Arlington, VA

The Winter Festival of Lights is set to brighten up various spots along Lee Highway with 10,000 lights on Saturday (Dec. 1).

From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., locals can check out the free festival’s four different venues, which will have holiday music, shopping, performances, art, food and photos with Santa.

The first stop at the Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee Highway) includes a kid-friendly crafting area in the artists’ studios where families can make buttons, watch local artists make ceramic bowls for the AFAC Empty Bowls fundraiser and learn how to make a holiday card with the printing press.

Kids can sing holiday favorites with “Sing Books with Emily” from noon to 2 p.m. Pizza from Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta and a tasting by LaMoo Creamery will be available.

The second spot along the corridor, next to the Petco at 5400 Lee Highway, features magic and puppies. Attendees can meet Marymount University’s Pattern Makers and Fashion Club, chat with Arlington County library staff and learn from Arlington planners about the upcoming Lee Highway Planning Study while munching on food from Peter Chang and Harris Teeter.

The schedule includes:

  • Christmas trees and wreaths available at the All Seasons Farm Market
  • Performance by magician Steve Kish from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Performance by Jack Russell terriers Mario and Bella, who will show off a variety of tricks during the Jacks are Wild Dog Show
  • A donation box for pet food from the Arlington Animal Welfare League
  • How-to workshop for “cloved oranges” and Mt. Vernon-style natural wreaths with Melanie Welles Creamer from Mt. Vernon’s Greenhouse

Holiday enthusiasts can also head to the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) to learn about local history and take photos with Santa and firefighters. Food from the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe and Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta will be available.

Other activities there include:

  • Face-painting
  • Compete for prizes in the Amazing Passport Race
  • Book signing by local author Wilma Jones for “My Halls Hill Family, More Than a Neighborhood”
  • Exhibition from the winners of a biennial program that recognizes excellence in architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture and public art
  • Toy charitable dropbox from the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH)
  • Music from the Celestial Voices, The Arlington Chorale and Clarinestique Clarinet Choir

Finally, the “Shop Like a Local Holiday Market” at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire House (3900 Lee Highway) tops off the festivities.

Photo via Lee Highway Alliance

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As the busiest shopping season of the year draws near, the Pentagon City mall is adding five new stores.

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced Thursday (Nov. 15) that it would be welcoming the new retailers, with some opening right away and others rolling out in the coming weeks.

Per a press release, those additions include:

  • JD Sports: The England-based sports-fashion retail company will open in a 4,700-square-foot space near the Macy’s on the third level in late November.
  • Last Stop: The chain offering clothes and accessories will open on the mall’s third level near Life in DC in a 4,500-square-foot space.
  • ME2: The store, offering “authentic African garments and accessories,” is now open in a 1,000-square-foot space on the first level, near NYX Professional Makeup.
  • On1E Fashion: The women’s athleticwear shop is now open in a 1,200-square-foot storefront located on the third level near The Athlete’s Foot.
  • Why Not Men’s Boutique: Offering men’s clothing and accessories, the shop is now open in a 500-square-foot space on the second level, next to Tumi

As part of the moves, the mall also announced that the salon and spa K & I Beauty will be relocating to a first level near Godiva Chocolatier. A new pop-up cake shop is on the way as well.

The mall is also readying for the arrival of Christmas, and is starting up its annual photos with Santa Claus. The full schedule, from the mall’s website, is as follows:

11/19/18 – 11/21/18: 11AM-8PM

11/22/18:  CLOSED

11/23/18-11/24/18: 10 AM-8PM

11/25/18: 11AM-6PM

11/26/18: 11AM-6PM

11/27/18-11/30/18: 11AM-8PM

12/1/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/2/18: 11AM-6PM

12/3/18-12/7/18: 10AM-8PM

12/8/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/9/18: 11AM-7PM

12/10/18-12/13/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/14/18: 10AM-9PM

12/15/18: 9AM-9PM

12/16/18: 10AM-7PM

12/17/18-12/23/18: 9AM-9PM

12/24/18: 8AM-6PM  (The last guest to enter the Santa line will be at 4:30 p.m to allow Santa and his crew to leave at 6PM to deliver toys!)

Photo via Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

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Miracle on 23rd Street flyerSanta is coming to town — specifically, to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, near Crystal City, on Friday.

Linden Business Resources (750 23rd Street S.) is again hosting its family-friendly Miracle on 23rd Street holiday event. It’s scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2.

The tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 6:25, Santa is expected to arrive via fire truck at 6:30 and a 50/50 raffle will take place at 8 p.m. Unlike past years, this year’s event will be held completely outside.

There will also be food trucks and holiday music and entertainment. The event is free and open to the public.

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Jolly Old Saint Nick has set up shop at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City for boys and girls who want to get their Christmas wishes heard early.

Santa Claus has been keeping office hours at the mall since Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). He’ll continue to be available for photos right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, according to a Facebook post.

This week, Santa is working from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. He is taking Thanksgiving off, but will be back for the traditional Black Friday shopping mall madness, working a 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. shift.

Whereas Saint Nick used to have a simple setup in the food court area, he now has his own veritable Christmas forest one floor up, near Nordstrom.

This year Santa has at least two special photo sessions scheduled. This coming Sunday, from 7-9 p.m., Pentagon City mall will be hosting a pet photos with Santa event. Next Sunday, Dec. 4, from 9-11 a.m., Santa will have a free, private event for children and young adults with special needs.

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Traveling Santa (via Facebook:Arlington VA Traveling Santa)

A short, plastic visitor with blue eyes, a red suit and a long white beard has been popping up on porches around the county.

The Arlington, VA Traveling Santa began his journey shortly after Thanksgiving. Since then, he’s been visiting families throughout the county, showing up on their doorsteps unannounced. Similar to a holiday chain letter, Santa is trying to make as many stops as he can before Christmas Day.

There are rules when Santa visits, but they’re simple: he can only stay at a house one night before he must move on to visit someone else. His next destination is chosen by whomever hosted him the previous night.

Santa’s hosts are encouraged to take photos of his visit before posting them to the Facebook page where his travels are being tracked.

While most hosts opted for classic pose-and-smile photos, others have really taken him in by engaging in activities like brushing his teeth or taking him for a ride.

However, Traveling Santa isn’t just something fun for the holidays. The coordinators of the campaign — who couldn’t be reached for comment — are also asking those who interact with Santa to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

A representative for AFAC confirmed the organizers created a personal fundraising page for the cause. On Facebook, they’ve pledged to donate $1 for every “like” the page gets by Christmas — the count was nearing 200 Wednesday morning — and have agreed to match all donations made via the page.

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Santa greets children at the Miracle on 23rd Street (photo courtesy Linden Resources)(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) December is here, and with it comes a month-long celebration of the holiday season.

There are numerous events around the county this month, from holiday markets to ice skating “winter spectaculars.”

Here’s a selection of some of the more notable events in the area:

  • Shirlie Lights Up the Village, an annual tree lighting event with live music, carriage rides and a visit from Santa Claus, will take place in Shirlington Village on Dec. 3 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • This Friday, Dec. 5, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Miracle on 23rd Street is back for another year. At the Linden Resources at 750 23rd Street S., Santa Claus will ride through on an Arlington County Fire Department truck, kicking off an evening of children’s activities and holiday music.
  • On Dec. 5 and 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the Rosslyn Business Improvement is bringing back the Rosslyn Holiday Market for another year. More than 35 vendors with products as diverse as soaps, gourmet popcorn, metalworks and French macarons will be on hand to offer shoppers heaps of gift options. After Friday’s market closes, the BID will hold a ceremony lighting up Rosslyn’s skyline.
  • Pentagon Row is hosting “Let It Row,” a winter event at its ice rink, on Saturday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The event is free and features a DJ and a “s’mores bar.”
  • For the first time, Penrose Square on Columbia Pike is hosting its own “Winter Wonderland” event, on Sunday, Dec. 7 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. They will have their own Santa Claus available for pictures, plus carolers, hot chocolate and cookies from Giant and ornament decoration stations. The event will close with a tree lighting ceremony in the breezeway outside Giant.
  • Market Common Clarendon, at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Edgewood Street, is hosting a “Winter Wonderland,” on Saturday Dec. 13. This free event is replete with Santa Clause on a fire truck at noon, ice carvings and characters in life-size snow globes.
  • The Arlington Career Center, at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, will host this year’s Arlington Holiday Bazaar on Dec. 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will be pizza provided by RedRocks, more than 40 vendors, singers from the Wakefield High School choir and manicures from Career Center students.

Photo courtesy Linden Resources. Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

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Arlington residents took a walk to La Tagliatella (2950 Clarendon Blvd) Saturday afternoon to get their furry friends’ picture taken with a white-bearded friend from the North Pole.

About 30 dogs got their photo taken with Santa Claus over the course of two hours. Santa, looking young for his years, dutifully posed with the pooches on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

Each photo cost the humans $10, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, which rescues dogs from high-kill shelters, as strays or from owners who can no longer care for them and finds them new families.

Add in the restaurant’s $1 sangria and spiked cider special, and the event raised more than $300.

Photos courtesy La Tagliatella

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Linden Resources 'Miracle on 23rd Street' 2011An annual Aurora Highlands Christmas tradition will return tonight, with Santa Claus arriving on an Arlington County Fire Department truck.

The Linden Resources “Miracle on 23rd Street Celebration” will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Linden office at 750 23rd Street S.

The event is free and open to the public, will include a Christmas tree lighting, a brass band and children’s activities, including photos with Santa.

The event will kick off with a vendor gift fair from local businesses and will feature “local dignitaries,” according to a press release.

Linden Resources, a company devoted to helping those with disabilities find employment opportunities, will also collect donations for its “Vets Ready2Work” program that helps place military veterans with disabilities with jobs.

File Photo

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Morning Notes

Thieves Steal Wheels from Hotel — Two suspects were seen stealing tires and rims from two vehicles parked at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) early Thursday morning. A security guard tried to intervene but the suspects fled. Arlington, particularly south Arlington, has seen an apparent uptick in wheel thefts recently. [NBC Washington]

Santa Coming to Clarendon Saturday — Santa Claus will be coming to Clarendon on Saturday evening. The Jolly Old Elf will arrive at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) on a “big red sleigh,” otherwise known as an Arlington County fire truck, at 4:00 p.m. He will be on hand for photos until 7:00 p.m. There will also be strolling carolers and other family-friendly entertainment. It’s the shopping center’s 12th annual “Winter Wonderland” event. [Market Common Clarendon]

Last Westover Farmers Market of 2012 — The new Westover Farmers Market will hold its last market of the year from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The market, located at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road, will go on a holiday hiatus before returning on Jan. 13, 2013. The  market’s winter hours run through April. [Westover Farmers Market]

Brink Commends Funding for Blind Students — Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) is praising Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for his proposal to add $4.9 million in funding for blind and visually impaired students to the upcoming Virginia budget. The funds will help localities cover the cost of teachers, teacher’s aides and staff for blind and visually impaired students. [Alexandria News]

Bike Advocates Call For Plowed Trails — Bicyclists are calling on Arlington County to start plowing snow from bike and pedestrian trails. “By failing to plow the trails, [Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services] puts more people onto the streets in cars,” said one bicycle advocate during yesterday’s county-organized online snow chat. “Is that really what you want, during a snow event?” [Along the Pike]

Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99

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From gift wrapping to assisting Santa, volunteers are needed to help with a number of upcoming holiday events. More information about the items listed below, as well as other volunteer opportunities, can be found online.

  • The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area seeks volunteers for one-on-one visits with local nursing home residents on Christmas Day. Many of the residents will not have any other visitors during the holidays, so they consider this time a special treat. Children are welcome and pets are welcome with advance notice. For information or to sign up, contact Robin Wiley at 703-370-0370.
  • Deliver gifts to local children with incarcerated parents as part of Offender Aid Restoration‘s annual Project Christmas Angel program. Volunteers pick up the gifts on Thursday, December 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and deliver them from December 14 through December 23. Each child receives a gift with a personalized note from their parent. Volunteers must have a car and a valid driver’s license. A partner is suggested (though not required) because parking in some neighborhoods can be a challenge. Contact Emily Freeman at 703-228-7031.
  • The Civitan Club of Arlington needs help at the Photos with Santa booth at the Ballston Mall. Volunteers are needed from now through December 24 and must be at least 15-years-old. Helpers will perform various tasks including processing orders, taking photos, printing photos and directing people through the process. Contact Leandra Finder at 703-473-7245.
  • The Reading Connection (TRC) seeks “Gift Wrap for Reading” volunteers for various shifts from December 8-24. Volunteers will gift wrap purchases at the Clarendon Barnes & Noble in return for donations to TRC. Contact Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317 x10 or sign up online.
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Everybody’s talking about Sandy, but another big arrival is coming to town soon: Santa.

Simon Malls says photos with Santa will begin two weeks from today, on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street).

The Jolly Old Elf will be available for photos at Pentagon City mall through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. He’ll also be present for a special holiday shopping night from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, and available for photos with pets (no exotic pets, please) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Nov. 25 through Dec. 2.

St. Nick’s arrival in Arlington is a bit earlier than last year. His appearances at Pentagon City mall last year started on Nov. 12, 2011. No word on when Santa will be coming to Ballston Common Mall, but last year his first appearance in Ballston was scheduled for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

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