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For those who were up early enough to see it, Mother Nature gave autumn a grand entrance with this morning.

The purple-and-pink sunrise, coming on the heels of Monday night’s Harvest Moon, dazzled across the area.

The photos above were taken by reader John Antonelli near the Hatfield Gate gate to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, on the bridge over Washington Blvd. Below is from Rosslyn-based WJLA’s weather camera at Army Navy Country Club.

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The Arlington County Fair kicked off Wednesday afternoon complete with rides, games and deliciously high-calorie fair food. And there’s more fun ahead this weekend.

The fair is open from 2-11 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds, at 3501 2nd Street S.

Baby goat yoga classes, introduced in 2019, return to the fair this year. Classes start at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and cost $40 a session.

There will also be robotics demonstrations today, tomorrow and Sunday in the gymnasium.

And, for $5, folks can enter the fair’s pie-eating competition on Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. Contestants will compete to see who can eat a slice of Triple Berry Pie, from Arlington-based Livin’ the Pie Life, the fastest.

Synetic Theater will also perform its show, The Miraculous Magical Balloon, for the second and final time at the fair tomorrow at 4 p.m. This kid-friendly performance tells the story of a traveling actor and his magical trunk through pantomime and choreography.

The fair will continue to feature rides, games, food vendors, axe throwing and musical performances.

In addition to transit options, this year’s event will have some on-site parking spaces for fairgoers in the Alice West Fleet Elementary School garage on 115 S. Old Glebe Road. Overflow parking will be available at the Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Blvd).

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Thought it was partially obscured by smoke near the end, Sunday’s Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall dazzled.

In case you missed it, local photographers captured the scene from a number of angles, including from vistas in Arlington like the Iwo Jima memorial, Long Bridge Park, the Clarendon/Courthouse area, and the Crystal City/Pentagon City area.

For fireworks aficionados, the countdown to next year’s Independence Day show now begins. July 4 will fall on a Monday in 2022.

Flickr pool photos by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Photographer Taking Silly Cicada Snaps —  “Oxana Ware is a talented photographer based out of North Arlington, but along with her business side, she likes to have fun and be a little silly at times. That’s why it just seemed right to her when she decided to have a full photoshoot with cicadas, complete with handmade props.” [WJLA]

County Marking Sit-In Anniversary With Art — “It was delayed a year due to the pandemic, but a commemoration marking the 1960 civil-rights sit-ins in Arlington is now beginning. The Arlington County government had planned to mark the 60th anniversary of sit-ins at Arlington lunch counters with special programming on the Arlington Art Truck, using prints by artist Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. to immerse the public in the experience, in 2020. But the effort was a victim of the pandemic – until now.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington-Based Axios Making Moves — Digital news outlet Axios, based in Clarendon, is launching local news publications in a number of cities this year, including Washington. It is also reportedly in discussions to be acquired by a German news conglomerate. [Washington Post, Marketwatch]

Masks Coming Off For APS Athletes — “It looks like Arlington school officials have abandoned their masks-on policy for most athletes while engaged in competition.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD Assists with Potomac Search — “Person seen going into Potomac River & not resurfacing… [After a search involving D.C., Arlington and other water rescue teams, medics] transported an adult female in critical life threatening condition. Law enforcement will investigate the circumstances.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Secretary Pete at DCA This Afternoon — “U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Mary Kay Henry, International President of the two million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will host an immigration roundtable discussion with 32BJ SEIU’s airport workers at National Airport (DCA).” [Press Release]

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We get it, 2020 was not a great year in many respects. But it was without a doubt a momentous year in both local and national history.

It took a little while to compile, but ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott has created a video (above) highlighting some of the photos that defined 2020 in Arlington. The music is of Jay’s creation as well.

“2020 was, at least for me, a year of challenges. Relentless challenges,” Westcott said, of his experience photographing the area throughout the year. “The pandemic has reshaped our world, we’ve been forced to rethink ways of going about daily life. It’s been a year of pain and loss, a year of grief and anxiety. But watching Arlington as it adapted to the lockdown and pandemic, and watching people together for each other was inspiring and amazing to witness. I am proud to call Arlington home.”

For a look back at the most-read articles of the year, see our Top 30 Arlington Stories of 2020 countdown.

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Photos: Snow in Arlington

Arlington had its first measurable snowfall of the season today, offering some natural beauty before the sleet and rain washed much of it away.

Snow started falling from the overcast sky around 10:30 a.m. today, and small crystals turned into big flakes by noon.  The roads, some treated and some not, became slick as the afternoon went on.

ARLnow staffers, including photographer Jay Westcott, saw a few fender benders while we were out and about, along with a few cars failing to make it up hills in neighborhoods. Perhaps heeding warnings from local officials, not many people were out and about today, which is a good thing.

The amount of snow that fell varies depending where in Arlington you were. At National Airport, the official National Weather Service measurement was a “trace.” Elsewhere in the county, there were separate reports of a half-inch, 1 inch and 1.5 inch, with the larger amounts further north.

Though it’s raining now, the snow may not be done. Forecasters say another round tonight may drop another inch or so of snow before the storm passes and the precipitation stops.

Staff photographer Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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It’s a sight that still stands out for its oddness: a huge parking garage normally packed with cars, almost totally empty.

Six months ago, at the springtime height of the pandemic in Arlington, ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott embarked on a photo essay project to document some of the eerily abandoned office and retail parking garages in Arlington.

At the time, there was just too much news to report and we never ended up publishing the photos. Until today.

Above is a look back at the empty parking garages of Arlington, amid the coronavirus lockdown. Below are Jay’s recollection of the assignment.

When I look through these pictures of empty parking garages, taken back in April and early May, I remember how it felt to be in them: cold, lonely, nervous. Despite being public garages, they were closed because of the stay at home order. Nobody was going in the buildings around them, and without cars the weirdness that is an underground parking garage or a multi-level above-ground garage is reduced to its basic elements: concrete and columns.

These parking garages might be getting more use now, six months later. And maybe one day they will have bike races in them again. One can only hope.

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Even COVID-19 could not stop an opportunity for adorable pet photos around the holidays.

During two weekends in November, local pet owners can get family portraits ready for seasons-greetings cards with the holiday edition of Porch Portraits, a pandemic-proof fundraiser by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

“Have a holiday pajama party, bring out your favorite party looks, deck your pet in their holiday gear, any holiday fun you’d like to capture,” the announcement from AWLA said.

The organization has hosted holiday “Pet Pawtrait” sessions before, but this year will look different: The event will span three days and will be socially distanced. Sessions will take about 10 minutes, with a minimum donation of $100, and participants will receive at least three professional digital images within 10 days.

As holidays approach and the pandemic continues, AWLA is focused on supporting the community as people cope with job losses, including via its pet pantry and veterinary support, AWLA Events Coordinator Hollie Dickman said.

“We never want food or resources to stand in the way of people keeping their pet,” she said. “We want to keep pets with the people who love them as much as we can, especially during holidays and COVID-19.”

Sessions are open for Nov. 14, 21 and 22 and participants must be residents of Arlington or Alexandria. Registration for sessions on Nov. 14 end Sunday, while registration for the weekend of Nov. 21-22 ends next Sunday, Nov. 15.

Participants select the date, but AWLA will coordinate times so photographers can do back-to-back sessions in the same neighborhood. Times may range from 8 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Those who want to notify AWLA of times that do not work for them are asked to contact Dickman at [email protected]

Participants must have a porch in front of their house or an outdoor area, such as a park, in front of their condo or apartment complex where pictures can be taken.

All portraits will be taken from a 6-foot distance with no direct contact between the photographer and the household, the announcement said.

Local photographers Mike Leonard, Jeremy Robin and Erinn Shirley will be taking the portraits.

This is the second socially-distant porch portrait session AWLA has run to raise funds this year. The first occurred in May, two months into mandated restrictions due to COVID-19.

Leonard had been doing porch portraits during the pandemic and asked to donate his services to AWLA as a fundraiser, Dickman said. The impromptu fundraiser generated $3,000 from 25 participating families.

“I thought that was a great success,” she said. “We are anticipating a similar turnout, we hope to see that $3,000 raised again.”

Family portraits courtesy of Hollie Dickman. Christmas dog (top) via AWLA/Facebook.

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Nearly 25% of respondents to a recent ARLnow poll said they were either decorating less or not at all this Halloween season.

Around Arlington, however, there is no shortage of spooky decor. That is particularly true along the traditional haunted hotspot of N. Jackson Street in Ashton Heights, despite plans to scale back the Halloween night revelry there this year.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott noticed that fewer houses along N. Jackson Street were decorated this year, but those that have decorated did so with the usual ghoulish gusto.

“The ones that have decorated have certainly gone all out,” Westcott said. “Lots of ghouls and ghosts and plenty of skeletons are out and about.”

Westcott has also seen signs at some houses waving off trick-or-treaters altogether. Another ARLnow poll from a month ago suggests that just under half of respondents are planning to sit this year out in terms of distributing treats to roving bands of children. Just over 36% said they’ll be leaving treats out for trick-or-treaters to grab, and about 17% said they’ll answer the door and distribute treats as usual — something health officials discourage.

Arlington has no plans to regulate Halloween activity this year, beyond enforcement of existing state health guidelines, but the county is strongly discouraging large groups and parties.

Other than N. Jackson Street, where are you seeing particularly festive Halloween decorations this year? Let us know in the comments. Here is one honorable mention, and here is another.

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The following was written by ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott, before he underwent successful hip surgery on Tuesday. Jay is doing well and about to start physical therapy. We expect him back on the Arlington beat in September.

I’ve been trying to write about the last four months or so for a few days now. It seems like a blur, right? Or maybe it just seems that way because staring at a blank screen for days has made everything blurry. Now then, where are my glasses?

Four months ago, toward the end of February, someone dear to me died. She suffered a long illness and I documented things along the way, trying to make sense of what was happening the best way I know how: through a lens.

One week after the funeral, Virginia was in lockdown because of Covid-19. I hit the ground running with an N95 mask and my cameras and with that same purpose, trying to make sense of what was going on by getting to work and documenting things as best as I can through my lens.

The running part has been difficult, let me tell you.

About 11 years ago, when I was living in Westover, I quit smoking. Awesome, right? I knew that I needed a lifestyle change and that regular exercise had to be a part of it. I never really cared for running and being so close to the Custis Trail I figured I would get a bike and see how it went. I instantly fell in love with the freedom and the speed and I rode all the time. I loved it. I even joined the Arlington-based cycling club Squadra Coppi and started racing.

In the fall of 2010 I started feeling pain in my hip. It got progressively worse and in 2011 I learned I had a condition called Femoral Acetabular Impingement. My femoral head and hip socket were shaped abnormally, limiting my range, and the repetitive motion of cycling likely exacerbated things tearing the tissue in my socket. I had arthroscopic surgery at Virginia Hospital Center in July 2011 to reshape my femoral head and acetabulum and pin down the soft tissue. After 9 months of recovery and physical therapy I was able to throw a leg over a bike again. I even raced one month before the first anniversary of my surgery. I finished 22nd, but on the lead lap. 😉

Fast forward to the spring of 2018 and I started having that familiar intense pain in my left hip again. Between dealing with the Veterans Administration health care system and moving for a job, it wasn’t until December 2018 that I had another arthroscopic surgery to remove bone growths and repair tears in my hip socket. I was out completely for 8 weeks and wore a brace for 12 weeks, locking it straight when I slept.

The results of that surgery have not been so great. Despite two rounds of physical therapy I deal with daily, continuous pain in my hip. It’s gotten progressively worse, to the point where I am having trouble sleeping. In early February I learned that I would need another arthroscopic surgery or possibly a replacement. Then Covid-19 hit. A telehealth appointment in March ended with the VA telling me to “come back after coronavirus, maybe June?”

While covering 7 protests in 7 days at the beginning of June, I also saw a couple hip specialists and had a 3D CT scan. I’ve literally worked myself to the bone for you, Arlington! The consensus is that while I could probably have another arthroscopic surgery, the recovery is very long and at some point soon I’m going to need a replacement anyway. It might as well be now.

I’m scheduled for an anterior approach total hip replacement on July 7 with Dr. Gautam Siram at an outpatient surgery center in Bethesda, Md. I’ll be out completely for 6 weeks, and will be on some form of light duty after that for a number of weeks depending on how my recovery goes. He’s a Washingtonian “Top Doc” and came highly recommended, and accepts my insurance. Luck be a lady tonight.

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We asked our staff photographer, Jay Westcott, to document a pair of notable events Friday in Arlington.

First up: the partial reopening of local restaurants and businesses. After that, a Marymount University graduation parade down N. Glebe Road.

The photos are above. Here is what Jay wrote about what he saw around the county:

I spent the bulk of my day walking around Clarendon and Ballston with restaurants preparing to open as the county proceeds into Phase One of reopening. There weren’t as many people eating lunch outside as you would normally expect on a balmy late May afternoon, in fact there weren’t many at all. A couple of tables of folks at Northside Social, a few tables at Circa in Clarendon. There still seems to be sense of anxiety in the air about what’s next. It’s palpable.

As I was walking up Wilson Blvd I spotted a bright white cap and gown. I caught up to the young man, Josh Cisneros, and made a picture of him about to cross the street as we got caught at the light. We got to talking and he is graduating today from Wakefield High School. He looked around for a minute, hoping to spot someone familiar to take his picture with his phone, but he found none. Well, I wasn’t about to let that stand. I made a few pictures of Josh in his cap and gown, with his diploma, on his graduation day. Congratulations, young man!

At lunch I made pictures of Marymount University’s Class of 2020 parading in cars with a police escort down Glebe Road. Sirens wailed, horns honked, and lights flashed. Grads cheered out of sunroofs and side windows, some filmed TikToks. Later Friday, I swung by the Village at Shirlington and photographed groups of people on outdoor patios, enjoying a first dinner out since mid-March.

What I saw today was Arlingtonians adapting and going forward. We have to, right? Be safe, be kind. Keep the faith, keep wearing masks, keep washing your hands.

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