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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) After a pandemic winter, the region’s annual rite of spring is finally here: The cherry blossoms have bloomed.

A string of warm weather days got the famed Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to hit peak bloom a few days earlier than initially predicted. While there were fears that peak bloom would result in crowded conditions that would prompt the National Park Service to shut down access, that has yet to materialize.

As of now, the Tidal Basin remains open with peak bloom expected to last about a week.

If blossom peeping is what you’re after, then Arlington National Cemetery is another possible destination, with numerous cherry blossom trees. However, it’s currently only open to the public on a limited basis.

Here in Arlington, our cherry blossoms aren’t as famous as those across the river, but there are still plenty to see elsewhere around the county. Clusters of cherry trees and blossoms can be seen in various Arlington neighborhoods, heralding the arrival of spring without the fanfare of their Tidal Basin brethren.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott traveled around Arlington over the past week to capture some of the blooms, as seen in the gallery above.

There are other ways to participate in the cherry blossom festivities that don’t require venturing across the Potomac.

In National Landing, where dozens of cherry trees are being planted, two “Art in Bloom” sculptures are now on display. Relatedly, Amazon is now a top-level sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Arlington restaurants are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” program, which highlights cherry blossom-inspired dishes.

A new addition to the festival is the “Porch Parade and Pedal Procession,” in which area residents and businesses decorate their porches, yards, and windows with a cherry blossom theme. Arlington is home to numerous such displays, according to a map.

Some Arlington neighborhoods, including the Aurora Highlands community near National Landing, are even organizing their own cherry blossom activities this year.

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A dazzling array of daffodils are now on display at Culpepper Garden.

The affordable senior living facility at 4435 N. Pershing Drive planted the flowers as part of the first phase of an ongoing restoration of its gardens. The garden now contains 28,000 daffodils of over seven varieties.

The daffodils’ official debut will be at a planned Spring Garden Walk on Saturday, April 10, from noon to 3 p.m. The Spring Garden Walk is the first in a series of events in the garden planned throughout this year, according to a press release.

The celebration also comes after a recent renovation to Culpepper Garden’s independent living building. The press release noted that apartments are available to people over the age of 62 living at less than 60% of area median income ($52,920).

“The Spring Garden Walk is the first in a series of interactive garden events planned throughout 2021,” the senior care organization said in a press release. “Sponsorships and funds generated through these events will be used to complete the full restoration of the historic gardens planted by Dr. Charles W. Culpepper, a scientist and botanist who worked for the Department of Agriculture.”

The daffodils commemorate the work of Culpepper, who sold the five-acre tract of land to non-profit Arlington Retirement Housing Corporation in 1973.

The gardens can be accessed via private, self-guided tours. There is no charge for the tours, but donations to Culpepper Garden are encouraged. A limited number of guided tours are also available, with advanced reservations available by contacting Jasmin Witcher at 703-528-0162 or emailing [email protected].

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Morning Notes

APS to Fully Return to Classrooms in Fall — “Arlington Public Schools will bring all students who choose it back for five days of in-person learning every week starting in the fall, Superintendent Francisco Durán told the school board Thursday.
He emphasized that any families… who want to stay virtual-only will be able to do so, and noted that staffers have already begun to plot out what the remote option will look like.” [Washington Post]

County Still Seeking New Logo Ideas — “Calling all artists, and artists-at-heart! The County will choose a new logo this year that better represents our Arlington community, and we need your help… Submit your logo concept/art by March 14.” [Arlington County]

Fire Breaks Out in Route 1 Median — From Dave Statter: “Watch your cigarettes, matches & ashes. Dry & breezy. A small brush fire on Rt 1 south of 23rd St briefly blocked traffic. @Reagan_Airport MWAA Engine 301 handled it.” [Twitter]

Brooks Basking in the Sunlight — From the Arlington County Police Department yesterday afternoon: “It’s a pawsitively beautiful day in Arlington County! FRK9 Brooks hopes you get out and enjoy the weather!” [Twitter]

Va. Booze Sales Soar During Pandemic — “Virginians bought considerably more liquor in the second half of 2020 than they did during the same period of 2019. That’s according to figures Washingtonian obtained from the commonwealth’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, which show statewide sales of spirits were up 15 percent over 2019 from July to December of the worst year in recent history.” [Washingtonian]

State Tax Revenue Higher Than Expected — “On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes — 61 percent of General Fund revenues — increased 1.1 percent, behind the annual forecast of 2.7 percent growth. Sales tax collections — 17 percent of General Fund revenues — increased 6.7 percent through February, ahead of the annual forecast calling for a 4.8 percent increase. Recordation taxes advanced 38.3 percent on a fiscal year basis, ahead of the 24.4 percent annual forecast. Total revenues rose 8.0 percent through February, ahead of the revised annual forecast of 3.0 percent growth.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Reminder: Spring Forward This Weekend — “The second Sunday in March is when Daylight Saving Time begins in most areas of the U.S., so in 2021 we’ll ‘spring forward’ one hour and on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at 2 a.m. Be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour before bed on Saturday night!” [Farmers’ Almanac]

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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools is on spring break this week, which is prompting some people to ask… why?

During normal times, spring break allows teachers and students to get a needed week-long break, leading up to final exams and the end of the school year. It also allows parents to plan vacations and getaways.

During the coronavirus crisis, however, everyone is (or should be) staying at home, so vacations are not really a thing. Parents, many of whom are working from home, have to pull double duty as their kids’ at-home enrichment coordinator even with school in session — more so when it’s not. Meanwhile, the workload for students, who no longer need to worry about SOLs and other high-pressure tests, has been greatly reduced.

This is not to mention APS’ laudable meal distribution for families in need, which buckled under the strain of distributing five grab-and-go meals on Friday for the week ahead. The school system ran out of meals amid long lines, according to the Washington Post.

The argument for keeping spring break is giving students and staff long-planned time off, while giving APS — especially hard-working teachers who have been figuring out how to educate students from a distance — extra time to figure out how to proceed for the rest of the year.

But given all the disruption to everyday life caused by the virus outbreak, should spring break have been cancelled this year?

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Morning Notes

This Week’s Crystal City Garage Races Postponed — “Attention garage racers and friends: Tomorrow’s Crystal City races are postponed. We are operating with an abundance of caution after an employee of a tenant in the 201 12th St. S. complex was quarantined because of COVID-19. The complex common areas were cleaned and disinfected, today, but we are holding off before racing again.” [Facebook]

Deep Clean for Rosslyn-Based News Outlet — “Politico has asked several reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine over coronavirus concerns. It’s also sanitizing/disinfecting its office.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Winter is Over, Unofficially — “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Whitlow’s Rooftop Opens — “Rooftop opens for the season tonight at 5 p.m.! How’s that for a Monday?” [Twitter]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 23.” [Arlington County]

Developers Pitch in to Help Housing Nonprofit — “Absent a budget from a central housing authority, APAH ‘can’t afford not to’ maintain solid relationships with developers — who donate, serve on its board and train future APAH staffers. ‘We’re blessed by their generosity,’ Janopaul says, citing Arlington builders Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Inc., John Shooshan of the Shooshan Co. and Andy VanHorn at JBG Smith.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Josh Folb

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(Updated 2:39 p.m.) A spring book festival is coming to Rosslyn this year for the first time.

The Rosslyn Reads! Spring Book Festival will take place at Rosslyn’s Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street) on Thursday, April 26, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m, and will feature readings from local writers, local food and beverages, and a used book sale.

Used books, DVDs, and CDs will be sold for $1-5, with all proceeds benefiting Turning the Page, an educational resources nonprofit.

Author talks will be held throughout the day, and a free concert by Virginia band Two Ton Twig will be held in the evening.

The event is hosted by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District in partnership with the Arlington Public Library and Washington’s Carpe Librum book store.

The full list of scheduled events at the festival is below.

  • 10 a.m. – Event opening
  • 10:15 a.m. – Preschool story time
  • 11 a.m. – Managing Up “Workout” Coffee Talk with Careerstone Group LLC president and The Washington Business Journal editor-at-large
  • 12 p.m. – Author Talk with Bayou Bakery owner David Guas on his cookbooks
  • 12:30 p.m. – Author Talk with John Pfordresher on his The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece
  • 1 p.m. – Author Talk with Nicholas Reynolds on his Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961
  • 2 p.m. – Author Talk with Rebecca Czarniecki on her Manners & Tea with Mrs. B
  • 3 p.m. – Family storytelling & music
  • 4 p.m. – The Great Zucchini Show magic show
  • 5-7 p.m. – Author Talk and beer tasting with Mark Elliott Benbow on his Christian Heurich and His Brewery
  • 5:30 p.m. – Author Talk with Liza Mundy on her Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II
  • 7-10 p.m. – Two Ton Twig performance alongside a pop-up wine and beer bar and food trucks

File photo

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Though a bit of a roller coaster, it’s been a cooler spring than we’re used to in the D.C. area. It’s June and the high temperature today isn’t even supposed to break 70.

Good news for those who like it hot: A heat wave is on the way next week. And the first official day of summer is around the corner, on June 21.

What do you think of the relatively mild weather so far this year?

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The weekend is shaping up to be warm and pleasant — despite high pollen counts — which is good news for those celebrating Easter on Sunday. That’s also the final day of spring break for Arlington Public Schools students.

There are plenty of special Easter happenings including church services, egg hunts and brunches.

Although county community centers are closed on Sunday, parks will remain open to visitors who may want to hike, picnic or use playground equipment.

Other spring activities include taking advantage of newly-opened farmers markets.

What are you planning to do this weekend?

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Morning Notes

Spring Break Activities — Today is the last day of school for Arlington Public Schools students before spring break. The county’s parks and recreation department has some suggested activities to keep kids of all ages occupied next week. [Arlington County]

Casual Adventure Property’s Familiar New Owners — The owners of long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer Casual Adventure announced this week that it’s closing, and the property sale reportedly already has taken place. The new owner is 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to Brian Normile of BCN Enterprises. He’s partnering with Stephen and Mark Fedorchak, who own Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall and Northside Social. [Washington Business Journal]

CEB Acquisition Complete — IT consulting and research firm Gartner has completed its acquisition of Arlington-based technology and insights firm CEB in a $3.3 billion deal. Gartner plans to expand CEB’s consulting services into new markets and develop a line of new research and advisory products. [StamfordAdvocate]

Solid-Waste Plant Upgrade Raises Flaring Gas Concerns — Arlington County is encountering some pushback over the $100 million upgrade to the Water Pollution Control Plant. Concerns have been raised over a proposed new process that might cause flaring gas. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy Rob Laybourn

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Despite a bit of a cool start today, spring has definitely sprung in Arlington.

Seasonal allergies aside, there’s a lot of like about spring here: rising (but not sweltering) temperature, cherry blossoms and the return of many farmers markets and other outdoor activities.

For some, however, spring is nice but not the nicest of the local seasons. What’s you favorite? Let’s find out.

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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

After one last blast of cold weather this week, it appears that old man winter has taken his last bow for the season, according to our friends at the Capital Weather Gang.

Also bowing out: the Republican effort to pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. A number of local lawmakers and Democratic political candidates have issued statements on the bill’s failure this afternoon, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Also this afternoon, a grinning Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, was spotted taking a flight out of Reagan National Airport in Arlington.

While the healthcare bill has received much of the national media attention this week, it was also a busy local news week. Here are some of the week’s most-read articles.

Feel free to discuss the return of spring-like weather, the healthcare brouhaha on Capitol Hill or any other topic of local interest in the comments.

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