ARLnow is ringing in the New Year with a look back at 2021 through our photo archives.
We compiled a slideshow to encapsulate this year and recall some of the stories and moments that made 2021 memorable.
This year, Arlingtonians celebrated local heroes, pushed for and saw cultural changes and said goodbye to venerable institutions — all against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic.
Arlington removed vestiges of Robert E. Lee’s legacy, renaming Route 29 Langston Blvd and replacing the county logo depicting his house with one that ARLnow readers helped bring about. Teens protested how public school administrators handle complaints of sexual assault while bus drivers demonstrated for better pay and treatment. Locals picked up free cannabis seeds after private use was legalized.
But 2021 was the end of an era for some beloved Arlington institutions: Inner Ear Studios, the recording studio for Minor Threat and Fugazi; Clarendon watering hole Whitlow’s on Wilson; the Highlander Motel; and a few (arguably) historic estates.
Amid all that, the pandemic continued to run its course. After a chaotic start, the county helped to administer the vaccine to tens of thousands of residents. Locals started eating out again, kids returned for in-person school, and there was optimism about a return to normalcy over the summer — until that faded with the Delta variant and, now, Omicron.
With that we’ll step aside for the long weekend and see you back here on Monday, in 2022. Happy New Year, Arlington!
By most accounts, 2020 was a tough year. Despite hopes for better, 2021 certainly had its rough moments, too.
The pandemic is still here and, at least in terms of new cases from the latest variant, remains well underway. The stock market it up for the year, but the last half of 2021 hasn’t been kind to many investors amid inflation and stretched supply chains. And the country still appears to be inexorably divided politically, as was put on full display this past January.
There are hopeful signs for next year: maybe, just maybe, the pandemic ends and enters an endemic phase, while the economy looks fundamentally strong and there’s always hope that what unites us turns out to be stronger than that which divides us.
We had lots of hope for 2021 and the dawning of the Covid vaccination era, but reality and new variants intruded on dreams of a full return to normalcy. Perhaps 2022 will be different. Or more of the same.
What do you think? Are you optimistic that the new year will be better than 2021?
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.
A fracas at a local hotel on New Year’s Day prompted a large police response early Friday morning.
The incident happened during some sort of New Year’s Eve party at the Embassy Suites hotel in Crystal City, on the 1300 block of Richmond Highway. Police responded after a report of a fight, and encountered “a large crowd in the lobby of the building and multiple fights in progress throughout the hotel.”
A 21-year-old Dumfries resident was subsequently arrested for allegedly having a concealed gun without a permit.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2021-01010006, 1300 block of Richmond Highway. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of a fight. Upon arrival, officers located a large crowd in the lobby of the building and multiple fights in progress throughout the hotel. While dispersing the crowds, officers made an observation consistent with that of a concealed weapon on the male suspect’s waistband and made contact with the individual. It was subsequently determined that he was in possession of a concealed firearm without a valid permit. Martine Neal, 21, of Dumfries, Va., was arrested and charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon and held on an unsecured bond.
At the same location, nearly two hours later, police responded after two people were reportedly attacked “by a group of approximately ten male suspects.” From ACPD:
ASSAULT BY MOB, 2021-01010038, 1300 block of Richmond Highway. At approximately 2:18 a.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined a verbal dispute occurred between parties inside a hotel room. As the two victims attempted to have the other party leave the room, they were assaulted by a group of approximately ten male suspects. The suspects fled the area prior to police arrival. Both victims suffered minor injuries and were transported by medics to an area hospital for treatment. There is no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.
Also in today’s ACPD crime report, a woman who was cleaning a room in a business had to break a window with a chair in order to flee a man who allegedly locked the door, took off his pants and touched her inappropriately.
The name of the business was not specified, but it happened on the 3300 block of Lee Highway, which is home to the Inns of Virginia hotel and several other businesses.
ABDUCTION WITH INTENT TO DEFILE, 2021-01020061, 3300 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 10:20 a.m. on January 2, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Arriving officers located the suspect exiting a room and took him into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the victim was cleaning a vacant room within a business when the male suspect allegedly entered the room and locked the door behind him. The victim then attempted to unlock the door, however, the suspect got between her and the door and re-latched it. The victim attempted to unlock the door several more times unsuccessfully. The suspect began to touch the victim inappropriately, then removed his pants, at which time the victim was able to break a window to an exterior hallway outside with a chair and escape the room. She sustained minor injuries during the incident. Khalil Martin, 27, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Abduction with Intent to Defile, Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny/Assault & Battery, Sexual Battery, and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.
NY Man Arrested for NYE Gunfire — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the discharge of a firearm which occurred in the Rosslyn area on the morning of January 1, 2021. At approximately 1:48 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun in the 1500 block of Clarendon Boulevard… officers observed the suspect on the sidewalk holding a firearm as they arrived on scene. The suspect was compliant and taken into custody without incident.” [ACPD]
First Arlington Baby of 2021 — “What a way to ring in the #newyear! Welcome to the world, Mohamed! Our first [Virginia Hospital Center] #newborn of #2021 was born at 1:18 am this morning. Congratulations to the family, and thank you for letting us celebrate the new year with your bundle of joy!” [Twitter]
Parent Files Suit Against APS — “An Arlington Public Schools parent wants his daughter back in class so badly, he plans to file a lawsuit against the district. ‘We started the fundraising today, and we’ve already gotten a lot of great contributions from fellow parents,’ Russell Laird told Fox 5 Wednesday, referring to a GoFundMe campaign launched in an effort to raise $10,000 that would be used to sue Arlington Public Schools.” [Fox 5]
Nat’l Landing Touts Transpo Projects — “National Landing, the renamed neighborhood of Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yards in Arlington and Alexandria, will become the country’s most connected urban center sometime in the next decade, its business boosters say. Eight major transportation projects are underway in the area, with the aim of turning what is often seen as a busy pass-through into a truly urban neighborhood where residents, office workers and visitors have easy access to local and regional amenities as well as long-distance travel.” [Washington Post]
Local Nonprofit Sees Surge in Aid — “The financial assistance nonprofit Arlington Thrive is helping four times as many people as families are devastated by COVID-19. ‘I was never thinking this would happen in America. I was working hard. I was working three jobs. I lost all three jobs,’ one client, a cook, waiter and ride-share driver, told News4’s Pat Collins.” [NBC 4]
Bikeshare Station Work — “Pardon our dust! In Jan & Feb, some @bikeshare stations in Crystal City, Pentagon City, & Potomac Yard will be replaced, expanded, moved, or removed and may be OFFLINE for a few hours or days.” [Twitter]
Reminder: Bus Changes in Effect — “Riders on the Arlington, Virginia, bus system will once again have to pay fares and enter the bus through the front door starting on Sunday. Arlington County said that both practices were suspended by Arlington Transit (ART) last March, but fares can now be paid by either using the SmarTrip card, SmarTrip app or by exact change at the fare box, while plastic glass barriers have been installed to protect the drivers at the front of the bus.” [WTOP]
DCA Expansion to Open Mid-2021 — “The 230,000-square-foot concourse on the north side of Reagan National Airport looks ready for passengers. The exterior walls are up. The roof is on. The terrazzo floor is almost in. And 11 of the 14 new jet bridges are being installed… The concourse is slated to open in July, but plans are in the works to do a ‘soft opening’ ahead of that date. An announcement is expected early next year.” [Washington Post]
Local Homeless Org Seeking Donations — “An organization in Arlington who helps the homeless now needs your help. Bridges to Independence in Arlington is a family shelter that has had to reduce the number of people they help due to COVID, but the need for help remains high. ‘We’ve served at least 22 new families since the pandemic and we are expecting an increase going into the new year,’ Whitfield said. [WJLA]
County Board to Meet with CivFed — “Immediately following the Jan. 4 organizational meeting of the Arlington County Board, the five members will hold an online gathering with the Arlington County Civic Federation. The 90-minute confab is designed as the opportunity for elected officials to expound on their priorities for the coming year, and for Civic Federation delegates to give feedback to pre-screened questions and, if time is available, questions from the floor.” [InsideNova]
It’s New Year’s Eve — ARLnow hopes you and yours have a happy new year. We are on a limited publishing schedule today; our news coverage will return in full on Monday. County offices and facilities, meanwhile, will be closed tomorrow, on New Year’s Day.
Seven Arlington residents have died of COVID-19 complications since last Wednesday, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
As of this morning, VDH reported 181 cumulative COVID-related fatalities, up from 174 on Dec. 23 — an average of one per day. Sixteen new hospitalizations were also reported during that time.
Arlington’s seven-day trailing average of new coronavirus cases currently stands at 80.6 cases per day, after reaching a pandemic record of just over 100 cases per day on Christmas day. The cumulative total of local cases since early March is now 8,786, according to VDH.
With many people planning New Year’s Eve get togethers despite the pandemic, Arlington County this week encouraged residents to take precautions.
“If you are celebrating the New Year with people outside your household, make sure you follow steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask; Stay at least 6 feet apart; Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces; Wash your hands; Stay home if you are sick,” the county said, echoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“Consider other activities to celebrate New Year’s, including virtual celebrations with loved ones, a New Year’s party for the people you live with or picking up a special meal from a local restaurant to share with your household,” the county said.
Christmas and the New Year are coming up, and with the holidays come a number of closures and changes in Arlington.
“Arlington County Government offices and services will be closed on Thurs., Dec. 24 and Fri., Dec. 25 for the Christmas holiday, and Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day,” according to the county website.
Arlington libraries will also be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and parking meters will not be enforced on those days.
Additionally, residential trash and recycling collection on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 will be shifted to Saturday, one day later. ART buses will operate on a modified Sunday schedule on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
A $1 million winning New Year’s Millionaire Raffle ticket from the Virginia Lottery was sold in Arlington — but as of Thursday afternoon no one has stepped forward to claim it.
The lottery says three winning $1 million tickets were sold — in Chesapeake, Arlington and Portsmouth. Another 5 tickets hit for the $100,000 prize, including one sold at the Pentagon City Harris Teeter store to an Alexandria man.
No other details about the $1 million ticket sold in Arlington were immediately available, other than the fact that it has thus far not been claimed, according to a lottery spokesperson. The winning raffle numbers were selected on New Year’s Day.
Virginia Lottery “generates more than $1.7 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools,” according to a press release. In Fiscal Year 2019 “an additional $6.5 million in unclaimed prizes was deposited in the Virginia Literary Fund… which provides low-interest loans to localities for public school construction, renovations and technology upgrades.”
Bill Would Allow Open Containers in More Places — “A bill introduced in the Virginia General Assembly would let more shopping center developments offer open-container access under the state’s liquor laws. Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, introduced the measure… The change could theoretically benefit at least a couple of developments in Favola’s backyard,” including the Village at Shirlington and Market Common Clarendon. [Washington Business Journal]
County Board Organizational Meeting Tonight — “The Arlington County Board will elect its 2020 County Board chair and vice-chair at its Organizational Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the County Board Room, Room 307 in the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center. The Board also will adopt procedures for 2020 and name Board members to represent Arlington on regional bodies.” [Arlington County]
Bank Robbery Suspect Also Faces Charges in Bethesda — “One of three suspects who stole $60,000 worth of jewelry from a Bethesda, Maryland, shop in mid December was arrested Monday after robbing a bank in Arlington, Virginia, police say. Derrick Lamont Graham, 42, walked into the BB&T bank at 2200 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon on Friday and gave a note to an employee that implied he had a weapon, Arlington County police said.” [NBC 4, WTOP]
New Year’s Eve Problems — From a local Nextdoor user: “Hi everyone I lost the keys to my apartment last night somewhere in Clarendon. If anyone has found a key chain with 1 single key, a fob, and a white “tile,” please contact me!” [Twitter]
Christmas Tree Collection Underway — “Trees collected by the County the first two full weeks after Christmas are turned into mulch available from County facilities. From Dec. 30 through Jan. 10, place trees at curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing ALL decorations, nails, stands. Do not place trees in plastic bags.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Amazon Continuing to Hire for HQ2 — “By the end of 2020, Amazon plans to reach nearly 1,600 employees at the Arlington headquarters, and by December 2021 it expects more than 3,500 workers. The hiring will accelerate further in 2023 and beyond.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlingtonians Drop Off Tons of Glass — “Cheers to a successful start to Arlington’s glass recycling drop-off program. The County is closing out 2019 with more than 1 million pounds (500 tons) of collected glass for recycling in less than nine months. That’s equivalent to the weight of 27 ART buses.” [Arlington County]
Courthouse Apartments Trade Hands — “Bell Partners Inc., based in Greensboro, has acquired Vista on Courthouse, a 220-unit multifamily complex in Arlington, Virginia. The property will be renamed Bell at Courthouse and will be managed by Bell Partners. The acquisition from Equity Residential is Bell Partners’ second this year in Arlington.” [Triad Business Journal]
Reminder: NYE Events in Arlington — For procrastinators, here’s ARLnow’s listing of notable New Year’s Eve events in Arlington. [ARLnow]
Photo courtesy Dave Statter