the Washington Capitals’ annual Halloween party last night, as the Stanley Cup-winning hockey team celebrated D.C.’s newest champions, the World Series-winning Nationals.

The Caps held the team Halloween party at The G.O.A.T. in Clarendon, but the event turned into a World Series watch party. Alexander Ovechkin was among the players partying as the last strike was called in the bottom of the 9th.

The event for the team and spouses was held in a private event space at the sports bar, located across the street from the Clarendon Metro. Video from the celebration was posted online and quickly reposted by the Washington Post, Barstool Sports and local sports blogs.

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