While those in Arlington and across the nation watched the musical tribute on TV, many in the D.C. area could actually hear or see the fireworks from their homes.
And it wasn’t just the usual suspects whose homes overlook the Potomac. As the Capital Weather Gang reported, a weather phenomenon known as an inversion allowed people relatively far from the National Mall to hear the fireworks rumble.
The temperature inversion “‘caps’ the atmosphere, preventing cooler surface air from rising. It also helps turn the lower atmosphere into an echo chamber, allowing sound waves to propagate across long distances,” CWG wrote. “A firework-induced rumbling was heard as far away as Silver Spring, Huntington, Bethesda and Hyattsville.”
We know of at least one family in Reston who also said they could hear it.
Such weather phenomena, however, are fickle, and while someone 15 miles away might have heard it, there were no doubt parts of Arlington that were perfectly quiet.
So this morning we’re wondering: did you hear the fireworks Wednesday night?
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
It was President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s day, but for many, it was former First Lady Michelle Obama who stole the spotlight at the Inauguration.
Wearing all burgundy and plum ensemble in an outfit by LA-based designer Sergio Hudson, her bouncy curls matched the day’s mood. Quickly after Obama’s grand entrance, it was revealed by NBC 4’s Jummy Olabanji that the hair stylist behind her look was Arlington’s Yene Damtew.
— Jummy Olabanji (@JummyNBC) January 20, 2021
The 2015 grad of Arlington’s Marymount University owns Aesthetics Salon at 2444 26th Road S., near the Glebe Road exit of I-395.
Damatew was one of a number of Black entrepreneurs, along with Hudson and Christy Rilling who designed the couple’s masks, that Obama has continuously sought to highlight.
— Yene Damtew (@yenedamtew) January 20, 2021
But Damtew has worked with the former First Lady for more than a decade, having also styled her hair during her time in the White House and for best-selling 2018 memoir, “Becoming.”
ARLnow asked Damtew via email about how she became the former First Lady’s go-to hairstylist, what it was like on that special day, and what business been like since word got out.
The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.
What’s the story behind styling Mrs. Obama’s hair for this inauguration?
I have had a relationship with the Obamas since 2009. I was working for her then-stylist, Johnny Wright, and he brought me to the White House where I assisted with hair needs for the entire family.
Working in the White House for eight years was one of the highest honors of my life.
My relationship with Mrs. Obama has remained strong in her post-First Lady life. I’ve been blessed to stay on her style team along with my friends Carl Ray (makeup) and Meredith Koop (clothing). I did hair for her best-selling book “Becoming” and accompanied her on her two-year book tour across the world.
I consider her not just a client, but a friend and mentor.
What did you want to accomplish with her look?
I do always keep in mind that America LOVES Mrs. Obama and she always makes headlines based on what she’s wearing and how her hair looks.
Today was a day about celebrating their good friends, the Bidens, and the first Black woman Vice President. I wanted her look to match the moment! Volume and curls seemed like the way to go and I’m glad so many people loved it.
How long did it take to style?
I don’t talk specifics about any client, out of respect, but I’ve been doing hair long enough that I’m able to be very efficient!
I think I spent more time in the car navigating D.C. traffic and road shutdowns!
There were days in the White House and on the book tour where I would have to make changes very quickly. Once my client and I talk about what kind of look we want to create, it doesn’t take long.
Like with anything else the things that take the longest are sitting under the dryer with color treatments.
While it’s only been a few hours since the world found out, how has business been since? Is your salon being inundated with calls and appointments right now?
It’s been overwhelming — in a good way!
Our website has been inundated with requests for appointments. We do everything via email, so our inbox is very full. We hope to get back to everyone by the end of the week. I
In only a few years, I’ve grown my salon from one building to two and have added several more stylists on staff.
Whether a client meets with me or one of my other stylists we want them to walk out of our doors feeling like they have the confidence they need to take on the day.
The Arlington community has been so wonderful and supportive to my salon. I graduated from Marymount University in Arlington and live in Arlington.
It was only right to have my business in Arlington, too.
Photo (top) via Aesthetics Salon
Despite everything that transpired leading up to it, Inauguration Day saw a peaceful transfer of power as now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House and President Joe Biden was sworn in.
Overlooking it all from across the Potomac, Arlington played a bit part in pomp and circumstance.
Those with a vista across the river could catch a clear view this morning of President Trump departing the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One.
The view from Arlington of Marine 1 as the Trump family left the White House headed for Joint Base Andrews. Just past the U.S. Capitol, Marine 1 turned back for a final tour along the National Mall. @HelicoptersofDC @ARLnowDOTcom @WTOP @hhowardWTOP #Inauguration2021 @DildineWTOP pic.twitter.com/ZAiVgiJ8Gc
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) January 20, 2021
The inauguration ceremony that followed was devoid of members of the general public, as security and virus concerns closed the National Mall. Some who wanted to experience history unfold in person headed instead to the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Rosslyn.
— Victoria Sanchez (@VictoriaSanchez) January 20, 2021
A sizable security presence could be seen near the Rosslyn Metro station as the inauguration ceremony concluded and as President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — joined by former residents Clinton, Bush, Obama — headed via motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.
Biden and Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before heading back into D.C., via the Memorial Bridge, for their arrival at the White House.
At Arlington National Cemetery, @POTUS and @VP, joined by former Presidents @BarackObama, @BillClinton and George W. Bush, honor our men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/tAsx9NoRiM
— Biden Inaugural Committee (@BidenInaugural) January 20, 2021
Earlier today, President @JoeBiden and @VP Kamala Harris participated in a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Biden and Harris visited ANC after Biden was sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States. pic.twitter.com/B4RM0Sbt4l
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) January 20, 2021
When Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse delivered food to the security personnel in the District on Monday, it took two-and-a-half hours and many phone calls — even to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser — to pass each checkpoint.
“When I arrived the Commander of that unit and the policeman literally cheered, [saying] ‘Bayou Bakery is here,'” Guas tells ARLnow.
Bayou Bakery and Arlington-founded District Taco are helping nourish the 25,000 servicemen and women, along with law enforcement, deployed to protect the nation’s capital during the 59th Inauguration.
The homegrown Mexican chain donated 2,000 burritos to the National Guard on Monday. The day before, Guas said he and his crew worked into the night to prepare biscuits and sandwich lunches for the Monday delivery.
The two join about 30 D.C.-area restaurants distributing meals to the multitudes, hailing from Maine to Guam. The heightened security is in response to the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
District Taco donated burritos that were pledged during a “Buy One, Give One Burrito” campaign in December.
On Monday, CEO and co-founder Osiris Hoil cashed in all 2,000 BOGO burritos to feed the National Guard. He said they were so popular that supplies ran out long before the lunch hours ended.
“When I saw the brave servicemen and women protecting the Capitol building, I knew exactly where I wanted those pledged burritos to go,” Hoil said in a press release.
District Taco also donated hundreds of burritos to essential workers in hospitals and food banks last October and November. Hoil said he is proud to continue this longstanding tradition of giving back.
“Thanks to the support of our community, our restaurants are still open,” Hoil said.
“Not having served in the military myself — but having grandparents that did — I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to help our men and women in uniform who protect our freedom,” he said.
Guas credits his involvement to Micheline Mendelsohn Luhn and Spike Mendelsohn, his friends and two of the family members behind We, The Pizza. The duo told ABC News that D.C. restaurants — despite struggles during the pandemic — are pitching in to provide fresh food to upwards of 5,000 people, who might otherwise have to rely on pre-packaged military meals, each day.
We now have 30 #DCrestaurants teaming up to donate thousands of warm, delicious meals to our @NationalGuard & first responders protecting #CapitolHill. I couldn’t be more proud of the DC community coming together to spread some joy to the brave heroes protecting our home🙏❤️ pic.twitter.com/BW7r5WlkIf— Spike Mendelsohn (@chefspike) January 20, 2021
Photos (1) via District Taco, (2-3) via Bayou Bakery
(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) Traffic is light. Police dispatches are run-of-the-mill. Many residents are at home, watching their televisions.
In contrast to the chaos of two weeks ago, Inauguration Day has been uneventful in Arlington.
Arlington County Police confirmed this morning that its officers are remaining in the county, not needed for the unprecedented security presence in D.C. Instead they remain in Arlington, albeit on high alert.
Arlington County Fire Department personnel are, however, supporting their counterparts in the District today.
“It’s an all hand kind of a day,” said ACFD spokesman Taylor Blunt.
Blunt said the fire department responded to a regional call for mutual aid from the D.C. fire department, which is supporting the inauguration. Firefighters from Arlington, along with other Virginia and Maryland fire departments, are helping to fill D.C. fire stations and respond to calls in the District.
It's 4am, and our crews are getting ready to provide support to @dcfireems for #InaugurationDay2021. We will be among the many public safety and military assets from across the country to assist on this historical day. pic.twitter.com/IoOEUKJ5Cd
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) January 20, 2021
The fire department also has “additional resources” active in the county, should anything happen here.
Arlington emergency personnel are monitoring the inauguration activities in the county’s Emergency Operations Center, ready to respond to threats and incidents as needed.
Greetings from your County Emergency Operations Center, where we are monitoring Inauguration Day activities.
— Ready Arlington (@ReadyArlington) January 20, 2021
At the U.S. Capitol, meanwhile, the American tradition of a transfer of power to the new administration is underway. Among those attending the inaugural ceremony is Arlington’s congressman, Rep. Don Beyer.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) January 20, 2021
The newly-sworn-in President and Vice President will briefly visit Arlington this afternoon, as they and several former presidents — the Obamas, the Clintons and the Bushes — lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.
In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.
A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.
Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.
Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.
Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.
Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.
I-395 N diverts trucks @ Washington Blvd, 14th Bridge closed, delays from Pentagon with traffic diverting to GW Prkwy.
— WTOP Traffic (@WTOPtraffic) January 19, 2021
The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.
On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”
Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.
At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.
Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.
In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”
Newly unsealed charging docs: Virginia man, member of Oath Keepers militia allegedly involved in coordinating travel to DC for others. Sent a FB message on 1/1 saying the hotel they'd booked was a good location that would allow them to "hunt at night" https://t.co/SbhKZEUjE8 pic.twitter.com/SZmXnXtmSf
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 19, 2021
Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.
ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.
We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.
Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.
More Issues With Vaccination Effort — “Hoagland’s struggle to register for a vaccination started when he did not get a confirmation email back from Arlington County’s Health Department after adding his name to a virtual waitlist. After he got in touch with a representative who was able to confirm his spot in line, Hoagland learned that the county’s system is not able to push confirmation emails to anyone with a Verizon or AOL email account.” [WTOP]
Limited Vaccine Doses Available — “In a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon, the Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said after the current stockpile of over 900,000 first-round doses is exhausted, further doses may be slow coming. Avula said the commonwealth has been told by federal administrators that at least until sometime in March, there will be no more than 110,000 new first-round doses available per week for Virginians.” [WTOP, WRIC]
Teacher Vaccination Kicks Off — From County Board member Katie Cristol: “A great image from @Matt4Arlington, as 900 @APSVirginia educators get their first dose today – with 900 more to follow Monday. We are ready to replicate this scale daily for frontline workers and our community members & will keep fighting for as many doses as the state can send.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Car Crashes into Condo Complex — “A car crashed through a brick wall and into the side of the Barkley Condominiums along Columbia Pike today. No word on injuries.” [Twitter]
Injury at Powhatan Skate Park — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Earlier today we safely removed a patient during a minor technical rescue incident at Powhatan Skate Park. The patient had minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.” [Twitter]
Fundraising Effort Collects $120K — “More than $120,000 was raised in December to fulfill all of the year-end wishes of 24 Arlington-serving nonprofit organizations, part of an effort sponsored by the Arlington Community Foundation.” [InsideNova]
TAPS Tapped for Inaugural Events — “The Biden Inaugural Committee has announced participants in the virtual ‘Parade Across America’ for Inauguration Day. Two D.C.-area groups have been picked to take part in the parade, including the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, or TAPS, in Arlington, Virginia.” [WTOP]
Reminders: COVID Event, Wednesday Closures — Today at 5:30 p.m., as part of a national event “honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19,” Arlington is encouraging churches to ring their bells, businesses to light their buildings, and residents to put a lighted candle in a window. Tomorrow, due to Inauguration Day, county government offices and services are closed, and parking enforcement will not be enforced. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
(Updated on 1/17/21) A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. across the Potomac River are closing due to presidential inauguration security measures.
Virginia State Police is working with the United States Secret Service to close Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the I-395 Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge starting Tuesday morning through Thursday at 6 a.m., according to a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge closed Friday night but then reopened, according to news reports. The HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge was set to close Saturday morning until Thursday, according to the Secret Service, but was open as of noon on Saturday.
Those closures would leave the Key Bridge in Rosslyn and the Chain Bridge from N. Glebe Road as the main routes from Arlington into the District for two days.
“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far,” reads the lawmakers’ statement.
It was issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton.
“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum,” the lawmakers added. “All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”
Additionally, Metro announced this afternoon that the Pentagon Metro station will be closed, and bus service there suspended, on Inauguration Day.
“Blue and Yellow Line trains will continue to operate but will pass through the station without stopping,” Metro said. “The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed. Buses will be relocated instead to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes Street S. and 12th Street S. for the day.”
Arlington Cemetery station is also closing, along with a number of D.C. stations, starting today.
Virginia Railway Express trains, meanwhile, will not be running Monday through Wednesday, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and “enhanced security measures” related to the presidential inauguration.
While Arlington Acting Police Chief Andy Penn didn’t commit to any road closures in Arlington as of yet, he did say discussions are ongoing.
There will be more police officers on Arlington’s streets on Inauguration Day and the days leading up to it.
Some officers will be easily spotted, said acting police chief Charles “Andy” Penn. Others, not so much.
“There will definitely be an increased police presence throughout Arlington,” Penn said in an interview with ARLnow. “Some visible, some not visible.”
ACPD “will deploy increased police resources,” but there are “no known threats to Arlington County as this time,” the department noted in a press release Thursday.
The current focus is on the public safety and protection of Arlington residents, Penn says. He didn’t comment on whether ACPD has received any mutual aid requests from D.C. police or the federal government as of yet, but did say the police department hasn’t agreed to anything.
“At this point, we’ve not committed to any mutual aid requests outside of… the Commonwealth,” he said.
Prior to the U.S. Capitol riots, ACPD did receive and agree to mutual aid requests from D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Arlington police officers were seen defending the U.S. Capitol from pro-Trump rioters and insurrectionists in a video from Jan 6. They helped to replace “hurt and tired D.C. officers on the front lines,” according to a new Washington Post account of the chaos.
As previously reported, no ACPD officers were seriously injured and Penn confirmed that this remains the case.
Penn says that the department had a “significant number” of officers assisting MPD over three days last week, but none are deployed in D.C. currently.
Two U.S. Capitol Police officers and one Anne Arundel County officer are currently under investigation for alleged actions during the insurrection. Penn says no such investigations are taking place in regards to Arlington officers.
“I am not aware of any allegation that any members of this agency were involved in any unlawful behavior, he says. “And if we become aware, it’s certainly something we would investigate.”
Penn reiterated that as inaugural preparations are underway, the situation remains “fluid” and plans are subject to change. They’ve had staff assigned to inauguration efforts for weeks now, he says, but the events of the last ten days have changed some previous plans.
Penn added that the county is in constant contact with regional, state, and federal agencies and Arlington is committed to sharing both intelligence and resources with those partners.
“Our goal, collectively, is to make sure that we’re ensuring the safety of this region and doing everything proactively that we can to be prepared for that, have good response plans, and have appropriate numbers of staff,” he says.”
That could mean road closures. As of right now, no road closures are planned but discussions are underway about the potential necessity of doing that.
Same for potentially implementing a curfew, like last Wednesday.
“I think the curfew would depend on the situation at the time. There has been some minimal conversation about that, but there’s no plan to do that at this point,” Penn says.
Travel options Arlington and the District will be limited between. D.C. has announced road closures and Metro has announced numerous downtown Metro closures. Heeding the advice of local officials, Arlington Democrats have arranged special inauguration events in Arlington, in lieu of heading to the District.
ACPD is encouraging anyone who spots suspicious activity on Inauguration Day or in the days leading up to it, particularly in areas where crowds gather — “shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services, and public transportation hubs to name a few” — to report it immediately.
“The more we work collectively as a community, the safer we’re going to be,” Penn said. “We’re always better when we’re working as a large team in the Arlington community.”
The D.C. area is a bit on edge, and the sounds of howitzers firing this afternoon probably won’t help. But it’s necessary to prep for next week’s inauguration.
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall said today (Thursday) that the U.S. Army’s Presidential Salute Battery will be conducting “blank fire drills” this afternoon in preparation for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The drills are held as practice for “ceremonies in honor of the President of the United States, for visiting foreign dignitaries, during official government ceremonies, regional celebrations… and while rendering honors during the funeral services of our nation’s fallen service members and veterans,” a base spokeswoman previously told ARLnow.
Please be advised the @USArmyOldGuard, Presidential Salute Battery, will conduct blank fire drills in preparation for the 59th Presidential Inauguration this afternoon and tomorrow on the Fort Myer portion of the Joint Base. @MDW_USARMY pic.twitter.com/bCSBcgmo1F
— JBM-HH (@JBMHH) January 14, 2021
Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr courtesy of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Arlington Firefighters Getting Vaccinated — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “As @ArlingtonVA moves into Phase 1b of the #CovidVaccine rollout, we would like to thank @ArlingtonDHS and @VDHgov for helping us provide the first round of Moderna vaccine to 67% of our workforce so far.” [Twitter]
Ideas for Plant-Based Dining — Here’s a new list of “13 vegetarian and vegan takeout options to kickstart 2021” in and near Arlington. [Arlington Magazine]
Man Brings Lots of Bullets to DCA — “TSA officers at @Reagan_Airport stopped a man with 100 bullets in his carry-on bag at one of the security checkpoints last week.” [Twitter]
Reminder: Vote in the Arlies — If you haven’t already, vote for your favorite places, people, and businesses in the inaugural Winter 2021 Arlies. [ARLnow]
D.C. Dispatch Trouble for Crash Call — The fire department response to Tuesday night’s GW Parkway crash that sent two vehicles careening into the Potomac was delayed by cross-jurisdictional dispatch issues. [Twitter]
Downtown Stations to Close for Inauguration — “Metro will close 13 stations inside the security perimeter, with 11 stations closing on Friday and two additional stations on Saturday and continuing through the end of service on Thursday. During this time trains will pass through the closed stations without stopping.” [WMATA]