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Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph speaks to the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, Nov. 15 (via Arlington County)

Nine months after the summer camp registration process completely broke down yet again, the Arlington County parks department says it has identified ways to improve the process for summer 2023 and beyond.

Every year, parents get their clicking fingers ready to register at a given time — 7 a.m. for summer camps — and every year, error messages and spinning wheels thwart their ability to snag an enviable spot for their kids. In February, the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation department promised new changes would ensure this didn’t happen again.

But it did. On Feb. 23, DPR says registration volumes caused a “system-wide failure” while parents reported long wait times for the call center. Frustrated moms and dads wrote to ARLnow, tweeted and brought their complaints to the Arlington County Board, which penned a lengthy statement about expectations for reforming the process — only for the platform to fizzle and call center to get overwhelmed three weeks later for spring class registration.

Over the last seven months, DPR reviewed what happened.

“Our registration system could not handle peak volume,” Director Jane Rudolph told the County Board on Tuesday. “We really don’t have a ton of staff who are skilled at that technology piece of knowing how to use the system, so we have a lack of redundancy on our side. We didn’t have a great crisis communications plan.”

It asked staff and two focus groups — the general public and specifically, families who report receiving registration fee reductions — about changes they would like to see. Mostly, people said “fix the system,” but some suggested different registration times and dates and requested improvements to registering multiple children.

Ahead of 2023 registration, DPR says technology provider Vermont Systems will modernize its platform, last updated in 2015, and introduce a virtual “waiting room” function to manage volumes. The parks department will allow families with documented hardships to register a week early and expand its call center from 50 lines to 100.

The “waiting room” functionality was first rolled out for fall class registration and seemingly solved the issue of the system crashing completely, though some parents still reported problems, including errors, slow load times and classes that seemingly filled up within a minute.

“We wanted to create a less stressful registration process, so that parents and caregivers can go into the summer being confident their kids will have a great experience at Arlington camps,” she said.

Other recommendations include:

  • beginning registration at noon on a weekday, rather than at 7 a.m.
  • splitting up registration for DPR-led and contracted-out camps
  • enforcing a stricter refund policy to discourage last-minute dropping out
  • increasing capacity at popular camps to upwards of 100 slots
  • adding more full-day, year-round offerings
  • reducing camps with low-enrollment, low-capacity or which run half-day
  • implementing a crisis communications plan

Board members welcomed the work, particularly the effort to improve access for underserved families.

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A tennis court at Glebe Road Park was restriped for pickleball (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) A local civic association says a lawsuit may be imminent over the infamous pickleball pop.

In a recent community newsletter, Old Glebe Civic Association leaders detailed their displeasure with the county ending a pilot program that closed a popular standalone pickleball court at Glebe Road Park earlier this year.

The program was initially enacted as a means to mitigate the noise of the loud pop sound produced by a pickleball hitting a paddle that was bothering some close-by neighbors, primarily those who live on a dead-end block near the courts.

The OGCA called that pilot program a “compromise” since it also looked to appease players by restriping a nearby tennis court for pickleball so there were now four courts, as opposed to the previous three. But with the program now being “abandoned,” the newsletter says, “the noise issue has become more contentious.”

The county has since proposed another pilot program that would reopen the standalone pickleball court but with limited hours and surrounded by a “noise reducing fence,” a spokesperson with the Department of Parks and Recreation tells ARLnow.

However, the OGCA opposes any reopening of the pickleball court and wrote that if the county doesn’t find a better way to mitigate the noise, legal action might be taken.

“We hope that a new compromise can be reached before affected parties turn to law courts for resolution of the issue, as has happened repeatedly in other cities throughout the country,” the newsletter reads.

Pickleball has exploded in popularity over the last several years in Arlington. It has prompted players to ask the county for more courts — which the county is now expected to deliver after a bond referendum including $2 million for pickleball has passed.

The impact of the sport’s rise has not sat well with everyone, though. The crowds and noise — particularly the loud pickleball pop — at certain local courts have bothered some surrounding neighbors. This includes those who live near Glebe Road Park.

“The noise from pickleball has become a major problem for residents of nearby houses — particularly those living on the section of Tazewell Street off of 38th Street,” reads the OGCA newsletter. “Some of the houses are only 135 feet from a ‘stand alone’ pickleball court; the noise from the court reverberates across the amphitheater-like terrain downhill to Tazewell Street and can be heard distinctly (and constantly) inside the houses.”

These concerns are not unique to Arlington, with the county looking to other jurisdictions to figure out how best to broker a pickleball peace. The initial pilot program, which ran from April to early September, closed down the pickleball court closest to the houses, but also added two more courts to the park by restriping a tennis court.

While the county “learned a lot” from the pilot, it didn’t paint a “full picture” about the best way forward, a county official told ARLnow.

“Over the last several months tennis and pickleball players, despite some inherent conflicts, have adjusted to sharing the two multi-use courts at Glebe Park. The courts have been very busy,” DPR spokesperson Martha Holland said. “Throughout the duration of this pilot, we have heard from park users and neighbors alike about the need to reopen the stand-alone court and to allow for pickleball plus other recreational options (soccer, fitness workouts, etc.).”

So, in response, the county is instituting a “Phase 2” pilot program that will keep the striping on the park’s tennis courts and install a “noise reducing fence” on three sides of the standalone court.

“The side of the court that touches the basketball court will not be wrapped, for safety reasons. Once the fence is up, DPR will reopen the court and monitor its use,” said Holland.

In addition, the court will be available via a reservation system and the court lights will be turned off at 10 p.m.

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The Water Pollution Control Plant in South Arlington (via DES/Flickr)

Your poop could give Arlington County natural gas to power buildings or buses.

The county is developing plans to upgrade its Water Pollution Control Plant, where local sewage goes. One change involves installing technology that can harness the methane emitted when human solid waste is processed, turning it into renewable natural gas, a process some municipalities have already implemented.

The energy could be used to power the wastewater plant, homes and commercial buildings or become an alternate fuel for ART buses. The “sludge” created through this process can also be used as a fertilizer for gardens, forests, farms and lawns. (If you’ve ever used Milorganite brand fertilizer, you’ve used dried sewage sludge from Milwaukee.)

How sewage can become power (via Arlington County)

Improvements to the wastewater treatment facility, to the tune of $156 million, are part of a $177 million bond request for utilities upgrades, which also includes improvements the regional Washington Aqueduct system ($15 million) and new gravity transmission mains ($3 million).

Funding for this work would come from a half-billion dollar bond referenda that voters will be considering on Election Day tomorrow (Tuesday). Over $510 million will go toward this work as well as a host of initiatives, upgrades and maintenance projects that Arlington County adopted as part of its 2023-32 Capital Improvement Plan.

Some big-ticket items have already grabbed headlines, like the $136 million requested to build a new Arlington Career Center campus and $2 million to design a proposed Arlington Boathouse on the Potomac River near Rosslyn. But there are dozens of other upgrades proposed for facilities that Arlingtonians of all ages use on a regular, and sometimes daily, basis.

Renovations to existing county buildings and the construction of new ones surpass $53 million.

Highlights include:

  • $13.1 million for various renovations to Arlington’s police headquarters and, for the county’s courts building, technology upgrades, new finishes, a redesigned entrance and a relocated Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts division.
  • $12 million to fund the construction and renovation of some floors of 2020 14th Street N. to make room for ACFD Fire Marshal and Battalion Chiefs offices and other public safety staff and functions. It will also see the replacement of the building’s 60-year-old HVAC system.
  • $7.5 million to acquire land next to the Serrano Apartments to build a fire station there and improve response times on the west end of Columbia Pike, given the pace of development along the Pike.

Overall, Arlington Public Schools is asking for $165 million. Of that, some $12.24 million would pay for safer school entrances, a measure many school systems nationwide are implementing in the wake of high-profile shootings, and new kitchens to allow more meals to be made in-house.

“Upgraded kitchens will allow students to eat high-quality meals that include more fresh fruits and vegetables that are prepared on-site,” according to APS. “The entrance and security vestibule updates will comply with current safety and security standards while ensuring all visitors check in at the main office.”

Existing and modernized school kitchens (via APS)

Another $16.8 million would pay for a new roof for Escuela Key, the Spanish-language immersion elementary school, HVAC replacement at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School and lighting upgrades across schools.

The Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation is asking for nearly $22.5 million for a dozen projects.

That includes some funding $1.5 million to replace and renovate some stretches of the county’s nearly 40 miles of off-street, multi-purpose trails, 56 pedestrian bridges and 11 low-water fords.

Preschool- and school-aged kids could have new playgrounds at Bailey’s Branch, Monroe and Woodmont parks sometime in 2024 ($2.8 million). Douglas Park will see $2 million in improvements, including a new picnic shelter, pedestrian bridge, stormwater management, invasive species removal and reforestation.

Athletes who play at Kenmore Middle School could have new turf fields ($300,000).

There’s $1.1 million in funding to design new facilities at Short Bridge Park, near the border of the City of Alexandria, as well as $1.8 million to redesign Gateway Park in Rosslyn, which the budget says is “difficult and dangerous to access due to the surrounding high-speed roadways” and is “under-utilized.”

People who live in the Ballston and Virginia Square areas would be able to get in on the ground floor of master planning processes ($1.5 million) next year to upgrade Maury, Herselle Milliken and Gum Ball parks starting as early as 2025.

The second, $4.4 million phase of work on Jennie Dean Park will move forward, including demolishing the existing WETA building, two parking lots and a portion of 27th Street S., installing a lighted basketball court and converting the existing court for tennis use.

The growing pickleball population, sometimes at odds with neighbors, and the dirt trail-less mountain bike enthusiasts could get new facilities through $2 million to convert tennis courts at Walter Reed Community Center for pickleball use, draw pickleball lines on some multi-use courts and fund “design improvements to natural surface trails and mountain biking improvements.”

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There was a time when Arlington — Clarendon, in particular — was known for bar crawls.

There was Shamrock Crawl, the Clarendon Halloween Crawl, and Shirlington’s SantaCon. Thousands of mostly younger people attended. Along with the revelry, however, there were arrests, property damage, public intoxication, and nudity.

Then, in 2014, the Arlington County Board had enough and passed a number of regulations designed to allow local officials at least some control over how bar crawls operated in the county. It made event organizers apply for a special events permit, have insurance, and reimburse the county for any event-related expenses, like the cost of assigning extra police officers.

The regulations not only curtailed the number of incidents related to bar crawls but decreased the number of crawls in Arlington overall. From many people’s perspectives, the regulations worked.

Eight years later, the bar crawl scene in Arlington still hasn’t recovered.

Only 9 bar crawls have been issued special event permits since 2018, per data provided to ARLnow by the county’s Dept. Parks and Recreation (DPR), which manages the process.

“Pub crawls can draw a crowd and impact our community, so their organizers need to have a permit to hold a pub crawl,” DPR spokesperson Susan Kalish told ARLnow. “Special event organizers are required to pay any costs to the County due to their event, such as public safety, trash removal, and more.”

The upcoming crawls include an 80’s and 90’s themed crawl set for this Saturday (Sept. 17) in Clarendon. It’s being co-organized by local restaurateurs Christal and Mike Bramson.

There are two more bar crawl applications pending for this year as well.

While DPR said statistics are not available for permitted bar crawls prior to 2016, anecdotally and going through the ARLnow archives, it appears there are now far fewer bar crawls — especially those of the large, 1,000+ attendee variety — than prior to the enactment of regulations.

While the pandemic certainly impacted the last several years, 2018 and 2019 both only had 3 permitted crawls per year. That’s out of combined 401 permitted special events. With 2022 wrapping up, though, special events are returning to the level of the “before times,” including bar crawls.

“This fall we are pretty much back to pre-pandemic levels of applications,” said Kalish.

It takes a lot more to put on a bar crawl in Arlington today than it did in the free-wheeling days of the early 2010s.

“You’d be surprised how many people who are organizing a special event haven’t thought about all the specifics,” Kalish wrote. “Trash. Toilets. Noise. Flow. The [county’s] Special Events Committee helps them through a number of possible scenarios so they can have a successful event.”

How far in advance organizers need to submit their application, either 30 or 90 days, depends on a number of factors including the size of the crawl. Kalish noted crawls with only three or four establishments on the route usually require less time to process.

“The first year we had [permitted] pub crawls they were quite large, but recently they have gotten much smaller,” Kalish said.

A crawl or organizer “with a satisfactory history” of managing safe events also requires less processing time, as well as one that has a clear mapped route.

Because of these regulations, guidelines, and extra costs, though, some companies have decided to forgo organizing crawls in the county and instead stick to a place where the process is more straightforward and there’s no shortage of potential young and single attendees: the District.

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Map showing donated parcel of land in the Donaldson Run area (via Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board voted Saturday to accept a donation of land that will become an addition to the county’s park system.

The parcel that has been offered to the county is 40,024 square feet, subdivided from the lot of a home located near Marymount University and the intersection of 26th Street N. and N. Wakefield Street. The Terborgh parcel, as it is being called, is also located near the 44-acre Zachary Taylor Park and is adjacent to the Donaldson Run Trail.

The parcel was offered to the county by the executor of the estate of Anne Terborgh, who passed away in June 2021. The gift of the parcel to the county was recorded in Terborgh’s last will and testament.

A condition of the transfer of ownership to the county is that the land remain in a natural, undeveloped state, according to a restrictive covenant.

The covenant does allow for upkeep of the land by the county, which would include the control and removal of invasive species. It also allows access to the land by the public and the addition of a park bench or sign that acknowledges the property’s rules and the gift of the land by Terborgh.

The county expects to spend $3,000 on the acquisition of the parcel, including the costs of examination of the title, title insurance, recording fees, and other closing costs. The funds for the closing costs would be allocated from the county’s park land acquisition fund.

It was not immediately clear when or how the parcel will eventually be opened to the public.

Another parcel is slated to be donated to a land trust.

“Because Ms. Terborgh’s will directs one of the other lots in the resubdivision to be conveyed to the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT), staff has also communicated with staff from NVCT about the proposed conveyances,” said the staff report to the County Board.

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Fall 2022 Arlington parks and rec class registration poster

Arlington’s fall aquatics class registration did not go swimmingly for many who attempted it on Wednesday.

On the plus side, there appears to have been some degree of improvement from past meltdowns.

Until now, the quick clicking fingers of Arlington parents were virtually undefeated in bringing down even the beefiest of servers that the county’s tech vendor could assign to the competitive class and camp registration process.

Such was the case in February, for summer camp registration, and in March, for spring class registration. From our March article:

Waitlists, error messages and a call line 90 people deep thwarted Arlington residents’ attempts to enroll in spring classes through the parks department this morning.

The Department of Parks and Recreation offers a variety of classes in the spring, fall and winter that range from gymnastics and swimming to ceramics and jewelry making. The classes for kids are particularly popular with local parents. And registration day system failures — like those from opening day of summer camp registration — are not new for these classes, either.

Some compared the registration process to “getting front row Bruce Springsteen tickets” — to wit, “stressful and horrible.” […]

After summer camp registration crashed immediately upon opening the morning of Feb. 23 — despite attempts to beef up the platform in advance — parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the platform vendor conducted “tests and improvements that should have resulted in a smooth registration” on Wednesday morning.

That did not happen.

More drastic measures were taken after March’s fiasco. The parks department, through its vendor, Vermont Systems, introduced virtual waiting rooms while staggering the registration for different types of classes.

Ever-popular gymnastics and swim classes, for instance, each got their own day this week. The goal was to prevent a crush of people all trying to register at once for the limited class spots.

That worked, to an extent, but there were still plenty of parent grumbles and reports of bugs in the online system.

“Totally unsuccessful for me,” one person reported on the popular Mothers of North Arlington (MONA) listserv. “Lots of errors, stalling out of the site, etc. I hope others had better luck.”

“We logged in exactly at [noon] and we’re unable to sign up for anything,” wrote another. “All wait-list sections also filled up within a minute apparently.”

“Virtual wait-room” for fall aquatics class registration

One parent’s effort, observed by ARLnow, had them placed 633rd in line to register for youth swim classes despite having arrived in the virtual “pre-wait room” well before registration started at noon. The parent was informed that the system “randomly assigned people to make selections.”

Ultimately, that parent was only able to get on a waitlist for a class.

On social media, other parents reported an array of bugs and errors.

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, in a statement to ARLnow, acknowledged the issues and said the department is working to improve the process.

Despite the problems, more than 2,000 enrollments were processed in the first hour of class registration on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kalish said. The third and final registration window — for nature, history and other, general classes — opened earlier today.

Kalish’s full statement is below.

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Morning Notes

The sunset reflected in the rain, as seen from Pentagon City (photo courtesy Dave Statter)

Guilty Plea in 1998 Murder — “The case of Andrea Cincotta, a librarian and single mother who was found dead in her Arlington apartment, remained an unsolved mystery for nearly 24 years… On Wednesday, [Bobby Joe Leonard] pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge, admitting that he strangled Cincotta to death more than two decades ago. And he claimed he did so hoping to be paid by a man he believed to be Cincotta’s boyfriend.” [Washington Post]

Metro Upping Rail Service on Local Lines — “Welcome news for customers who ride the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. As of Aug 1, trains will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays, matching service on the Green and Yellow lines. For most customers, the wait for a train will be no longer than 5-8 minutes, as most stations are served by at least two if not all three lines.” [WMATA]

Meteor Over Arlington — “Bright meteor from west Arlington, looking WNW tonight!” [Twitter]

Prohibition Tour of Arlington — “Arlington’s wholesome present hides some scandals of the past. You don’t even want to think of the vice – gambling, prostitution, you name it – that raged unchecked in Rosslyn… Park historian John McNair will lead a short walking tour on the Clarendon area on Aug. 12 at 3 p.m., detailing stories of local bootleggers and the government agents who attempted to stop them.” [Sun Gazette]

Fall Rec Class Catalog Released — “Special Delivery – ENJOY Arlington. We are excited to provide you with recreation, nature and history programs this fall.” [Dept. of Parks and Recreation]

F.C. Is Wealthiest Place in Va. — “According to a study from SmartAsset released this week, Falls Church residents rank the wealthiest in Virginia. The study assessed wealth by comparing counties across three categories: the amount of investment income residents receive, total per capita income and the median home value… After Falls Church, Arlington County and Fairfax County follow in second and third place for the top 10 wealthiest localities in Virginia.” [Falls Church News-Press]

It’s Friday — Rain and storms — some potentially severe — in the afternoon, evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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A tennis court at Glebe Road Park was restriped for pickleball (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

More pickleball courts are likely coming to Arlington as local players urge the county to provide more support.

Last week, County Board member Libby Garvey and Nakish Jordan from Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation paid a visit to the outdoor pickleball courts at Walter Reed Park, near the community center. They were there to talk about what the county was doing to create more courts for a sport that continues to grow in popularity.

That includes striping more courts and potentially building dedicated outdoor pickleball courts at Walter Reed Park.

Today (July 18), the County Board is set to vote on a new Capital Improvement Plan that includes $2 million for more pickleball courts. If the plan is approved, several tennis courts at Walter Reed Park would be converted into dedicated pickleball courts, Jordan told players.

“This is central county. Lots of people come out. There’s plenty of parking [here],” Jordan said about why this was a good spot for more courts. “And there are bathrooms here.”

Even if the plan gets approved today by the County Board, though, it could take a couple of years before new courts are built.

Voters would need to pass a bond referendum in November and, then, community engagement would happen early next year, DPR spokesperson Susan Kalish told ARLnow in an email. After that, design and permitting could happen mid to late next year. Finally, construction could begin in late 2023 and be completed sometime in the summer of 2024.

The timeframe for restriping a number of existing tennis and basketball courts for multi-use so that pickleball could be played on them as well is a bit quicker. Kalish noted that could be done by next spring, provided the CIP and bond referendum both get passed.

In total, the CIP dedicates $2 million to pickleball projects, including the Walter Reed Park courts and the restriping project.

Despite these assurances about the future, a number of players expressed their annoyance to the county officials about a lack of courts amid burgeoning demand. The courts are often filled to capacity, several people said, leaving players with long waits for their turn to put paddle to ball.

“We need more pickleball lines on under-used tennis courts,” said a resident. “While [the Walter Reed Park courts] are being renovated, we will need other places to play.”

Garvey noted that there isn’t only so much court space in the county. Despite pickleball’s growth, players need to share the space with other sports, she said.

“We need to keep in mind everyone who needs things… as a County Board member, I need to think about everybody,” Garvey said. “Even the people who aren’t here and we don’t hear from — [we need to] make sure we are serving them as well. We are going have to find a way to co-exist.”

There are currently 11 indoor and 20 outdoor multi-use courts where pickleball can be played in the county.

However, one popular court at Glebe Road Park has been shut down over the summer due to the sound the ball makes when it hits the paddle drawing complaints from neighbors.

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Morning Notes

Sunset over Rosslyn and Arlington National Cemetery (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Obit for Legendary Land Lawyer — “Martin D. ‘Art’ Walsh, co-founder of one of the most prolific land-use law firms in Northern Virginia, died Monday at the age of 78, his firm announced. A cause of death was not released… A year before Walsh Colucci’s founding, Art Walsh was the subject of a Washington Post profile as one of Arlington’s best known land-use attorneys.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Leader May Get Historical Marker — “A venerable and venerated leader in Arlington’s one-time Little Saigon community is likely not to have a local park in his honor. But that doesn’t mean the county government won’t do something to memorialize the legacy of Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who died six years ago after 40 years of service to residents in the area… Nguyen could be remembered by an historical marker, said Diane Probus of the county government’s Department of Parks and Recreation.” [Sun Gazette]

Shots Fired in Buckingham — “4200 block of 2nd Road N. At approximately 1:34 a.m. on June 8, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard in the area. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired. No injuries or property damage were reported. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

Bike Theft Near Ballston — “3900 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 11:55 a.m. on June 7, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 5:00 p.m. on June 6 and 11:30 a.m. on June 7 an unknown suspect gained entry into a locked storage pod and stole approximately seven bicycles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

It’s Thursday — Possible light rain in the morning, then mostly sunny during the day. High of 79 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Firefly (photo by Bruce Marlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Arlington Firefly Festival is returning to Fort C.F. Smith Park next month.

On Sunday, June 19, the festival celebrating insects that light up summer nights is back for the first time since 2019. Last year, a smaller firefly “prowl” (essentially, a nature walk) was held due to the pandemic.

This year there will be firefly arts and crafts, bug bingo, storytelling, a nature walk, and flashlight games. All are encouraged to go on a firefly hunt, catching and releasing the twinkling bugs.

Naturalists will also be on hand to explain how to best attract fireflies and ways to maintain backyard habitats to encourage insect visitors.

“Fireflies are fascinating and inspire a sense of nostalgia for many adults,” saud the press release. “The festival is an opportunity to introduce the next generation of citizens to the wonders of the night sky and the value of natural spaces.”

The event is sponsored by the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. Registration began last week.

In general, fireflies are not lighting up the night sky as they used to.

“There are fewer, like a lot of insects,” says Rita Peralta, Outreach Manager at the Long Branch Nature Center and in charge of putting on the festival. “It’s largely referred to as an insect apocalypse. Like a lot of animals, it’s due to, mostly, habitat loss.”

But on warm Arlington summer nights, fireflies can be found across the county. The best place to see their nightly light show is near undistributed mature trees, in areas that have little light pollution.

That’s why Fort C.F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood is a great spot for the festival, says Peralta, because of its tree canopy and open meadows.

There are about 2,000 different firefly species in the world, with anywhere from 24 to 36 species calling our region home. Their ability to light up is part of their mating process, but one local species uses the light as a way to attract a meal.

“One local firefly species — the Femme Fatale or Photuris genus — is predatory,” noted the release. “The female will send a false signal to a male of another species to attract him and will then eat him when he arrives to mate.”

The festival starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs for two hours. Admission is $7 and tickets can also be purchased at the event, in addition to online. Heavy rains will cancel the event and there’s no rain date.

As of today, more than 100 people have already registered online, according to the county’s website.

Photo by Bruce Marlin via Wikimedia Commons

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The $15 million newly renovated Jennie Dean Park is reopening to the public this weekend, complete with a motorcycle parade, live music, and a celebration of local baseball history.

The opening festivities are set to take place this Saturday from noon-3 p.m. at 3630 27th Street S. in Green Valley, down the street from Shirlington.

It will begin with a “mini-parade” featuring the Crossroads Riders Motorcycle Club and the Young Divas Dance Team, who recently performed at the opening of the John Robinson Jr. Town Square. The program will include remarks from Arlington County Board members and the Green Valley Civic Association, as well as a recognition of the park’s baseball history.

A number of the former semi-pro and amateur players who took their swings at Jennie Dean Park during the mid-20th Century will gather as well.

There will also be a ribbon cutting, a snow cone stand, food, music from JoGo Project, and a basketball tournament for teenagers, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.

“Due to the projected weather forecast on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-90s, a water fill station will be set up at the event with cold, filtered water,” the spokesperson noted.

The Shirlington Dog Park parking lot on the 2700 block of S. Oakland Street will be closed during the event, but the dog park itself will remain open.

A lengthy design and construction process resulted in a major renovation of the park, which first opened to the public in 1944. Approximately $15.5 million was spent to completely redo the park.

More than two acres were added along with an updated, ADA-accessible playground that now has age-separated areas. The new restrooms are all-gender, in keeping with a county ordinance, and moved to the front of the park. The picnic shelter has a sustainable, green roof, which is next to renovated basketball and tennis courts.

The two baseball diamonds were moved out of the Four Mile Run floodplain and have new efficient LED lights. The fields are also now named after two long-time community stalwarts, Ernest Johnson and Robert Winkler.

The diamonds will also display pennants of historic Green Valley teams, designed in collaboration with the civic association, that played at the park over the last 70 years.

Along the sidewalks near the diamonds is a history walk, embedded with plaques marking significant moments in the park’s and neighborhood’s history.

There’s a new site-specific work of public art in the western portion of the park. Wheelhouse is a stainless steel multi-sectioned pavilion that “​explores the industrial history of the Jennie Dean Park site through the lens of the great American pastime — baseball.”

The park is named after Jennie Serepta Dean, a formerly enslaved woman who opened the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in the late 19th century.

It was initially set to reopen late last year, but permitting delays pushed it back a few months.

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