Arlington Forest native Mark Riley has been managing the Arlington Turkey Trot for a decade and enjoys being called “Chief Turkey.”
“It’s fun. And if you are having fun, you can do great things,” Riley (or Chief Turkey) told ARLnow. “If you are not having fun, it’s very difficult to get people to want to do anything.”
The annual Thanksgiving 5K is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 8 a.m. this year, starting on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. The race is likely returning to the course — through the Lyon Park and Ashton Heights neighborhoods — that was run prior to the pandemic, per the event’s website.
Wherever this year’s race may trot through, Riley plans to be there donning a turkey costume as he has since 2013.
“This community loves to get together in a festive, heartening, helpful, friendly, joyous atmosphere. [The turkey trot] has become a tradition in Arlington County over the years,” Riley said. “People keep coming over, over, and over again. They bring their kids. Then, the kids who grow up bring their kids. And it just keeps going on and on.”
The Arlington Turkey Trot was first started in 2006 by Christ Church of Arlington Pastor Brian Webster and his wife Diane. That first run had about 300 joggers, runners, and walkers. This year’s race is expected to attract about 4,000 trotters and raise about $120,000 for assorted local charities, equivalent to pre-pandemic numbers.
Riley said that initially the trot only supported a few organizations, but last year they expanded the number of charities that received funds to 18. Those include Path Forward, Arlington Thrive, R.E.A.D., Phoenix Bikes, and others.
“A number of nonprofits, typically smaller budgeted non-profits, have been knocking on [our] door to say we want to be included,” said Riley. “We did not know how to say no to any of them. So, we included them all.”
For his work over the years, Riley is being presented with a “Spirit of Community” award by the Arlington Community Foundation next week. The acknowledgment had him “tearing up,” he said because it’s a reminder of how passionate the community is about helping others.
There was some gobbling that Riley may be hanging up his feathers as the Chief Turkey after this year’s race, but he said those rumors are fowl.
Yes, 2021 was particularly tough due to the lingering impact of Covid and a shortage of police officers, but this year has proven Riley still has the energy of a poult. With a bit of extra support and taking on fewer tasks, he said that the plan is to keep on gobbling as Chief Turkey “for the foreseeable future.”
Besides being able to provide for those less fortunate in the community, what Riley really loves about the trot is seeing the joy it brings so many people. On often-chilly Thanksgiving mornings, watching families run together and kids darting across the finish line fills him with warm feelings.
Adding to the good vibes, every kid that finishes gets a medal.
“The thing that really resonates for [me] when I think of the trot is… joy. I think of joy probably more than anything else,” Riley said. “People who have big, joyous smiles on their faces. They love the turkey trot.”
The annual Army Ten-Miler race will prompt numerous road closures in Arlington this weekend.
Runners will zip through parts of Rosslyn, D.C. and Pentagon City, starting and finishing the race near the Pentagon.
“The 38th annual Army Ten-Miler race will occur on Sunday, October 9,” Arlington County police noted last week in a press release. “The race begins at 7:50 a.m. on Route 110, crosses the Key Bridge into the District of Columbia, returns to Virginia via the 14th Street Bridge in the northbound I-395 HOV, and ends in the Pentagon reservation.”
“The Arlington County Police Department, Virginia State Police, United States Park Police, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency will conduct road closures to accommodate the race,” ACPD said.
Planned road closures include parts of Army Navy Drive, S. Eads Street, Route 110, northbound I-395, and N. Lynn Street and Long Bridge Drive.
Metro plans to operate on a normal Sunday schedule while opening the Pentagon station after the start of the race, directing participants to use the Pentagon City station instead.
The planned Arlington road closures, from the ACPD press release, are below.
In 39 days, some 30,000 runners will descend on Arlington for the first in-person Marine Corps Marathon since the onset of Covid.
The in-person race on Oct. 30 — canceled in 2020 and 2021 — comes with a new Pentagon City location for the gateway to the Runners Village, the sprawling area providing “essential pre-start support” to runners, including portable restrooms, baggage drop-off and a water station.
“We are excited to announce the new Runners Village Gateway for the MCM and MCM50K is now located at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Fern Street,” organizers said in an email. “This new Runners Village Gateway is only a change in location for participants.”
The village used to be located in the Pentagon North Parking lot.
The start line for marathoners is located on Route 110, just before the Memorial Drive. Runners will cross the finish line in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial in the Rosslyn area.
Participants taking the Metro are encouraged to use the Pentagon Metro station, but now can also ride to the Pentagon City Metro station. Metro will be opening at 5 a.m. on event morning, except for the Arlington Cemetery station which will open at 8:30 a.m.
Signage and volunteers will help direct runners to the village.
Those who drive will have free parking available at the underground lot near 23rd Street S. and Crystal Drive. A shuttle will transport runners to the Runners Village Gateway and at the Finish Festival to transport them back to their cars.
Additional, paid parking can be found at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
The Runners Village for the 10K is located on the National Mall, near the start line for that race. Registration is still open for the 10K, according to the website.
Registration is also open for the one-mile Kids Run. The race, open to children ages 5-12, will take place on the Long Bridge Park esplanade next to the recently opened Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center. This race was held at the Pentagon North Parking Lot in prior years.
DCA Sign Changes Start Tomorrow — “We’re making it easier to find your gate! Beginning June 4, we will be updating our signage to include a letter in front of each gate number. Don’t worry, no airlines or gates are actually moving!” [Twitter, DCist]
Summer Reading Program Underway — “The Arlington County library system’s summer-reading program kicked off June 1 and will run through Sept. 1. ‘Readers of all ages are invited to immerse themselves in reading, participating in 500 free programs and explore the 2022 theme, ‘Oceans of Possibilities,” library officials said.” [Sun Gazette]
Weekend Road Closures — “There are planned road closures to accommodate the 2022 Armed Forces Cycling Classic bicycle races, which will take place during the weekend of Saturday, June 4 – Sunday, June 5, 2022.” [ACPD]
New Name for Park Near HQ2 — “Before the HALRB’s meeting of May 18, it looked like “Teardrop Park” would be a runaway choice for the new space, which will be bounded (in a teardrop shape) by South Eads Street and Army Navy Drive and bisected by 11th Street South… But at the HALRB meeting, Berne stopped that train in its tracks by countering with “Arlington Junction Park,” which would pay homage to an important trolley-line nexus of the last decade of the 19th century and the first four decades of the 20th.” [Sun Gazette]
Free Donuts Today — “It’s National Donut Day on Friday, and several eateries in Virginia and Washington, D.C., are offering a sweet deal or two to lure in donut lovers across the state.” [Patch]
Paper Calls for Return of SROs — “One wonders if Arlington’s School Board members will have a change of heart, now that there is a national drumbeat for more, not less, public-safety presence in schools. Sadly, one presumes not.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 78 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]
The annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed race, sponsored by Ireland’s Four Courts and organized by Pacers, will shut down Wilson Blvd between N. Courthouse Road to N. Rhodes Street starting at 6 a.m. and, then, the rest of Wilson Blvd to Route 110 starting at 8:30 a.m.
Northbound Route 110 will also be closed from I-395 to I-66 starting at 8:30 a.m. Southbound Route 110 will remain open through the duration of the race. Metro buses will continue to operate, though detoured.
All the roads will reopen at 11 a.m.
Arlington County Police Department recommends using Route 50 to get to Courthouse Road and Langston Blvd to get through Rosslyn. Street parking will be limited in the area, so be on the lookout for “no parking” signs.
Runners and spectators are encouraged to use Metro or other forms of “multimodal transportation.”
The Four Courts Four Miler is one of a number of St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Arlington. The race was canceled in 2020 due to the emerging pandemic and was virtual last year. This year, it’s back to being in-person, though there remains a virtual option.
The race starts at 9 a.m. The first half of the course is downhill while the second half is uphill, notes the race information page.
After the run, the nearly-three-decade old Irish pub in Courthouse will host live music and Irish dancers all day, until last call at 1:30 a.m., per the pub’s website.
Mary Kadera says she’s had a change of heart about the Arlington’s Democratic party’s School Board endorsement caucus, which helped her to land a School Board seat.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee holds a caucus to determine which School Board candidates are bona fide Democrats and should be considered for the party’s endorsement. It’s not a primary, since school board races in Virginia are nonpartisan, but the results are similar to one because losing candidates agree not to run in November.
It’s been criticized by the Arlington NAACP and the pandemic-era group Arlington Parents for Education for, among other reasons, effectively limiting participation by communities of color, confusing voters and limiting the range of qualified candidates.
Arlington Democrats debated in February whether to use the caucus this year. After a spirited discussion, members — including Kadera — voted overwhelmingly (117-22) to keep it.
Now, she says, the dissenting voices she heard made her realize “holding on to the Caucus comes at too great a cost.”
“[A]t its very heart, this question is about white people needing to cede and share power with people of color, and that doing so is not a zero-sum game,” she writes.
Many critics of the caucus who spoke in February were Black, including community activists Wilma Jones and Zakiya Worthey, an Arlington Public Schools parent representing a new group called Black Leaders of Arlington.
They said the caucus is a glaring exception to progressive Arlingtonians’ commitment to racial equity. They argue the majority of caucus voters come from heavily white areas of North Arlington and pick well-connected, establishment Democrats who don’t prioritize the students of color in APS who have fallen behind.
“It’s faux-progressive and surface level,” Worthey tells ARLnow. “A lot of Black advocates, when we’re fighting, we’re not fighting against Republicans — we’re fighting against so-called progressive Dems.”
Kadera credited Jones and Worthey for her change of heart.
“They reminded me that hearing and valuing the voices and lived experiences of people of color means that when many of them are telling me that I am perpetuating a system that does them harm, I need to prioritize that over any ‘what if’ scenarios that make me afraid to dismantle the system,” she said.
Caucus proponents, including current School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, member Cristina Diaz-Torres, and former member Monique O’Grady, who is Black, posed those “what if” scenarios in their arguments for keeping the process. They and others said without it, the School Board is open to “Republican infiltration,” even in heavily Democratic Arlington.
Kadera conceded that this “very well could” happen, but it’s not for certain unless ACDC tests it out.
The local party says it is still open to suggestions for improving the process, the rules for which will be decided in mid-March and ratified in April.
“We are going to continue the community engagement and we’d love to hear from stakeholders and interested groups in the community who have ideas on how to make the process better,” ACDC Chair Steve Baker said during a meeting last night (Wednesday).
The caucus is slated for June with in-person voting at some public schools and likely a handful of other places that are in South Arlington or Metro-accessible. Voting last year was held electronically due to the pandemic and participation surpassed local records.
ACDC members will go door-to-door in under-represented precincts to inform people how they can participate.
Jones, Worthey and Arlington NAACP President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. tell ARLnow that they are still formulating their next steps.
“We’re going to keep working,” Jones said.
Candidate Questioned About Age — “Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who previously told news outlets that she is in her early 50s, appears to be two decades older, according to government records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clement, a perennial candidate who largely has self-funded her independent campaigns for local office, said that asking for her age amounted to discrimination and violated her right to privacy.” [Washington Post]
Road Closures for Biden Event — “On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, President Joe Biden will attend a special event at Virginia Highlands Park, located at 1600 S. Hayes Street in Arlington. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event… All road closures are anticipated to be lifted by 10 p.m.” [ACPD]
DARPA Building Sold — “The home of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is under new ownership. An affiliate of Cleveland-based Boyd Watterson Asset Management has acquired the 13-story, 355,000-square-foot building at 675 N. Randolph St. in Ballston for $196.5 million, according to public records. An affiliate of the Shooshan Cos., which developed the building a decade ago, was the seller.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Name Change Celebration — “It’s now been 101 years, but that’s not going to stop the Arlington County government from celebrating the 100th anniversary of its current name. County officials expect to hold a celebration of the switch from ‘Alexandria County’ to ‘Arlington County’ on Friday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lubber Run Community Center.” [Sun Gazette]
Marymount to Promote ‘Racial Healing’ — “In the latest example of Marymount University’s commitment to raising awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, the institution has been selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to host a new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.” [Marymount University]
County Seeking Design Award Nominees — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is accepting submissions for great design in architectural, historic preservation, landscape and public art projects through December 6, 2021.” [Arlington County]
It’s Tuesday — It’s going to be a windy day. A slight chance of showers between 8am and noon today. Partly sunny, with a high near 65 and a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph into the evening hours. Sunrise at 7:29 a.m. and sunset at 6:14 p.m. Tomorrow it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 68 and more gusty winds.
Arlington County could use federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to take a swing at making the “Arlington Way” work for more residents.
From what a development project should look like to where protected bike lanes could go, Arlington often invites residents to have a say in policy-making, a local community engagement philosophy known as the “Arlington Way.”
Although it’s a point of pride for the county, officials and staff have acknowledged that these pathways privilege those with the time, resources and connections to invest in discussions about projects, studies and policies — typically older, more affluent residents.
Left out of important county conversations, then, is Arlington’s growing population of renters, parents of young kids, people who work non-traditional hours, people without access to reliable and affordable transportation, and those who are not fluent English speakers.
This is not just a topic Arlington is grappling with. Over in Richmond, the city gave out small stipends to people who participated in updating its citywide master plan. And nationally, compensation has emerged as a “best practice” to “ensure lived experience and community expertise are fairly compensated and publicly recognized,” according to the Urban Institute.
So now, the county is proposing to allocate $50,000 during this fiscal year for a pilot program exploring different ways to make it easier for underrepresented community members to participate in engagement processes through compensation. It would apply to one-time meetings for issues as they arise as well as the longer-term time commitment of an ongoing advisory commission.
“Improving engagement with, and representation in civic structures by, historically underserved communities is a key priority nationally and for Arlington County,” according to a county ARPA spending plan. “Recent Dialogues on Race and Equity surfaced community perspectives that Arlington’s structures for decisions and public input are narrow, advantage dominant perspectives and do not offer access or representation for communities of color to County government leadership.”
Compensation could look like gift cards, childcare and meals, or waived transportation costs. As part of the pilot, the county will collect data on whether these practices increase the diversity of those who participate in government processes.
Championing this cause is Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol, who told ARLnow earlier this month that there would soon be news about how the county aims to tackle the “Arlington Way.”
“From my perspective, this $50k in ARPA funding is important because it will help catalyze complicated, government-wide conversations about how to reduce barriers for underrepresented Arlingtonians to participate in public processes,” she said. “One of our most challenging issues is the question of how to value time spent, and address obstacles to participation, in our standing advisory bodies.”
She commended the county’s Communications and Public Engagement team for doing “some very exciting work engaging residents in more ad-hoc opportunities,” such as when the county went out to the Lubber Run Community Center to ask kids to sketch out what they’d like to see from a recreation facility.
“But we also do still derive a lot of value from groups, like Commissions, that advise the County over time and can serve as ‘laboratories’ for new ideas; and it’s clearly a lot harder to engage in that kind of ongoing commitment if childcare, transportation, opportunity costs of shift work, etc. are obstacles for you,” she said.
Previously, she said, this has been tested out in Arlington with private funding. When Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing hosted planning meetings about the future of Columbia Pike, it organized multi-lingual sessions with dinner and childcare provided with funding from an outside grant, she said.
Eventually, the county aims to turn the results of the pilot into “common policies that can be implemented across County departments and projects,” according to the funding plan.
When asked who will oversee the pilot program and when it could be rolled out, as well as who would monitor the money to ensure it gets to the right people and so that it isn’t used to engineer who participates, a county spokeswoman said answers will come when the pilot program kicks off.
“That will all be developed in an implementation plan if/when approved by the county board,” she said.
County Board members are expected to vote on the allocation plan when they meet in November.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington has long prided itself on the pathways available to residents to have a say in local policy-making, also known as the “Arlington Way.”
But a growing number of county officials, local leaders and civic groups think the tradition, while noble in aim, doesn’t work for everyone. They say it leans too much on affluent retirees and sabotages the county’s equity efforts.
For years, Arlington County has acknowledged that its traditional engagement processes privilege those with the time, resources and connections to invest in discussions about projects, studies and policies. That leaves out a growing segment of the population outside that mold: renters, parents of young kids, people who work non-traditional hours, people without access to reliable and affordable transportation, and those who are not fluent English speakers.
References to the “Arlington Way” arose in a County Board public comment period this summer that ran long due to controversy over the start time of a north Arlington farmers market, which shut out participation from low-income residents there to speak about filthy conditions at the Serrano Apartments. More recently, diversity concerns prompted the Arlington County Civic Federation — which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss local topics — to pass a resolution prioritizing improved community outreach and representation.
Amid this renewed focus, some novel approaches and long-term reforms have been proposed that county and civic leaders and community engagement staff tell ARLnow could widen the Arlington Way.
“Generally speaking, Arlington residents care about the issues that impact them, but do they know about it? How do they get the information?” asks Samia Byrd, Arlington’s Chief Race and Equity Officer. “We take for granted that residents know how to participate in the process.”
Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol reprised the dilemma last week during a conversation about the community oversight board, which is currently seeking members to review cases of alleged police misconduct.
“We’ve been wrestling with… how we properly compensate people for that time and expertise,” Cristol said, as quoted by County Board watcher Stephen Repetski. “Because, frankly, that is… one of the biggest reasons you see our most heavy-hitting community engagement activities tend to rely disproportionately on well-off retirees.”
In a follow-up conversation, she told ARLnow that she’s been thinking about diversity in County Board-appointed commissions.
Six years ago, she believed that the solution would be finding and recruiting new faces at all levels of leadership. Over time, she’s realized the homogeneity of civic leadership is a consequence of how engagement is structured. Night meetings — or even day meetings — at county headquarters disadvantage students, parents and anyone who doesn’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including overworked young professionals.
“It actually was not just about inviting more diverse people to the table, as defined, but maybe the table was defined in a way that made it hard for certain people to sit there,” she said. “There have to be many ways to engage.”
Those involved in county communications tell ARLnow they likewise think about diversity, not in terms of commission composition and structure, but in terms of regular outreach.
Who’s left out?
Assistant County Manager and Director of Communications and Public Engagement Bryna Helfer has been tackling community engagement homogeneity since she was hired in 2016. She and Byrd both say “it’s been a challenge” to reach people who aren’t white, affluent or a retiree, as well as people who don’t already know how to get involved or navigate the county website.
Workers Threatened During Rosslyn Theft — “At approximately 4:54 a.m. on June 30, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly entered a work site and attempted to steal equipment. When confronted by workers, the suspect produced a large wooden stick and threatened them. Responding officers located the suspect on scene and he was taken into custody.” [ACPD]
New School Board Leaders Chosen — “Today, the Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2021-22 school year and elected Dr. Barbara Kanninen as Chair and Reid Goldstein as Vice Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2022.” [Arlington Public Schools]
APS Appoints First COO — “The School Board appointed Dr. John Mayo as the first Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Arlington Public Schools at its July 1 organizational meeting. Dr. Mayo currently serves as a Deputy Superintendent for Petersburg City Public Schools in Petersburg, VA. The COO is a new position that is part of the Superintendent’s reorganization, designed to strengthen operations and provide schools, students, teachers and staff with the needed supports and resources.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington GOP Gets Post-Trump Boost — “The Arlington County Republican Committee continues to see a resurgence in membership – driven, perhaps counterintuitively, by the results of the 2020 national election. ‘We’re close to 100 members,’ said Matthew Hurtt, communications chairman… It’s a major increase since the start of the year, and ‘a testament to excitement and enthusiasm that is happening here in Arlington,’ Hurtt said.” [Sun Gazette]
No Fireworks Viewing Access from DCA — From Reagan National Airport: “July 4 fireworks viewing… Due to major construction impacting our roadways and sidewalks, there is no pedestrian access to Gravelly Point and the Mount Vernon Trail from the airport.” [Twitter]
GMU Launching Center on Race — “George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government will launch its new Race, Politics, and Policy Center in Fall 2021 under the leadership of Professor Michael Fauntroy. Fauntroy, who taught at Mason for 11 years before joining the faculty at Howard University in 2013, returned to Mason in June.” [George Mason University]
Clarendon Nightlife Reminder — “As the region continues to emerge from the pandemic and more patrons participate in nightlife activities, Arlington County is reminding the public about designated weekend pick-up and drop-off zones in Clarendon.” [Arlington County]
The Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K will once again be in-person after going virtual last year.
This will be the 20th anniversary of the race, which is run in honor of the Arlington first responders who helped at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and in support of 9/11-related charities.
The race is organized by members of Arlington’s public safety agencies, including the police department and sheriff’s office.
The event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 and around 3,000 people are expected to participate this year, Race Director and Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jose Quiroz tells ARLnow. That’s in line with previous years.
Over the last two decades, the event has raised about $800,000 for charity. This includes HEROS, which helps local families whose loved ones have died in the line of duty, as well as the Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is still looking to build a new visitor center for the memorial.
The website doesn’t specifically exactly where the funds will be going this year but does note that “all proceeds will be donated to official charities that focus on the healing of military personnel and civilians directly affected by the war on terrorism and the attacks against America on September 11, 2001.”
The race will start at the Doubletree Hotel in Pentagon City, follow Army Navy Drive, passing the Pentagon Memorial, making its way along Washington Blvd, before hitting Route 110, and circling back to the hotel.
ACPD Officer Harley Guenther, who is is on the 9/11 Memorial Race Board and part of the outreach team, says the event has deep meaning to her. When the airplane hit the Pentagon two decades ago, both her mother and father worked for ACPD and were among the first on scene.
At the time, she was only six years old and was sent to live with relatives for several weeks while her parents aided in rescue efforts and evidence recovery at the Pentagon.
For her, this race is about them.
“Mom and dad were my heroes growing up. When disaster struck, they went to help,” says Guenther.
She isn’t much of a runner, she says, but she makes it a point to jog past the Pentagon Memorial.
“You can’t help but be affected. It’s an introspective time. You just run with your thoughts.” says Guenther.
Certain protocols could still be in place come September, the website notes, including capacity restrictions, social distancing, and masks. This could mean staggered start times and impact the post-race festival. All of this is currently being evaluated, Quiroz says.
There’s a virtual option for those not yet feeling comfortable with running in the race in person.
Every person who registers will receive a long sleeve commemorative t-shirt.
It’s important to hold the race in-person this year, Quiroz says, because there are still so many in the community who were significantly impacted on that day. For Quiroz, 9/11 was actually his second day on the job with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.
“We need to always honor those that responded that day,” he said. “It’s sacred and this event helps to remind the new generation.”