Another week, another stretch of temperatures in the 90s and heat indexes near 100.
It’s been a hot and humid summer in Arlington and the D.C. area. With a predicted high of 93, today will likely be the 41st day with the temperature over 90 (the yearly average is 40).
Yet, the outward signs of fall are there: Oktoberfest beers at the grocery store, football on the television, the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte today at Starbucks.
(For what it’s worth, the “PSL” arrived a day earlier than last year and a full week earlier than four years ago.)
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) August 24, 2021
ARLnow readers have told us they consider the fall equinox in the latter half of September to be the “real start of fall” in Arlington, as opposed to Labor Day, the first day of September, or the debut of the sweet pumpkin-y goodness at Starbucks. But with a premium put on outdoor activity during the pandemic, maybe this year locals are mentally prepared for an earlier start of fall.
Given the sweltering temperatures, cicadas, itch mites and heavy rains, are you suffering summer fatigue? Would you trade the remaining four weeks of summer for a changeover to cooler and crisper weather? Let’s find out.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
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).
August is the month of vacations.
Congress goes on recess, schools are still on summer break, and legions of D.C. area residents head out of town, to the beach or elsewhere. That leads to less local traffic and more out-of-office email replies.
August in DC.
— Candice Greaux (@cgreaux) August 9, 2021
Obviously not everybody leaves town in August. We’re wondering what percentage of ARLnow readers sticks around and takes their vacations during other months of the year.
After being canceled due to the pandemic, the event will return to the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds, at 3501 2nd Street S. The fair kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. and concludes at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22.
“We weren’t sure we were going to be able to have the Fair this year but we made the decision a few short months ago and have been working tirelessly ever since to plan some exciting things for our community to enjoy,” said Arlington County Fair Board Chair Barbi Broadus.
For five days, people can experience county fair classics such as face painting and bounce houses, or try newer, trendier activities, such as axe throwing and goat yoga.
Fair attractions include:
- Goat yoga — Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 and 10:30 a.m.
- New District Brewing Company beer garden — opens Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m, Friday at 3 p.m., and noon on Saturday and Sunday
- Robotics demonstrations — Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- The Miraculous Magical Balloon performance from Synetic Theatre — Thursday at 5 p.m. and Saturday 4 p.m.
- Pie eating championship — Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m.
All things kids can be found at the “kids court,” where there will be face painting, bounce houses and magic performances from Drew Blue Shoes.
Meanwhile, attendees can browse exhibitions of talented bakers and artists, who will receive awards on Saturday at 7 p.m.
After living through shutdowns, attendees can expect sizable crowds.
“For the past 45 years, the fair has been one of the largest free events on the East Coast with over 84,000 attendees from Northern Virginia and the Washington metro area,” said a fair representative in a press release.
The fair is working with Arlington County to ensure the event is as safe as possible, according to a press release. Federal and state Covid-19 guidelines will be followed.
In Arlington, case rates are starting to rise and Northern Virginia health officials are recommending people wear masks regardless of vaccination status. There is no renewed statewide mask mandate, however.
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).
The hours for the fair are:
- Wednesday, Aug. 18: 5-10 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 19: 5-10 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 20: 2-11 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 21: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 22: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Outdoor entertainment consists of a daily lineup of musicians, from jazz and funk to rock and pop. The music schedule is below.
Arlington residents say they are being plagued by mysterious bug bites featuring unusual red splotches that are itchier than those left by typical summer suckers.
A Facebook group, “Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19,” has helped community members with similar bites find each other, share information and try to get to the bottom of the mystery. There’s been similar chatter on local email listservs.
“I was so grateful to see that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this issue — and apparently many, many others feel the same way,” resident Becca Collins tells ARLnow.
The Facebook thread started on Sunday, when the original poster asked the group, “Anyone else finding that they’re getting bit by something while outdoors that is leaving a lingering mark?” She added that “this has happened to us multiple times in the last 10 days. The bite seems a lot different from your typical mosquito bite, leaving a red patch around the bite that’s been lasting for over a week (as well as the intense itchiness despite Benadryl, etc).”
The post has since received at least 160 responses and been shared eight times. A respondent said she went to an urgent care clinic “after a sleepless night due to the itching/burning bug bite on my neck, that swelled up into a small patch… It also had red itchy streaks reaching up to my lymph node that became swollen and painful.”
Another reported a similar story.
“Had my daughter at urgent care yesterday,” the poster wrote. “Her two bites look EXACTLY like everyone’s photos here. The doctor at urgent care said they’re seeing a lot of these bug bites.”
Receptionists at three local urgent care centers confirmed they’ve seen an influx in patients with bug bites.
“It is up this summer, more than usual,” said one receptionist for All Care Family Medicine & Urgent Care.
Another for Urgent Care Center of Arlington said “we don’t really know what type of bites they are. Patients come in for a bug bite, but they’re not sure if it’s a tick, mosquito or spider bite.”
Collins said hers was different from a tick bite, which is ringed by a clearly defined red circle. Hers and “many of these welts have ‘trailing red tails’ coming from them,” she said.
The Facebook group members have hatched a theory that these bites are tied to oak itch mites, or pyemotes, which are thought to feed on cicadas eggs. Similar outbreaks of itchy bug bites have coincided with periodic cicada cycles in Chicago and Northern Ohio.
These mites feed on insect larvae that inhabit oak trees, according to previous news reports and academic papers. And this year, with thousands upon thousands of eggs laid by cicadas, there was a veritable feast for the mites.
“Until I saw the post, I thought I was getting eaten by spiders in my sleep and was going to take some serious mitigation steps, but if the mite theory is correct, that saves me A LOT of work and worry,” one tipster told ARLnow.
Kurt Larrick, the assistant director of the county’s Department of Human Services, confirmed that residents are reporting these strange bites to the county. But county staff cannot say anything definitive yet about the phenomenon.
“We are tracking reports and consulting with internal and external subject matter experts,” he said. “However, there is no clear cut answer at this point.”
“Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Rushmore” and other beloved Wes Anderson films will be showing at Westpost Plaza, formerly Pentagon Row, every other week for the rest of the summer.
“Pull up a chair or blanket and join us on the plaza on Wednesday evenings for movie nights,” says an event listing. “Grab a drink (to-go drinks from our restaurants are allowed) and food from one of our restaurants, and enjoy the weird wonderful world of Wes Anderson.”
This is the first outdoor movie series at the plaza, located at 1201 S. Joyce Street. Movies will be shown on Wednesdays starting tomorrow, July 28, and running through Sept. 22.
The schedule is as follows:
- July 28, 8 p.m.: Moonrise Kingdom
- Aug. 11, 8 p.m.: The Life Aquatic
- Aug. 25, 8 p.m.: Rushmore
- Sept. 8, 7 p.m.: The Royal Tenenbaums
- Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Tickets are free, but attendance will be limited to 125 people per film. Ticket reservations can be made online.
Westpost asks moviegoers to bring a chair or blanket, as seating will not be provided.
Peak Heat, Statistically Speaking — “Based on history, we are now at the hottest point of the summer. While it can still be brutally hot in the weeks ahead (and probably will be at times), we are about to begin our gradual descent into winter, using average temps.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Arlington Home Prices Keep Rising — “A total of 369 properties went to closing last month, up 62 percent from 228 in June 2020… The average price of single-family homes in the county was $1,217,376 last month, up 9.8 percent from $1,109,179.” [Sun Gazette]
Protected Bikes Lanes for HQ2? — “Amazon.com Inc.’s newest PenPlace design would add protected bike lanes along a key roadway adjacent to the 11.6-acre campus and a new bike share station near the planned ‘Helix’ tower. During Arlington’s Long Range Planning Committee’s virtual meeting Tuesday, Amazon’s HQ2 landscape architect Scape presented its revised vision for the site’s 2.1 acres of open space and transportation networks.” [Washington Business Journal]
Woman Finds Bullet Hole in Window — “3900 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 6:09 a.m. on July 13, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was awoken at approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 12 to a loud pop sound. The following morning, she discovered a bullet hole in her window.” [ACPD]
Affordable Apartments Set for Renovation — “Arlington County is backing away from plans to buy part of the Park Shirlington apartment complex in South Arlington as the developers are instead pitching a full renovation of the affordable community. The county is set to deliver a $22.7 million loan to power the rehabilitation of all 293 units on the 15.7-acre parcel.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Is a ‘Top Digital County’ — “Arlington County is once again ranked among the top digital counties in the nation. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties has named Arlington to the No. 2 spot for their 2021 awards in the 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]
New Record for W-L IB Program — “W-L students surpassed their worldwide peers in diploma pass rate, average score pass rate, and the average points earned by diploma candidates. In addition, the overall pass rate for all W-L students participating in [International Baccalaureate] classes, including Diploma Candidates and Course Candidates, is the highest in the 25-year history of IB at W-L at 92.6%.” [Arlington Public Schools]
‘Arlington Tech’ Students Earn Degree — “Seven Arlington Tech Class of 2021 graduates are the first APS students to earn Associates Degrees by taking courses offered through both Arlington Tech and the Career Center.” [Arlington Public Schools]
It’s July — Today is the first day in the month of July, named after Julius Caesar around the time of his assassination in 44 BC. Prior to that, the month was called Quintilis. In addition to today being the start of July, it’s also the start of the second half of the year. Expect the month to be especially hot and rainy. [Capital Weather Gang]
New Va. Bike Law Now In Effect — “A new state law requires motorists to change lanes when passing a bicyclist, if the lane of travel is not wide enough to accommodate 3 feet in distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle. Existing law had allowed, but did not require, a motorist to move into the other lane when passing a bicyclist in order to ensure at least 3 feet of distance.” [Sun Gazette]
ACFD CPR Battle — “Recruit Class 80 was certified in CPR yesterday. Recruits went head to head in partner CPR races. The top recruit team took on the FTA Cadre in a final race. Watch to find out who won! Our manikins give live feedback on the quality of compressions and ventilations.” [Instagram]
ACPD’s LGBTQ+ Outreach — “The unit provides educational outreach to the LGBTQ community on issues of concern to that community, including the types of crime that some LGBTQ people become victims of. Among those issues, he said, are same-sex domestic violence and online dating scams in which criminals pose as a potential dating partner to gain access to a gay person’s home, where they rob and sometime assault the unsuspecting victim. Penn said he was unaware of any anti-LGBTQ hate crimes that have occurred in Arlington in recent years.” [Washington Blade]
CPRO Gets Amazon Donation — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Amazon. To kick off this partnership, CPRO has received a generous $25,000 donation from Amazon this month to support three of its upcoming events: the recent Columbia Pike Blues Weekend, the upcoming Columbia Pike Drive-In Movie Nights, and CPRO’s 35th Anniversary Celebration in October.” [Press Release]
Outdoor movies are returning to Columbia Pike.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization will be screening summer cinema from the Arlington Career Center parking lot starting this Saturday.
The group’s annual movie series, now in its 11th year, was held under the stars until the pandemic struck. Last summer, it decided to offer a drive-in movie theater experience instead, a format that the CPRO will be repeating this year.
Admission requires a donation to the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and registration in advance. Both can be done through forthcoming links in the neighborhood’s newsletter, which is sent out every Thursday. The event is being funded in part by Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation.
Showtime begins at sunset, between 8 and 8:30 p.m. depending on the evening. The movies are rated between G and PG-13 and the lineup ranges from dramas to animated films, and musicals to action flicks:
- July 3, 8:30 p.m.: La Misma Luna
- July 10, 8:30 p.m.: The Addams Family
- July 17, 8:30 p.m.: The Farewell
- July 24, 8:30 p.m.: Just Mercy
- July 31, 8:30 p.m.: Hairspray
- Aug. 7, 8:15 p.m.: Gojira
- Aug. 17, 8 p.m.: A League of Their Own
- Aug. 28, 8 p.m.: Raya and the Last Dragon
Each movie will be shown in English with Spanish subtitles.
The Arlington Career Center Parking lot can be accessed by entering on S. Walter Reed Drive, according to the event page. There will be no public bathrooms available at the facility while the film is shown.
Moviegoers can arrive up to one hour early to secure a spot for their vehicles, the event page said. A Kona Ice truck will be making shaved ice treats before the movie.
Photos courtesy of CPRO
“Summer House,” a colorful, beach-themed outdoor workspace and social spot, debuted today in Crystal City.
This nostalgic neon installation, sponsored by the National Landing Business Improvement District, is located at 101 12th Street S., a grassy area near Long Bridge Park. The pop-up open space was the site of a BID-funded art installation earlier this year and is slated to be redeveloped as an office building.
The National Landing BID held a dry-run yesterday (Tuesday) with Pride-themed margaritas, a DJ and food trucks. Similar experiences will continue all summer long so locals can work and play outdoors.
National Landing BID President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said the idea of Summer House was “to celebrate this moment where we’re all ready to be done with COVID and to enjoy being together again.”
During the day, people can take advantage of remote-work essentials such as standing desks and WiFi. After work, the National Landing BID envisions the area transforming into a gathering place for locals, with food and drink provided by local businesses including The Freshman, which recently opened, and Peruvian Brothers.
Gabriel said the BID welcomes any local small businesses looking for extra exposure to come and present what they have to offer in the new space.
Additionally, the BID will host weekly events throughout August such as tie-dyeing, yoga and happy hours.
“I think we’re all done with staring at a computer screen,” Gabriel said. “This is a real-life way to interact and bring a little color, bring a little joy, bring a little summer into people’s lives.”‘
Photos courtesy Daniel Swartz
Arlington Public Schools is apologizing for how it handled the news that it would have to restrict summer school eligibility.
At first, the school system expanded summer school eligibility to students with disabilities, English learners, and those struggling to achieve passing grades. That was until it turned out that there are not enough teachers to support them.
Last Monday, APS told parents and teachers that “despite having offered financial incentives to teachers to teach summer school, there are fewer applicants than the number of students who are eligible for summer instruction at the elementary level, making it impossible for APS to offer summer strengthening support to all eligible elementary students.”
Teachers and parents decried the news, which dropped last Monday. Teachers said it sounded like they were being blamed for the reduction in eligible students. Arlington Parents for Education, a group that has pressed for a faster reopening, said APS “pulled the rug out” from under parents banking on summer school to help their kids recover from learning loss.
Bridget Loft, the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, apologized for the first sentence of her communication during a town hall on summer school last night (Monday). The sentence was also removed from the original announcement.
“It was poorly worded and did not accurately represent the fact that our teachers have worked tirelessly to support our students throughout this school year,” she said.
One teacher who spoke with ARLnow said a similar retraction was sent to teachers but noted that the apology was not shared with the larger community.
“In a time when every teacher is truly learning how to do something new daily, it was seen as if teachers were thrown under the bus,” the teacher said.
APS offered a $1,000 bonus for certified teachers and a $500 bonus for support staff to attract more personnel to participate in the summer program. But after a challenging year, that incentive did not produce the response APS was hoping for.
“I did not hear from a single teacher who said that the $1,000 was enough to sway those who were uninterested in summer school off the sidelines,” the teacher said. “For those who were going to do it anyway, it was a nice perk.”
This is a phenomenon happening across the nation. Education Week reports that throughout the U.S., school districts face staffing shortages because teachers have worked nonstop during the pandemic and need a break.
“Summer school staffing always seems like challenge and the pandemic makes it much worse,” the APS teacher said. “The best word to describe most teachers is ‘done’ for this year. Most want to start fresh in the fall.”
Loft repeated those sentiments during the town hall.
“Most of our teachers have given their all,” she said. “I would be loath to say it’s burnout: They are human they need time to rest and recharge.”
More than 5,000 elementary-level students were identified as potentially eligible for summer school this year, but APS only has enough staff to enroll some 1,900 students, Loft said. Now, the school system is drumming up supplemental materials and at-home lessons for about 3,000 previously identified students.
In a normal year, between 2,000 and 2,500 elementary-age students are identified for summer school.
APS has hired 175 summer school teachers for the elementary level and is still hashing out eligibility and staffing at the middle and high school levels, staff said.
So what will summer school actually look like?
The elementary students who are still eligible will be in-person or online five days a week, for four hours a day, during the month of July. They include rising kindergarteners in APS’s Pre-K program, certain students with disabilities, English-language learning students, and those with the lowest levels of English proficiency.
The rest will have access to self-guided lessons taught by state-certified teachers and supplemental programs through their electronic devices, Loft said.
As for the middle and high school level, Director of Secondary Education Tyrone Byrd projects having enough staff.
“Right now, we’re envisioning we’ll be able to support students who sign up,” he said.
Image via Arlington Public Schools