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Firefly (photo by Bruce Marlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Arlington Firefly Festival is returning to Fort C.F. Smith Park next month.

On Sunday, June 19, the festival celebrating insects that light up summer nights is back for the first time since 2019. Last year, a smaller firefly “prowl” (essentially, a nature walk) was held due to the pandemic.

This year there will be firefly arts and crafts, bug bingo, storytelling, a nature walk, and flashlight games. All are encouraged to go on a firefly hunt, catching and releasing the twinkling bugs.

Naturalists will also be on hand to explain how to best attract fireflies and ways to maintain backyard habitats to encourage insect visitors.

“Fireflies are fascinating and inspire a sense of nostalgia for many adults,” saud the press release. “The festival is an opportunity to introduce the next generation of citizens to the wonders of the night sky and the value of natural spaces.”

The event is sponsored by the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. Registration began last week.

In general, fireflies are not lighting up the night sky as they used to.

“There are fewer, like a lot of insects,” says Rita Peralta, Outreach Manager at the Long Branch Nature Center and in charge of putting on the festival. “It’s largely referred to as an insect apocalypse. Like a lot of animals, it’s due to, mostly, habitat loss.”

But on warm Arlington summer nights, fireflies can be found across the county. The best place to see their nightly light show is near undistributed mature trees, in areas that have little light pollution.

That’s why Fort C.F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood is a great spot for the festival, says Peralta, because of its tree canopy and open meadows.

There are about 2,000 different firefly species in the world, with anywhere from 24 to 36 species calling our region home. Their ability to light up is part of their mating process, but one local species uses the light as a way to attract a meal.

“One local firefly species — the Femme Fatale or Photuris genus — is predatory,” noted the release. “The female will send a false signal to a male of another species to attract him and will then eat him when he arrives to mate.”

The festival starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs for two hours. Admission is $7 and tickets can also be purchased at the event, in addition to online. Heavy rains will cancel the event and there’s no rain date.

As of today, more than 100 people have already registered online, according to the county’s website.

Photo by Bruce Marlin via Wikimedia Commons

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Arlington police believe a pair of suspects criss-crossed the county early Tuesday morning, breaking into cars and stealing two.

The series of thefts happened in the Glencarlyn, Bluemont and Woodmont neighborhoods, according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. Arlington has recently seen a rash of vehicle crimes, including the theft of airbags from 20 Hondas in late April and the theft of nearly a dozen catalytic converters in March and April.

The latest crime spree was reported to police early Tuesday. Five cars were broken into and items were stolen from one. Additionally, two SUVs — a Honda and an Acura — were reported stolen.

From ACPD’s crime report:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05100037/05100054/05100068, 5500 block of 3rd Street S./5600 block of 8th Street N./2900 block of 24th Street N. At approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 10, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed two unknown male suspects attempt to enter into her vehicle, during which she yelled and the suspects fled the scene in a silver SUV. The investigation determined that the suspects entered into and rummaged through approximately four victim vehicles and stole personal items from one of the vehicles. Additionally, it was discovered two vehicles were stolen from the 5600 block of 8th Street N. and the 2900 block of 24th Street N. The stolen vehicles are described as a silver in color, 2017 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate UDE1466 and a gray in color, 2015 Acura RDX bearing VA license plate WTARUSH. The two suspects are described as tall, unknown race males with skinny builds, wearing dark clothing and masks. The investigation is ongoing.

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Arlington’s 17th annual “Artful Weekend” art show and sale starts today and continues through this weekend.

Presented by the Arlington Artists Alliance, the fair highlights over 35 local artists and their wares across a variety of media including ceramics, jewelry, glasswork, and more.

The opening reception kicks off tonight, Friday, at the historic Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.), from 6-8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and the artists will be present.

The free event, described as “great for holiday shopping,” will continue Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m.

The Arlington Artists Alliance works to create and promote local art in the county, with full membership options for Arlington artists. The alliance currently has two art galleries, the Gallery Underground in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive), and Gallery Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd).

Photo via Arlington County

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Christian community based in a North Arlington neighborhood is the focus of a new Netflix docuseries called The Family, which alleges that the group is a shadowy right-wing cabal with an immense sphere of influence.

The series premiered on Netflix last Friday (Aug. 9) and has sparked discussion across the internet. The Family alleges that the group called The Fellowship, whose most public role is organizing the National Prayer Breakfast, plays a nebulous role in swaying public policy and government leadership for religious purposes.

The Family is based largely on two books by author Jeff Sharlet, whose time in the organization’s complex in the Woodmont neighborhood is the subject of the first episode of the show. Much of the first episode is reportedly an inside look at the group’s facilities at the end of 24th Street N., near Fort C.F. Smith Park.

At The Cedars — the group’s mansion headquarters — and its grounds, The Fellowship hosts international dignitaries and operates a pair of group homes for young men and women. As in all things, the group has kept a fairly low profile in the neighborhood, though trouble did arise in the early 2000s when some residents of the facility were arrested and pled guilty to two burglaries in the neighborhood.

The show spotlights some conflicts with the neighbors, with members of the Woodmont Civic Association saying The Fellowship has a registry of which neighbors support and which neighbors oppose the organization.

Some of the residents who are critical of The Fellowship have said in the past that the VIP traffic to and from The Cedars is disruptive. Among the high profile visitors to the facility, as detailed by Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark in 2011:

Hillary Clinton in her memoir wrote of an uplifting lunch in the mansion as a new first lady in 1993; singer Michael Jackson borrowed its rooms soon after the 9/11 attacks; conscience-troubled Republican strategist Lee Atwater and disgraced United Way chairman William Aramony took refuge on its bucolic grounds; so did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Anita Hill ordeal.

Some attention was focused on the organization in recent years as high-profile sex scandals involving politicians pointed back to The Fellowship. The second episode of the show focuses on the Arlington group’s connection to the C Street Center, a townhouse in D.C. reportedly operated by The Fellowship that housed members of congress at discounted rates.

The show also questions the tax-exempt status of an organization that operates, according to the documentary, more like a private club than a church. According to Arlington County records, the Arlington locations owned by Fellowship Foundation Inc. are considered tax-exempt.

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A county facility that serves people with developmental disabilities was spray painted with “an array of racial and gender slurs” earlier this week.

Staff members at the Woodmont Community Integration Center on the 2400 block of N. Fillmore Street discovered the hateful graffiti all over the building and a vehicle early Tuesday morning. Police were called and are still investigating the incident, an ACPD spokeswoman said.

The center shares the building, in Woodmont Park, with the YMCA’s Woodmont Gymnastics Center.

“When staff arrived for work on Tuesday morning, they found an array of derogatory words written across the outside walls and windows of the CIC,” a tipster tells ARLnow. “Similar words were also written adjacent to the main entrance of the YMCA (on the upper level), on several disabled parking signs, and a van.”

The graffiti has since been removed by county crews, but the center closed early on Tuesday due to the nature of the words, which were described by a county official as “derogatory” and “hateful.”

“We will be exploring additional measures to increase safety at the site, and the Arlington Police will continue heightened surveillance of the entire area,” wrote Arlington Dept. of Human Services Director Anita Friedman, in a letter sent to “families and friends of the Community Integration Center.”

The full letter is below.

Family and Friends of the CIC — Upon arriving for work on Tuesday morning, August 5th, staff noticed the walls and glass windows adjacent to the entrance of the CIC covered with an array of racial and gender slurs, as well as derogatory words targeting people with developmental and other disabilities. Similar words were also written on the entrance to the YMCA (upper level of the building), signs for disabled parking, and the MVLE van, which was parked in the main parking lot and used for the Arlington cleaning enclave.

The staff immediately contacted the Arlington County Police, which responded to the scene right away. This matter remains under investigation by the Arlington Police.

The Arlington Departments of Environmental Services and Parks and Recreation also responded to the CIC to begin the process of removing the hateful words from the glass windows and walls. Cleaning the glass windows was relatively easy; however, removing the words from the brick walls has been more difficult. We are hopeful to have zero physical evidence of the words by the end of the week, though it will take much longer for the hurt caused by such words to heal.

ServiceSource, in consultation with DHS staff, made the decision to close the program on August 5th to allow time for clean-up and to process the emotional impact on staff, which will be ongoing. We also wanted to minimize the exposure of such hatred to our participants of this program.

DHS staff trained in trauma and crisis management were at the CIC to support the ServiceSource staff and process this event. Lastly, the County Manager and Arlington County Board have been made aware of this matter.

I personally condemn this kind of hatred. It has no place in our community and will not be tolerated by our leadership. Our staff here at DHS are working closely with ServiceSource to ensure the continued safety of all CIC participants and staff. We will be exploring additional measures to increase safety at the site, and the Arlington Police will continue heightened surveillance of the entire area.

Thank you for continuing to entrust your son or daughter to our care along with Service Source as our partner. Please feel free to reach out to La Voyce Reid, Bureau Chief, Developmental Disability Services, with any questions or concerns you may have.

Ashley Hopko and Vernon Miles contributed to this report.

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