Press Club

Two Arlington pie shops are baking up some surprises for Pi Day, now one of the biggest days of the year for their sales.

March 14 (aka 3.14) is Pi Day, honoring math’s greatest mystery  It has become a day of celebration for mathematicians and dessert enthusiasts alike. Locally, Arlington’s two dedicated pie shops have taken full advantage of this baked good boon.

Last year, Pi Day was “almost-Thanksgiving busy” for Acme Pie Company which opened a storefront on Columbia Pike in 2019. This year, owner Sol Schott is preparing for similar levels of business.

“March 14 is always huge for us,” says Schott, speaking via phone from Florida where he’s enjoying a vacation before heading back home for the big day. “And I think [sales] will be close to what it was last year.”

In 2021, he sold about 100 large pies, 70 small pies, plus “a whole heck of a lot of slices.” This year, he says he’s going to make 500 to 600 pies total for the occasion. While Acme Pie normally has a rotating selection of flavors available, on March 14, the shop is going to try having most of their flavors ready to order.

Schott calls Pi Day one of the “top 3 days of the year” in terms of sales, behind the day before Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas. Both of those days, though, require more lead-up and preparation.

“It’s more of a blip,” says Schott. “But it’s great and we will take it.”

Acme Pie is also participating in BikeArlington’s Bike for Pie event this Sunday, the day before Pi Day. The five-mile ride ends at the Pike pie shop.

Livin’ the Pie Life on N. Glebe Road is where the Bike for Pie event begins.

The 11-year-old shop in the Glebewood neighborhood also is expecting a surge in business on March 14. Normally the shop is closed on Mondays, but this week, it will be open on Pi Day with special sweet offerings.

That includes a “Pi Day sampler box” which will contain three “cocktail-size pies + one surprise equalling 4 sweet treats” (3.14, get it?). Additionally, five random boxes will contain a $20 gift card to make the numerical holiday extra sweet for a few.

They are expecting to sell more than a thousand pies, co-owner Heather Sheire tells ARLnow. That includes the 150 pre-orders the shop has taken already for the sampler boxes. There will also be a hundred or so boxes waiting for those who are walking into the shop looking for a Pi Day treat.

(It’s hard not to get into Pi Day’s numerical spirit. In honor of Arlington’s two pie destinations, for instance, this article and its photo captions are exactly 628 words, or 2 times 314.)

Sheire says it’s hard to compare Pi Day to a normal day since the shop will have offerings that aren’t typically sold.

Thanksgiving is “a different animal,” says Livin’ the Pie Life’s other co-owner Wendy MacCallum, that lasts a whole week in terms of preparation, baking, and sales. This past Thanksgiving, the shop sold about 2,000 pies, she says.

While Thanksgiving is big business, Pi Day is much more fun, the local pie shop owners say. Less stressful and more opportunity to be creative, they note.

“Businesses, schools, mathematicians, they all love Pi Day,” MacCallum says. “And so do we.”

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Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse (Photo courtesy of Ireland’s Four Courts)

Local bars are planning St. Patrick’s Day events and preparing for crowds that area expected to be the largest in a couple of years.

After two years of Covid-related restrictions and muted St. Patrick’s Day festivities, management at several local Irish pubs tells ARLnow that they expect this year’s holiday on March 17 to be “mayhem.”

Be it making up for lost time, the need to get out after another pandemic winter, or the fact that the first day of March Madness also falls on the holiday, bars are preparing for huge numbers this year. For many, large crowds will be welcomed.

“[St. Patrick’s Day] is the biggest business day of the year for us,” Dave Cahill, General Manager at Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse. “We are all going to be making up for missing the last two years.”

Michael McMahon, co-owner of Celtic House on Columbia Pike, agrees, saying that they are prepping for an entire weekend of festivities in hopes of spreading out the crowds a bit.

He notes with the holiday falling on a Thursday this year, he anticipates there will be four straight days of crowds and big business at his pub.

If St. Paddy’s Day 2022 ends up being seen as a turning point, it will have come full circle for many local bar owners — March 17, 2020 was the day that Celtic House, along with a number of other local restaurants, shut down due to the emerging coronavirus.

Two years later, there’s a cautious optimism that this year’s St. Patrick’s Day may signal a return to some semblance of normalcy.

“I do hope this is close to the end,” says McMahon. “But I’m not a scientist or a doctor.”

Below is a list of Arlington restaurants and pubs that are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Read More

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Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse (file photo)

Many county services and operations will be shuttered on Monday (Feb. 21) for Presidents Day, which is officially called George Washington Day in Virginia.

County government, the courts and libraries are all closed on Monday. This also includes county vaccine clinics and COVID-19 testing sites. The test positivity rate in Arlington has dropped below 5% as demand for tests has slowed considerably since earlier this winter.

All community centers, including the Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center, will also be closed on Monday.

Arlington Public Schools are not in session on the federal holiday, but trash and recycling collection will happen as scheduled on Monday.

Seven ART bus lines will continue to run, but on a Saturday schedule. The remainder of the ART bus lines will not operate on Monday.

Metro trains will operate on a Saturday schedule, meaning stations open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight with Blue, Orange, Yellow and Silver line trains running every 24 minutes. Metro buses will be on a Saturday supplement schedule with a few additional routes than a normal weekend.

All parking will be free at Metro-owned parking facilities. And for those free parking fans, all county parking meters will not be enforced in honor of America’s first president.

While in most other states the third Monday in February is known as “Presidents Day,” in Virginia, the official state holiday is called George Washington Day.

America’s first president’s birthday is actually Feb. 22 and that’s the day the federal government first designated as a national holiday starting in 1885. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February to also celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who was born Feb. 12. Hence, the rise of “Presidents Day.”

But here in Virginia, the federal holiday and free parking is specifically in honor of the Commonwealth’s native son, George Washington.

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(Updated on 1/13/22) A number of events around Arlington this weekend will honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The county will hold its annual tribute virtually this year, and Volunteer Arlington organized a video challenge and volunteer opportunities on Monday, the federal holiday recognizing King’s birthday.

The county’s annual tribute to King will be livestreamed on Sunday at 5 p.m., featuring music, dance and spoken word.

Kimberly Gordon will sing three songs, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Spoken word artist Kim B. Miller will share her work. Dancer Kamali Hill will perform to “Freedom” and Mahalia Jackson’s version of “Down by the River Side.” Malachi Alexander will dance to “It Ain’t Over” by Maurette Brown Clark.

The Volunteer Arlington’s MLK Day of Service will begin with a virtual ceremony Monday at 9 a.m. followed by a number of opportunities to be civically engaged both virtually and in person.

At the opening ceremony, the winner of the organization’s “Arlington Cares Challenge” will be announced and a $200 donation made toward the local nonprofit they featured in a 1-minute video posted on social media.

Below is a listing of Volunteer Arlington Day of Service opportunities that you can still register for.

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists have also compiled a list of local environmental service opportunities this weekend.

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Covid cases in Arlington as of Dec. 27, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

A pre-Christmas testing bonanza helped contribute to a steep, record-breaking rise in Covid cases in Arlington last week, but the holiday managed to bend the curve.

A more modest 126 cases were reported today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data, bringing the seven-day moving average down slightly to 364 daily cases. Reports of serious illness remain muted, with an average of one hospitalization per day.

After nearly three weeks without a reported Covid death in Arlington, two fatalities have been reported since Christmas day.

Covid hospitalizations in Arlington as of Dec. 27, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The state health department does not break out other details locally, such as whether any of the serious illness and death in Arlington was attributable to the new, quickly spreading Omicron variant.

While a rise in testing leading up to Christmas likely helped to inflate case counts, a big drop in testing reports sent to VDH during the holiday weekend appears to be a primary contributor to the drop in new cases. Through it all, the county’s test positivity rate has continued to rise, reaching 12.4% today.

That’s the highest test positivity rate since May 2020, during the pandemic’s first wave.

Covid testing in Arlington as of Dec. 27, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse

Nearly all county operations and services, including COVID-19 testing sites and vaccine clinics, are set to be closed during the Christmas and New Years holidays.

County government offices, courts, community centers, and libraries, will all be closed on Friday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), Saturday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day), Friday, Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve), and Saturday, Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day).

The new Long Bridge Aquatics Center will reopen on Sunday, Jan. 2, though other community centers will remain closed that day.

For those looking for a booster shoot, county COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be closed Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 and Dec. 31 through Jan. 3.

The three Curative testing sites in Arlington will also be closed Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1 — and will close early at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31, even as lines to get tested remain long amid the current surger in Covid cases.

The sites will be open normal hours (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, however.

Arlington Public Schools closed on Monday, Dec. 20 for the winter holiday break. The school system is currently set to reopen for classes Monday, Jan 3.

Trash, recycling, and yard waste collection will happen as scheduled on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31,

As for some good news, parking meters will not be enforced on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31, and Jan. 1.

WMATA and ART buses are also revising schedules for the holidays. On Christmas Eve, Metrorail is operating from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m., scaling back by three hours from a normal Friday. Metrobus will be operating on a Sunday schedule. Metrorail is reducing service by an hour on Christmas Day while keeping a normal Saturday schedule.

A select number of ART bus routes will operate on a Sunday schedule on Christmas Day, with the rest not operating.

New Year’s Eve will be different than in years past, with Metrorail staying open only until 1 a.m. as opposed to 2 a.m. Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule on that day and, on New Year’s Day, Metrorail will close an hour earlier than a normal Saturday.

ART buses will run its normal route schedule on New Year’s Eve, but a Sunday schedule on New Year’s Day.

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In something of a holiday tradition, ARLnow has a new gondola-related shirt for all fans of high fashion and aerial lift transportation.

If you thought last year’s Gondola Now! shirt was a bit understated, and if you know that the truth is out there in the search for the perfect cross-Potomac transit system, then this is the shirt for you.

Whether or not you were a fan of a certain 90s sci-fi TV series, you can now let the world know that you want to believe in the power of modern cable transport, even if big government is conspiring to put the kibosh on it.

Sure, most people seem to think the idea of people commuting from Rosslyn to Georgetown (or vice versa) via gondola is a silly fantasy, but only by a slim margin! More people believe in the gondola being worth building (47%) than in aliens flying UFOs around Earth (41%), so there’s that.

Okay, you might be thinking, this is clearly the perfect holiday gift, but it’s Dec. 22. Why roll it out so late? Well, as you probably know, the supply chain of online t-shirt designers was a bit stretched this year, so we dealt with that the best we could. With any luck this can be a new year’s gift to ring in 2022.

Either way, your purchase will help to support ARLnow’s local reporting.

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With just five days until Christmas, Arlington homes are decking the halls with boughs of holly — and then some.

Dazzling light displays and head-turning inflatable menageries can be found throughout the county.

Here’s a collection of some homes bringing holiday cheer to neighborhood kids and adults, with Santas, illuminated trees, snowmen and Buddy the Elf.

Know of any other elaborate holiday displays around town? Post some photos in the comments.

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The Ballston Quarter location of Heart + Paw (courtesy photo)

Dog parents can get a few photos of their furry best friend with Santa while chowing down on free donuts in Ballston over the next couple of days.

This Friday afternoon (Dec. 17) from 1-3 p.m., four-legged locals can join Santa outside of Ballston Quarter’s Hearts + Paw for holiday pet photos. The combination veterinarian, dog daycare, and grooming business opened in May.

Then, on Saturday, free donuts and hot cocoa kits from District Doughnut will be available at the mall from 1-3 p.m. along with $25 gift cards to REWILD, the trendy plant shop that opened at Ballston Quarter earlier this fall. The snacks and gift cards are available while supplies last with only one giveaway given per person. Holiday tunes will also be spun by local D.J. Cyndi Tran.

Both events are taking place at and hosted by Ballston Quarter on Wilson Blvd.

Elsewhere in Ballston this weekend is a holiday wreath market at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Stuart Street. That event is being organized by the Ballston BID and will feature live music, a local TikTok star (the cello-playing one), a light art projection, holiday wreaths for sale, and Santa selfies.

There’s plenty of other holiday cheer in Arlington this weekend with Christmas now just over a week away. There’s the Rosslyn holiday market (with Santa and dog photos, too), holiday light displays in Crystal City, and a number of local Christmas tree sales (depending on availability among the current tree shortage).

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Snow falls on the Christmas tree in front of 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, in 2020 (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

The holiday spirit is alive and well in Arlington, with a number of markets and events planned over the next couple of weeks.

First up is Rosslyn’s holiday market, set for this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 10-11) at 1800 N. Lynn Street. Friday night will feature a celebration for the dogs of Rosslyn, including giveaways for the pups as well as a chance for your canine to take photos with Santa Claus. Saturday will feature a family-friendly performance at Synetic Theater and photos with Santa Claus.

There will also be food, free hot chocolate, and a dozen vendors.

After that, the first annual Ballston Holiday Wreath Market is taking place next Friday and Saturday (Dec. 17-18) at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Stuart Street.

Organized by the Ballston BID, the two-day event will include a pop-up outdoor bar, live music from the Arlington Children’s Chorus, a cello performance from local TikTok personality Andrew Savoia, a light art projection from Robin Bell, Santa Claus selfies, and holiday wreaths for sale.

Proceeds from the wreath sales will go towards local nonprofits including Bridges to Independence, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Culpepper Garden, Doorways for Women and Families, and The Sycamore School. Wreaths can be ordered in advance online for pick-up at the market.

Arlington County Police Department’s toy-collecting cruiser will also be there on Saturday, ready to receive wrapped gifts that will be donated to area kids.

Performing at 5 p.m. on Friday, 25-year-old Ballston resident Andrew Savoia became gained social media notability last year with his cello covers of modern pop songs. Washingtonian described his music as “Cardi B meets Beethoven.”

Robin Bell’s light art show will be projected onto the Ballston Macy’s storefront, described as a “celebration of holidays around the world.” Bell is known for sometimes politically charged and profound art projections. He previously projected a beach scene in Ballston in 2020. Bell’s holiday illumination will be displayed from 7-9 p.m. each night.

The outdoor bar will include warm beverages, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot chocolate, a “mistletoe spice cocktail,” beer, and wine. The hope is that the Ballston Wreath Market will become an annual Arlington tradition, a spokesperson tells ARLnow.

The National Landing BID, meanwhile, is hosting two events over the next couple of weekends, including a holiday market and a peppermint mocha latte competition.

The latte competition is taking place this Sunday morning (Dec. 12), starting at 11 a.m., outside of 2121 Crystal Drive. It will feature seasonal drinks from Commonwealth Joe, The Freshman, and Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen. Attendees will be able to sample minty creations from each neighborhood coffee shop and vote on their favorite. The event is free.

The next weekend, on Friday and Saturday (Dec. 17-18), the BID is holding a holiday market outside of 2121 Crystal Drive, with an assortment of live music, shopping, and food.

Friday night’s market will feature music from Laygod, a self-described “cult-fiction rock n roll band,” and Nicaraguan musician Pedro Night. Playing Saturday’s market is Jerel Crockett. More than 25 vendors are expected to offer their wares.

In addition to the events, there are a number of light displays in Crystal City. At Long Bridge Park, more than 6,000 white and blue lights are twinkling along the nearly-mile walk along Long Bridge Park Esplanade overlooking the Potomac River. At Gateway Green, the former location of Summer House at 101 12th Street S., “an immersive winter lights art installation” is ongoing through the holiday season.

Can’t get enough Christmas? Other local holiday events can be found in our Arlington event calendar.

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The 58th annual Miracle on 23rd Street (Photo courtesy of Melwood)

A miracle is shutting down a portion of 23rd Street S. near Crystal City tonight (Friday).

The 58th edition of the holiday event “Miracle on 23rd Street” is taking place on Friday night from 7-9 p.m. at 750 23rd Street S. in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

The event will feature a Christmas tree lighting, hot chocolate, a “holiday-themed virtual reality experience,” music from the Bluemont Brass Quintet, and, of course, an appearance from Santa Claus, who usually arrives via fire truck. It is being put on by the local non-profit Melwood, which advocates and employs people with differing abilities.

Online registrations are being requested, though walk-up attendees will be accepted.

“Miracle on 23rd Street” will also close a one block stretch of traffic in both directions for several hours.

From 6-9 p.m., 23rd Street S. in between S. Hayes Street and S. Grant Street will be closed off to vehicular traffic, Arlington County police said.

Last year’s event was mostly virtual, though Santa did drive around the neighborhood.

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