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On the eve of New Year’s Eve, we’re finishing up our countdown to 2022 with this year’s five most-read stories.

It was a close call for ARLnow’s first and second place stories, which each exceeded 100,000 views and were within 1,000 views of each other. And for the first (and last?) time in ARLnow’s history, an opinion column rocketed into the top 5.

The countdown finishes up as follows.

5. While the Capitol was stormed, a group of men gathered near the Marine Corps War Memorial (March 1 | 56,882 views)

A group of 10 or so men loitered near the Marine Corps War Memorial on Jan. 6, the day of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. What they were doing there remains unclear, though ARLnow hears that another news organization is working on a story about the gathering.

4. Police officer killed in attack outside Pentagon (Aug. 3 | 65,263 views)

A massive emergency response surrounded the Pentagon this summer after a police officer was attacked and killed at the Pentagon bus platform, outside the Metro station. The assailant, who died on the scene after shooting himself, was identified as a Georgia man who unsuccessfully tried to join the Marine Corps in 2012. That man’s brother is now charged in a double homicide in the Atlanta area.

3.Local couple killed in California plane crash (July 19 | 66,073 views) 

An Arlington couple, Shauna and James Waite, along with Shauna’s father, died in the crash of a small plane in Napa County, California this summer. They are survived by her mother and Shauna and James’ young son. James worked for a California financial technology company and Shauna was a veterinarian. The two were avid runners who rescued a menagerie of animals.

2. Making Room: Stop using leaf blowers (Nov. 22 | 100,472 views)

As the era of columns on ARLnow neared its end, Jane Green published an opinion piece decrying gas-powered leaf blowers for being noisy and emitting copious carbon emissions. More than 425 comments later, it’s our second-most read story of all time.

1. Residents abuzz over mysterious bug bites possibly tied to cicadas (July 28 | 101,215 views)

Residents afflicted with strange, extremely itchy bites began suspecting oak itch mites, a microscopic organism that normally feeds on the eggs and larvae of the oak leaf gall midge — and also, it’s believed, cicada nymphs — but began biting humans. Our top story — later covered by TV stationsthe Washington Post and other national and international outlets — came to us via anonymous tips and a Facebook group discussion. Mercifully, the long-lasting and absurdly itchy bites eventually faded away later in the summer.

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We’re continuing our countdown to 2022 with our most-read stories of 2021.

Up next, in the top 10, we have more coverage from the summer tornado and the storming of the U.S. Capitol, as well as an update on a now two-year-old murder in Ballston.

The penultimate list of stories in our countdown is below.

10. NEW: Baltimore Ravens player arrested in Arlington (March 17 | 34,771 views)

Defensive lineman Broderick Washington, a second-year player on the Baltimore Ravens, allegedly damaged five vehicles with a metal object, plus damaged an apartment door and window, at the Dolley Madison Towers apartment complex. In June, he pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor property destruction and the other six charges were dropped, the Baltimore Sun reported. The judge barred him from contacting the victims and visiting the apartment complex.

9. BREAKING: Convoy of emergency vehicles seen heading towards D.C., Va. National Guard to deploy (Jan. 6 | 35,048 views) 

This story contained several updates as we received them on Jan. 6, the day supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Arlington ambulances were told to avoid transporting patients to hospitals in the District while Arlington police officers, the Virginia National Guard and state troopers were dispatched to help D.C. and Capitol police.

8. BREAKING: Widespread damage after tornado warning issued for Arlington (July 1 | 41,872 views)

The fire department was swamped with service calls after a (relatively) small tornado tore through parts of the county. The calls included one for a man who was trapped after a tree fell on his house. The National Weather Service later confirmed it was a category EF1 tornado, the second-weakest on the Enhanced Fujita Scale scale.

7. BREAKING: Police release surveillance video of ‘person of interest’ in Ballston murder (Jan. 15 | 48,309 views)

Arlington police released video footage of a “person of interest” in the January 2020 murder of 24-year-old Scott Ratigan. ACPD described this person as a White male between 5’6″ and 5’8″ tall with a pigeon-toed gait. In October, the Ratigans increased their reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in their son’s murder to $50,000. The case remains unsolved.

6. Healthy Paws: Boy dog bumps — the mysterious bulbus glandis (March 8, 2018 | 52,566 views)

For reasons only known to the gods of Google, a 2018 sponsored article explaining the function of a little-known part of male dog anatomy that can cause pup parents alarm continues to grace our top stories for another year.

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The countdown to 2022 with this year’s most-read ARLnow stories continues today.

Falling just outside of the top 10 were the freak tornado that tore through Arlington and a story that stirred up patriotic feelings in ARLnow’s commentariat and which received national attention: Marines rescuing a stranded car during torrential downpour.

15. BREAKING: NWS confirms tornado ripped through North Arlington neighborhoods (July 2 | 22,382 views) 

An EF1 tornado, an exceedingly rare weather event for Arlington, uprooted trees and trampolines and tore siding and shingles off houses as it moved from the City of Falls Church through Waverly Hills and Lyon Village before crossing into D.C. The twister had maximum winds of 90 mph.

14. DEVELOPING: Arlington police aware of ‘non-specific, unconfirmed threat’ this weekend (Oct. 29 | 23,236 views)

Police departments increased police presence throughout Northern Virginia after hearing of an unspecific, unconfirmed threat to shopping centers. Some outlets reported the threat was tied to the terror group ISIS and Arlington police investigated a suspicious vehicle outside Fashion Centre at Pentagon City but found no threat.

13. Four bridges connecting Va. to D.C. will be closed starting Tuesday (Jan. 15 | 26,235 views) 

Ahead of the inauguration of President Joe Biden, a number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. were closed for additional security. Biden’s ceremony, days after the storming of the U.S. Capitol, featured historic levels of security.

12. Local TikTok star arrested amid spat with restaurants (Aug. 10 | 30,656 views) 

Here we first encountered Arlington resident Crystal Briscoe, known on TikTok as Coco, who was arrested for ignoring a court order not to talk about a local restaurant employee on social media. A judge later found fault with the order and charges against her were dropped. In the videos leading to her arrest, Briscoe described alleged harassment by employees of two Columbia Pike bars: Rebellion on the Pike and The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant.

11. NEW: Viral video shows Marines helping stranded driver during Thursday’s flooding (Sept. 17 | 34,101 views)

A group of Marines in their dress blue uniforms trudged through floodwaters to help a stranded motorist along Columbia Pike, near the Pentagon, after a storm. During the rescue, documented in a viral TikTok video with nearly one million views as of today, the driver called it “the most American thing ever.”

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(Updated 10:30 a.m. on 12/28/21) Between now and New Year’s Eve, as in years past, ARLnow will count down to 2022 with the most-read articles this year.

Although the pandemic continued to affect our daily lives in numerous ways, COVID-19 stories didn’t break into our top 25. Instead, Arlingtonians will remember 2021 for, among other stories, the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the rise and fall of Brood X cicadas, and the phenomenon that was a local TikTok personality’s legal travails.

The countdown begins below.

25. NEW: Authorities investigating reports of dead and sick birds around Arlington, region (May 26 | 15,772 views)

This spring, dead birds became an eerily common sight along local roads and sidewalks and a hot topic among residents and local and state authorities. ARLnow had one of the earliest news accounts of the phenomenon. Officials investigated different theories for the deaths last summer, but as of our last report, the cause was still a mystery.

24. UPDATED: Wakefield HS football players called racial slurs during recent game (March 18 | 16,044 views)

Wakefield and Marshall high school football players were suspended from three games for fighting that Wakefield students say broke out after they were called racial slurs. Wakefield athletes and parents protested the suspensions and demanded accountability for what they said was the latest example in a pattern of game officials and schools tolerating such behavior. Marshall parents and coaches denied these accusations.

23. UPDATED: Police investigating after two people found dead in apartment (Dec. 22 | 16,552 views)

Last week, we reported that Arlington County police launched an investigation after two people were found dead in an apartment in the Ashton Heights neighborhood near Ballston.

22. JUST IN: Whitlow’s says it will close in June, but may reopen elsewhere (March 24 | 16,663 views)

Longtime local watering hole Whitlow’s on Wilson poured its last drink this summer. The space is set to be filled with a Five Guys and a restaurant and bar called “B Live,” details of which are not known except its association with local nightlife entrepreneur Michael Bramson.

21. Two hurt in morning robbery of local pharmacy (Aug. 18 | 16,934 views)

Two people were hurt in an armed robbery of Preston’s Pharmacy on Route 29 one August morning. The pair brandished guns at employees, sprayed pepper spray, and stole medicine, cash and a witness’s wallet.

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It’s here: with the clock ticking down to 2021, we present the top 5 most-read ARLnow stories of 2021.

Thank you for supporting local news in 2020. We look forward to expanding our team and providing even more local coverage next year.

5. Healthy Paws: Boy Dog Bumps — The Mysterious Bulbus Glandis (March 8, 2018 | 51,086 views)

This sponsored article on the anatomy of a male puppy’s underside from 2018 picked up lots of Google search traffic this year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

4. BREAKING: Virginia is Now Under a Stay-at-Home Order (March 30 | 68,631 views)

“The order, announced Monday afternoon, takes effect immediately and is intended to dramatically slow the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. There are currently 86 reported coronavirus cases in Arlington County and 1,020 cases statewide, according to the Virginia Dept. Of Health.”

3. BREAKING: Arlington Announces First Coronavirus Case (March 9 | 77,418 views) 

Arlington’s first confirmed positive COVID-19 case came on a day in which the Dow plunged 2,000 points and the realization that the world was about to change started to settle in. The individual who tested positive was “an individual in their 60s who recently returned from international travel.”

2. Arlington County Now Reporting Most Coronavirus Infections in Virginia (March 17 | 92,057 views)

“As of noon today, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported 13 coronavirus cases in Arlington. That’s the highest count of any individual jurisdiction in the state — up from 9 cases in Arlington yesterday.” Meanwhile, restaurants were starting to announce temporary closures and officials were urging people to “practice social distancing” — a new term that required a link as an explanation.

1. BREAKING: Arlington Officers Ordered to ‘Immediately Leave D.C.’ (June 1 | 104,290 views) 

After ARLnow reported exclusively that Arlington County police officers in riot gear were assisting with crowd control near the White House, amid Black Lives Matter protests, President Trump made his infamous walk over to St. John’s Church for a photo op. Arlington officers were pressed into duty to push the crowd back, as federal officers around them used tear gas and what some described as excessive force. That prompted the Arlington County Board to recall officers deployed to the District on a mutual aid agreement with U.S. Park Police.

ARLnow will resume our local coverage on Monday. Happy new year, Arlington!

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The countdown to 2021 with ARLnow’s top stories of 2020 continues today with Nos. 6-10.

The following were among our most-read articles of the year. Nos. 1-5 will be revealed tomorrow.

10. JUST IN: Distance Learning to Start School Year ‘Very Probable,’ APS Says (May 22 | 40,495 views)

In May, interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson braced parents for the possibility of distance learning, a decision that would come over the summer. Although Arlington Public Schools eyed a hybrid model, the system ultimately decided on a fully remote model, with plans to return high-needs students over time.

9. BREAKING: Man’s Death in Ballston Ruled a Homicide (Jan. 21 | 42,268 views)

A 24-year-old man dead was found dead in his apartment, which reportedly smelled strongly of bleach. His death — which police said was a result of “trauma to the upper body” — was declared a homicide. It was Arlington’s first homicide of the year. Police have not provided any recent updates about the case; at last check no arrests have been made.

8. Police: Man Threw Dogs from Apartment Balcony (April 28 | 45,534 views)

A 26-year-old man was arrested without bond for tossing two dogs — one of which was his — to their deaths from his fifth-story apartment at the Meridian apartment building at 1401 N. Taft Street. The suspect, Zachary Hanson, entered an Alford plea earlier this month and is set to be sentenced in February.

7. JUST IN: Arlington Opening Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing Site (Mar. 17 | 46,482 views)

In mid-March, Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center partnered to set up a drive-through coronavirus testing site in a county-owned property across from Washington-Liberty High School. At the time, Arlington had 13 cases, the highest of any Virginia locality.

6. JUST IN: Northern Virginia to Enter ‘Phase 2’ Reopening on Friday (June 9 | 51,034 views)

Readers eagerly awaited the news that came in early June: Gov. Ralph Northam would be reopening restaurant dining rooms, indoor gyms, and some entertainment and recreation spaces, on June 12. Since then, Virginia has reinstated some restrictions as cases climb and surpass the peaks seen this spring.

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The countdown to 2021 with this year’s most-read ARLnow stories continues today. Falling just outside the top 10 were stories about a banner, a burglary, a bear, and an early coronavirus case in Arlington.

15. Yorktown Principal Apologizes for Banner Seen as Racist (May 21 | 37,228 views) 

A banner with a collage made from Yorktown High School senior portraits used students of color as the black outline of the school’s logo, sparking criticisms that led to the banner’s removal. The principal apologized and Arlington Public Schools attributed the design to the printing company’s software.

14. Police: Store Employee Charged After Shooting Would-Be Thief (March 29 | 37,388 views)

An employee of Arlington Smoke Shop in Green Valley was charged after shooting and seriously wounding one of three suspects who broke into the store early in the morning. Owner Jowan Zuber twice appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to decry the charges. According to Zuber’s GoFundMe campaign, the employee was granted a partial release until his upcoming trial.

13. Neighborhood Abuzz Over Bear Sighting in East Falls Church (May 27 | 37,455 views)

A bear was spotted near Bishop O’Connell High School, and later closer to I-66, generating tons of chatter on social media. Although the Animal Welfare League of Arlington animal control unit responded, it did not locate the yearling male.

12. JUST IN: Coronavirus Patient Worked in Crystal City Office (March 9 | 38,897 views)

In the early days of the virus, when news outlets tracked individual cases, ARLnow reported exclusively that someone who worked in two Crystal City office buildings, owned by JBG Smith, tested positive for COVID-19.

11. BREAKING: N. Glebe Road Blocked By Serious Crash (April 22 | 39,515 views)

A crash, involving a vehicle that careened down an embankment, resulted in three injuries and a large rescue response, blocking N. Glebe Road between Walker Chapel and Chain Bridge. The teen driver, who walked away from the crash, was later charged with driving under the age of 21 after illegally consuming alcohol. The two passengers were seriously injured.

Our top stories countdown will continue tomorrow.

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ARLnow is continuing our countdown to New Year’s Eve, with the most-read Arlington articles of 2020.

Readers used ARLnow’s coverage to find marches in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, restaurants offering takeout and delivery during the shutdown, and other local news and information. Arlington also remembered one of its own, Colton Poythress, who died in August.

20. Wakefield Graduate and Former Varsity Quarterback Dies at 20 (Aug. 17 | 34,364 views)

This summer, Wakefield High School 2018 grad Colton Poythress died at age 20. Poythress helped clinch Wakefield’s first district championship in 40 years, and helped end the varsity baseball team’s 20-season losing streak in 2017.

19. List: Arlington Restaurants That Are Offering Delivery or Takeout (March 23 | 34,450 views)

After Gov. Ralph Northam ordered restaurants to close for dine-in customers, ARLnow published a list of 150 restaurants in Arlington that switched to pickup and delivery models. The list included restaurants with plans to give back to the community.

18. Petition Asks Arlington Schools to Ditch Microsoft Teams and Use Zoom Instead (July 27 | 35,930 views)

Arlington Public Schools teachers petitioned the school system to switch to Zoom, following the news that APS was planning to start the 2020 school year virtually. Despite their complaints of technical issues with Microsoft Teams, the school system stuck with the software.

17. County Workers Remove Black Lives Matter Chalk Art on Juneteenth (June 19 | 37,150 views)

ARLnow broke the story that the County sent Black employees to power wash a second-grade girl’s Black Lives Matter chalk art, after a resident complained about “graffiti.” This happened on Juneteenth — the day the last African Americans were freed from slavery. The county apologized and ARLnow obtained a memo from County Manager Mark Schwartz.

16. Protest Marches Planned in Arlington Through Sunday (June 4 | 36,033 views)

After news spread of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, residents and organizations planned marches against racism and in support of racial reform. People marched from Courthouse to Clarendon, through Green Valley and all the way to the White House.

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The countdown of the top 30 most-read Arlington articles of 2020 continues today, with numbers 21-25.

The pandemic dominated the headlines this year, but there were big stories on other topics as well.

25. Virginia’s ‘Phase 2’ Reopening to Start Friday, But Will Exclude N. Va. for Now (June 2 | 30,808 views)

“Northam said delaying Phase 2 for Northern Virginia will ‘allow for additional monitoring of health data.’ As of Tuesday, Arlington has reported 236 new coronavirus cases and 10 new hospitalizations over the past seven days.”

24. BREAKING: Arlington County Declares Local Emergency (March 14 | 31,339 views)

“While sitting a safe distance away from each other, members of the Arlington County Board voted 4-0 to approve a declaration of local emergency this morning, amid the coronavirus outbreak.” Even though mask usage was not being widely encouraged at that point, it’s still striking to see photos of groups of people unmasked as the pandemic raged.

23. Another Jump in Coronavirus Cases in Arlington, Fairfax County (March 25 | 31,494 views)

“As of noon on Wednesday, Arlington had 46 known coronavirus cases, an increase from 36 cases on Tuesday. Neighboring Fairfax County, meanwhile, saw its reported cases jump to 76, from 43 on Monday.”

22. Northam Announces New Coronavirus Restrictions in Virginia (Nov. 13 | 31,883 views)

In more recent pandemic news: “The restrictions… include slashing the maximum size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, reducing the age for the state’s mask requirement, and a 10 p.m. alcohol sales curfew at all restaurants and other dining and drinking establishments.

21. BREAKING: Va. Attorney General Sues Advanced Towing (June 25 | 33,330 views)

There is no love lost between Advanced Towing and those whose cars have been involuntarily relocated by the prolific towing outfit. So there was some celebrating in the comment section when it was announced that the company was being sued by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. The suit noted at least two incidents in which Advanced illegally towed police vehicles.

Our top stories countdown will continue next week.

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(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Between now and New Year’s Eve, as in years past, ARLnow will be counting down the most-read articles on the site in 2020.

Needless to say it was a year to both remember and forget, with the pandemic dominating local headlines. But there are plenty of other local news stories that will appear in our countdown, which serve as a reminder that life went on, despite the deadly virus that largely defined the year.

The countdown begins below.

30. List: Black-Owned Businesses In Arlington (June 5 | 26,759 views)

Amid a racial reckoning in Arlington and throughout the U.S., ARLnow compiled a list of brick-and-mortar, consumer-facing businesses in Arlington helmed by Black local business owners.

29. JUST IN: Authorities Warn of Possible Measles Exposure in Arlington (Jan. 31 | 27,115 views)

In what now seems like a quaint exercise in sensible public health policy, Arlington County publicly warned about a potential measles exposure at a restaurant in Crystal City. The restaurant subsequently threatened to sue ARLnow.

28. BREAKING: Second Coronavirus Case Reported in Arlington (March 12 | 27,417 views)

“An individual associated with Christ Church in Georgetown, where a pastor was diagnosed with the disease, developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while self-quarantined at home and tested positive for the disease, the county said.”

27. Blue Angels, Thunderbirds to Fly Over Arlington on Saturday (May 1 | 29,734 views)

A big military flyover of several cities, intended to boost the country’s morale after weeks of pandemic lockdown, attracted lots of attention for its D.C. area leg.

26. County Manager’s Memo Regarding Removal of Black Lives Matter Chalk Art (June 22 | 30,498 views)

After ARLnow broke the story of Black county employees being dispatched to power wash away a little girl’s Black Lives Matter chalk art, we subsequently obtained a soul-searching memo from County Manager Mark Schwartz.

Our top stories countdown will continue tomorrow.

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It’s finally time: we’re just hours away from the ball dropping in Times Square, and we can now reveal the top 5 most-read Arlington stories of 2019.

There’s a theme for this year’s top articles: they’re all breaking news stories.

We’re grateful for the Arlington community trusting ARLnow to quickly and accurately report the big local stories as they’re breaking. We’ll continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage in 2020, now with the added resources of a slightly bigger news team and a new staff photographer.

Without further ado, here are the top stories of the year:

5. Traffic Nightmare Continues As I-495 Inner Loop Remains Closed (41,253 views)

A tanker truck that overturned on the Beltway caused an extended closure of the Inner Loop that extended through the evening rush hour and into the night. That, in turn, produced the most apocalyptic traffic Arlington has seen, at least since the unexpected evening rush hour snow event in January 2016. Fun fact: the photos of a solid 1.5+ mile line of traffic on N. Glebe Road, approaching Chain Bridge, was taken while walking ARLnow’s official newshound, Barley.

4. Police Investigating Death at Whole Foods Parking Lot (49,684 views)

A man was found dead in a car in the Clarendon Whole Foods parking lot one summer night in August. Police investigated and determined that “there is no known threat to the public.” Such language often suggests either a death from a medical emergency or from suicide, though no cause of death was publicly announced.

3. Torrential Rain Causes Major Flash Flooding in Arlington County (64,709 views)

This, in our opinion, was the biggest Arlington news story of the year. The July 8 flash flooding in Arlington was more widespread and damaging than perhaps even our reporting conveyed. What started as a seemingly simple heavy rain became a historic deluge, ending with hundreds, if not thousands, of flooded basements around the county. Homeowners and local businesses alike were left cleaning up a soggy mess, as were some car owners who parked in the wrong place or drove into high standing water (don’t do that!) Eventually an emergency was declared and disaster relief made available. Arlington County not only reported millions in damages to public property, but is now likely to spend many millions more in flood mitigation efforts over the next decade or more.

2. Mass Panic in Ballston After Unsubstantiated Report of Active Shooter (69,711 views)

We now know what happened: a teenager who shouted a video game reference — “Pennywise has sharpshooter activated” — at a showing of the movie “IT Chapter 2” accidentally caused a mass panic, with people in Ballston running away in terror, hearing rumors of a mass shooting at the mall. The panic made national news even though it was completely unfounded, a sign of the times when mass shootings are an all-too-common occurrence. If we may brag a bit: thanks to our on-the-ground reporting, ARLnow reported very early and very clearly that there was a “panic” but “no evidence of a shooting.” On this particular night, breathless reporting about a “possible mass shooting” without the disclaimer, as could be seen on social media and elsewhere, only served to frighten, not inform.

1. Two Shot in Crystal City Office Building (92,320 views)

The initial scanner dispatch rang a bell in our newsroom: police were dispatched to an office in Crystal City for a report of a man having a domestic dispute with a woman who worked in the office. A similar dispatch, to the same office, had piqued our attention a month earlier and prompted an ARLnow editor to Google the name of the office and its address. This time, however, the nature of the call became more dire — 911 callers from inside the office were telling police that the man had locked himself in a room with the woman and that he might have a gun. Officers arrived on scene and shortly thereafter came another radio transmission: “shots fired, shots fired!” That’s how the double shooting in Crystal City on Aug. 28, our most-read story of the year, played out in real time. It turns out that the suspect, Mumeet Muhammad, was a convicted murder, and both he and an officer fired weapons during the incident. Muhammad and the woman were both shot — it’s unclear by whom, exactly — but survived.

See this year’s other top stories: No. 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20.

Feel free to discuss the most-read stories of 2019, or any other local stories, in the comments. Have a great new year, Arlington — see you in 2020!

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