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Crowds gathered at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park today (Monday) to witness the partial solar eclipse.

The sky became noticeably darker as peak eclipse approached around 3:20 p.m. Scattered applause broke out from visitors donning eclipse glasses to watch the rare celestial event. Beyond Rosslyn, another public viewing was held at the GMU campus in Virginia Square.

The eclipse reached 87% totality in Arlington on a partly cloudy day, following weeks of national hype as well as weekend events at Arlington Central Library and the David M. Brown Planetarium.

Arlington’s last solar eclipse was in 2017, and the next total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States won’t happen until 2044.

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This past weekend was spring forward for time. This week as been spring open for cherry blossoms.

Thanks to warm and sunny weather, tree blossoms have been opening at a rapid clip, and that includes those on Arlington’s cherry blossom trees.

Blossom seekers can enjoy the bloom by visiting some of the local sites with cherry tree clusters, including:

  • Cherrydale Baptist Church (3910 Lorcom Lane)
  • Arlington National Cemetery (1 Memorial Ave)
  • Long Bridge Park in Crystal City (475 Long Bridge Drive)
  • Quincy Park in Virginia Square (1021 N. Quincy Street)
  • Welburn Square in Ballston (901 N. Taylor Street)

Arlington has a few events and activities planned coinciding with blossom season, including a pop-up market with local vendors at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City and live music at the Crystal City Water Park.

The more famous Tidal Basin cherry blossoms in D.C., meanwhile, have reached the final stage before peak bloom. The National Park Service made the announcement this morning.

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Easter Bunny at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (via Fashion Centre at Pentagon City/Facebook)

Spring is just around the corner and so is the Easter Bunny.

The folkloric rabbit will hop over to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street) starting next week, for photo opportunities all month long.

The mall encourages guests to reserve a 15-minute slot for photos with the bunny now and “make it an Easter tradition.”

The spring hare will be hopping around the first level in Nordstrom court on the following days and times, according to the reservation website.

  • Friday, March 15:  2-7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 16: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 17: 12-6 p.m.
  • Monday, March 18: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 19: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 20: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 21: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Friday, March 22: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 23: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 24: 12-6 p.m.
  • Monday, March 25: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 26: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 27: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 28: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Friday, March 29: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 30: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Before photos on March 17, children with special needs and their families can visit with “Caring Bunny” during a “sensory-friendly event” from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Reservations are required for the event.

Photo via Fashion Centre at Pentagon City/Facebook

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This week, Arlington County recognized a handful of public facilities projects and privately developed apartment and office buildings for their sleek designs.

Top projects in honored in the biannual DESIGNArlington competition received “The Excellence Award.” Others were recognized with “Merit Awards” and “Honorable Mentions” for promoting county goals “in affordable housing, biophilic design, public art, historic preservation, or education.”

“Thank you to the jurors who took the time to review submissions and select our winners,” Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis said in a county announcement. “These projects truly showcase the best of Arlington.”

Architectural, planning and design professionals judged the contest.

The Excellence Award winners are:

  • Lubber Run Community Center (Arlington Forest) — “With architecture rooted in its sense of place, this net-zero energy building features recreation areas, covered gathering spaces, connections to nature trails, and open space.”
  • 1770 Crystal Drive (Crystal City) — “This 1970s-era, concrete building transformed into an engaging, vibrant National Landing anchor — including floor-to-ceiling glass, a new curtain wall system, and metal grid expression.”
  • Clarendon West (Clarendon) — “Three residential buildings introduce new life into the neighborhood and transition between the Wilson Boulevard commercial district to Lyon Village’s single-family homes.”

Merit Awards, meanwhile, went to:

  • Pierce Condominiums (Rosslyn) — “This residential tower’s glass and stone exterior showcases a bright and airy structure dubbed the Lantern, with contrasting dark brick.”
  • Cardinal Elementary School (Westover) — “The design optimizes use of the existing building while seamlessly combining new construction to achieve a dynamic educational facility.”
  • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Comfort Station (Rosslyn) — “This new facility for visitors to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial intentionally occupies a small piece of the landscape — maintaining direct views as well as providing a comfortable and respectful experience.”
  • Centro (Columbia Pike) — “Developed using the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, this luxury apartment building includes ground-floor retail, below-grade parking, and is designed around a public plaza with native plantings — enhancing the area for the entire neighborhood.”
  • Fire Lines (Rosslyn) — “A façade enhancement for Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn, this stainless steel and bronze sculpture represents a powerful spray of water and improves the pedestrian experience without impeding the functionality of the station.”
  • Crystal City Water Park (Crystal City) — “A Crystal City public space renovation that’s already proven to be popular – this project activates the streetscape and public space with vibrant retail kiosks, restaurants, and other site improvements.”

Some Honorable Mention recipients include Jennie Dean Park in Shirlington and Ruthie’s All Day restaurant in Arlington Heights.

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When Jay Westcott joined ARLnow in September 2019, he said one of his main focuses was covering the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 and its impact on the local community.

He could not have foreseen that within just seven months, he would be documenting some of the most consequential years not only for Arlington but for the entire world.

“The global pandemic changed the way we do business, shop for groceries, dine out, and live our lives here in Arlington,” he told ARLnow.

After nearly two decades in the field, Westcott is stepping away from news to focus on his other interests, including portraiture, storytelling and music. He leaves behind a vast archive of photos that captured scenes from the pandemic, major storms, Black Lives Matter protests and Arlington’s changing landscape.

The gallery above features 145 of Westcott’s favorite photos, chosen from thousands to represent his four-plus years of capturing life in Arlington.

“I have tried my best to show Arlington in all its forms and show how much I love living here,” he said.

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Jay Westcott (courtesy of Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) ARLnow’s staff photographer, Jay Westcott, is stepping away from the news industry — but he isn’t putting his camera aside just yet.

At 51, Westcott is shifting his focus from the fast-paced world of daily news photography to focus on the sides of photography that align with his other passions, including portraiture, storytelling and music.

“I’m looking forward to just concentrating on the things that I’m really good at,” he told ARLnow.

Growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan, roughly two hours west of Detroit, Westcott displayed a passion for photography from a young age, often using his dad’s camera to shoot yearbook pictures in high school. It wasn’t until after high school when he joined the U.S. Navy that Westcott’s passion for the visual medium began to flourish.

Four years after he joined the service when Westcott was aboard the USS Roosevelt, a Navy photographer reignited his interest in camera work.

“He had this really cool camera… and I just loved what he was able to do with that, the pictures he could get from that, and he convinced me to buy a camera,” Westcott said.

He wrote to his mother, asking her to mail his dad’s camera and bought a 35mm Canon autofocus SLR. In the years that followed, he documented life aboard the ship and the countries he visited around the Mediterranean, including Rhodes, Greece, and Venice, Italy.

Westcott, who is also a guitarist, remembers the day he decided he would leave the Navy and pursue photography. While browsing Guitar World magazine in his bunk one day, he came across a photograph by the renowned Seattle-based American photographer Charles Peterson, who was promoting his new book “Touch Me I’m Sick.”

“Instead of being one of the guys in the photos in the magazine, I wanted to be the guy taking the picture,” Westcott said.

King Baby Man Child (by Jay Westcott)

In 1996, Westcott was honorably discharged from the Navy and headed to Virginia Beach, where he met his now ex-wife and sold cars for several years before moving to Northern Virginia.

In the summer of 2000, at age 28, Westcott enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College and then transferred a year later to George Mason University to study photography. About a year into his tenure at George Mason, and disillusioned with the program, Westcott applied and was accepted on a scholarship to The Corcoran College of Art and Design (now a part of George Washington University) in D.C.

“I went there for three years and loved every second of it,” he said.

Westcott’s first big break was a paid internship at the Scripps-Howard news service in D.C., which operated for 96 years from 1917 to 2013. What launched his career, however, was a chance sighting of of an armored truck robbery near McPherson Square Park, where he saw a man wielding a shotgun.

“So, I go out, and I take a couple of pictures and then go down to the street and take a few more pictures,” he said. “The guy gets hauled away in an ambulance while he was handcuffed.”

The pictures Westcott took that day got picked up by the Washington Post, which offered Westcott a full-time staff job shortly after.

“I felt I started at the top,” he said.

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It’s the halfway point of the 2023 Arlington County Fair today.

The county’s annual summer gathering resumes with outdoor hours from 2-10:30 p.m. and indoor hours from 4-10 p.m. The fair — which features games, rides, food, musical performances and fun for all ages — runs through Sunday, Aug. 20 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.

Hours for the remaining days of outdoor fair activities are as follows.

  • Saturday, Aug. 19: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (sensory friendly hours); 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 20: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (sensory friendly hours); 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

During sensory friendly hours, the fair aims to limit loud music and other noises.

Visitors can expect the traditional collection of entertainment and competitions, as well as a variety of food and drink options. Admission is free, according to the fair’s website. Ride tickets can be purchased online or on site, with each ride typically requiring 3-6 tickets.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott made a return visit to the fair earlier this week and noted a more carefree vibe than recent years.

“Biggest crowd I’ve seen since before the pandemic,” Westcott observed. “People seemed genuinely happy.”

Westcott’s photos, as well as a reader’s contributed photo, are above. A press release about the fair, noting some of the new features, is below.

Celebrating over four decades of tradition, the Arlington County Fair returns this week with entertainment and excitement for all ages. One of the East Coast’s largest free events attracting more than 125,000 visitors annually, the Fair is open from August 16-20 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and Park. The five-day extravaganza showcases the vibrant spirit of our community through competitive exhibits, thrilling rides, live music, local vendors, and much more.

The Fair opens with a formal ceremony and ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, August 16 at 5 p.m. at the playground in front of the TJ Community Center. The public is invited as we celebrate unity in diversity and embrace the spirit of inclusivity that “A Fair for All” represents.

Highlights of this year’s Fair include:

  • The New District Brewing Company’s family-friendly beer garden features beer and wines along with a Root Beer Float Fire Truck that both kids and adults can enjoy.
  • The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ ArtMobile exhibit, “Revealing and Obscuring Identity: Portraits from the Permanent Collection.”
  • A Night Market on Thursday, August 17, from 5:00-10:00 p.m., where local makers will showcase their exquisite creations.
  • Sensory-friendly hours will provide a calm and welcoming environment on Saturday, August 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 20, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. These hours are dedicated to creating a space without lights or sounds, with the addition of Arlington County’s Therapeutic Recreation Office’s sensory tent for additional comfort and calming activities.
  • The Indoor Vendor Showcase features over 75 local vendors within the Thomas Jefferson Gym.
  • Punch Bowl Social introduces an indoor pop-up park, while partner Nova Systemic sponsors a hands-on STEM area catering to kids of all ages.
  • Performances by Drew Blue Shoes and Rocknoceros and other local talent.
  • Odyssey Events’ Axe Throwing.
  • eBike rides with BikeArlington.
  • Pie-eating contest with Livin’ the Pie Life and the Arlington Jaycees

Visiting the Fair

For more details about transportation and parking, hotels, daily schedule of events, and operating hours, or to purchase ride tickets, visit the Fair website.

Background

The Arlington County Fair is a 501c(s) nonprofit volunteer-driven organization that embraces a diverse community by educating, entertaining, and showcasing the best of Arlington. The Fair would not be possible without the support of individual donors, our corporate sponsors, and our close partnership with Arlington County and the Arlington County Department of Recreation.

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Missed the fireworks on the National Mall last night? Or just want to relive the Fourth of July grandeur?

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott brought his cameras to the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn to capture the show and some of those watching the show.

Unlike past years when weather resulted in extra haze that obscured the fireworks, the 2023 edition benefited from clear skies and relatively pleasant temperatures.

The fireworks viewing was not the only Independence Day celebration of note in Arlington. Neighborhood events were held throughout the county, including the annual parades and block parties in places like Barcroft and Douglas Park.

Have your own photos to share? Show them off in the comments.

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It’s Memorial Day weekend in Arlington.

The flags are in at Arlington National Cemetery, ‘Rolling to Remember’ participants are rolling up to local hotels, and the 35% of locals who say they’re traveling for the weekend have been keeping National Airport busy.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott has been out and about over the past day or so, documenting some of the scenes around the county. Providing an assist is Army photographer Elizabeth Fraser, whose photos of the “Flags In” event were published online by Arlington National Cemetery.

This was the 75th annual Flags In at the cemetery. More, below, from the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

An honored tradition.

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” and other service members placed American flags at headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., in advance of Memorial Day.

This was the 75th anniversary of “Flags In,” during which service members adorn gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery to honor the nation’s fallen heroes.

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We’re getting our first official look into the mostly completed first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City.

Amazon shared photos this morning from inside the two-building, 2.1 million square foot office complex, located along S. Eads Street between 12th and 15th streets.

The photos are notable for what they don’t show: rows of cubicles for the thousands of employees that are expected to work from HQ2. Instead, the photos show richly appointed, lounge-like spaces, a cafeteria and food market, outdoor grills, the park space outside of the building, and other recreation opportunities like a billiards table.

Phase 1 of HQ2 has around 50,000 square feet of retail space, with more than a dozen businesses ranging from a bike shop to a doggy daycare to several restaurants and bars.

A grand opening for the new complex is expected in mid-June. The second phase of HQ2 — to include the distinctive, lush Helix tower — is delayed indefinitely amid economic uncertainty and continued work-from-home trends following the pandemic.

An Amazon-written media kit and fact sheet about HQ2 Phase 1, also known as Metropolitan Park, is below.

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ARLnow is ringing in the New Year with a look back at 2022 through our photo and story archives.

Our photographer, Jay Westcott, compiled a slideshow, above, to encapsulate the stories and moments that made 2022 memorable and remind us of the sights and seasonal shifts that make Arlington home.

After two years of living with Covid, the last 12 months held a continuing return to normalcy in tension with a deepening divide over how Arlington should look and function. On discussions of housing shortages, pedestrian fatalities and fluctuating crime rates, there is a sense that something needs to be done — exactly what remains the question.

The “Missing Middle” housing study and proposed zoning changes embodied this tension the most. While never cracking the Top 20 stories of 2022, the county’s incremental steps toward legalizing housing types such as duplexes, three-unit townhomes and buildings with up to six or eight units in districts zoned exclusively for single-family homes roiled the county.

Residents staged rallies for and against the proposed zoning changes, broke anecdotal Planning Commission meeting attendance records, booed and hollered in a County Board meeting, opined about the “Arlington Way” and ginned up more interest in the Arlington County Board race — one that ultimately went for incumbent Democrat Matt de Ferranti.

In response, the Arlington County Board added community engagement sessions and directed staff to make a number of changes to the proposal, which members later said address some community concerns.

High-profile crashes, including two pedestrian deaths, led residents and the County Board to demand more action on traffic safety. But with crash causes as diverse as alcohol, high speeds, unspecified medical emergencies and sun glare, could slower speeds, road treatments and education ever eliminate pedestrian deaths and serious injuries?

Questions also remain about how prosecutors and judges should serve criminal justice. We took a close look at competing assertions about whether reform efforts led by Arlington’s top prosecutor, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, are tackling or enabling crime rates.

Still, Arlingtonians came together to mourn the loss of a man and a teenager who each left an indelible mark on their community.

Activist Kent Carter, who died protecting his girlfriend during a shooting on the island chain of Turks and Caicos, was remembered as a family man who led efforts to reform and establish community oversight of the police department. Washington-Liberty high school senior Braylon Meade, who died in a car crash involving a drunk teen, was remembered for leading his basketball team by example.

As evidenced in this year’s gallery, construction hummed along, as Washington-Liberty High School expanded, apartments were built and the first phase of Amazon’s second headquarters prepares to open next year.

Amid all this, the pandemic receded farther into the rear view window for many. Masks became optional in schools, county facilities and on Metro and airplanes earlier this year. Arlington County permanently closed its public vaccine clinic a week before Christmas and has shuttered testing sites.

Yesterday (Thursday), many of you said 2022 was better than 2021. We at ARLnow wish you an even better 2023.

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