Alexandria, VA

COVID-19 has definitely put a damper on the already slimmed-down list of winter activities, but there are still dozens of activities residents can start registering for next week.

Registration is offered through the City of Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, for City residents and on Friday, Dec. 11, for nonresidents. Winter registration applies to programs taking place January through March 2021.

Programs currently offered include a table game tournament (like ping pong and air hockey), dance classes, hula hoop classes and other socially distanced activities.

“Get ready for a flurry of fun this winter with a variety of in-person options for all ages, plus new virtual programs,” the city said in a press release. “View a complete list of winter programs online. Due to potential schedule and capacity adjustments from COVID-19, a printed or online program guide will not be produced for the winter program season.”

The city said in the press release that health guidelines include symptom screening, face masked, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing protocols. Be sure to register early, because the city noted that limited COVID-19 capacity meant indoor activities will have a smaller capacity than usual.

Photo via City of Alexandria/Facebook  

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On Friday, a government contractor is finally moving into the Victory Center.

The first Jason Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, is the featured screening at The Victory Center (5001 Eisenhower Avenue). Drive-in movies have been popular this year, with movie theaters remaining closed.

The event is sponsored by The Garden and ALX Community. Tickets are $35 per car and benefit local non-profit Athena Rapid Response.

The program is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.

Food trucks are also scheduled to be on-site providing savory and sweet concessions with online ordering.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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A new local dog-themed bar and restaurant wants to help you and your pooch get in the spirit of Christmas.

Brewski’s Barkhaus, a restaurant near Potomac Yard that features an off-leash dog-park, opened in October and is planning to host an Ugly Sweater Party to celebrate the holidays.

The party is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, from 3-6 p.m. at 529 E. Howell Avenue.

Prizes will be awarded for the worst dressed and guests will be able to enjoy specials. The restaurant said on an event listing that reservations are recommended but not required, and COVID guidelines and restrictions will be in effect.

“Tis the season… to deck the paws,” Barkhaus said. “Come support your favorite dog bar at our first ever Ugly Sweater Party!”

Photo via Barkhaus/Facebook

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Not long after Old Town Alexandria’s official tree lighting, Del Ray is planning to rally virtually for its own annual tree lighting ceremony.

The Del Ray tree lighting a virtual program this year and is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. The program is hosted by Visit Del Ray and will streamed via the Zebra Press website. The family-friendly show is scheduled to include Santa and a performance by the Alexandria Singers.

The event is free, but those participating are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the season by making a donation to Carpenter’s Shelter.

“In the spirit of the season, the Del Ray Business Association will collect toiletries for Carpenter’s Shelter, a local nonprofit that helps the homeless achieve sustainable independence through shelter, guidance, education, and advocacy,” Visit Del Ray said in an event listing. “Needed supplies include unscented lotion, deodorant, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Donations will be collected from Sat., Dec. 5-25 at designated bins along Mount Vernon Avenue.”

Photo via Sapan Patel/Unsplash

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Alexandria Living Legend Lillian Patterson, a fourth-generation Alexandrian and former curator of the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM), is planning to host an annual workshop with the museum this weekend to discuss the holiday Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a holiday with roots in America’s Black community celebrated from Saturday, Dec. 26 to Friday, Jan. 1. The holiday incorporates several traditional African festivities and celebrates principals like unity and collective work and responsibility.

The ABHM is planning a virtual how-to workshop at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

“Learn how to do your own celebration as former ABHM curator, Lillian S. Patterson, and ABHM volunteers Cathy Riddick-Brown, and Linda Haughton, show you the origins, concepts, and practices of Kwanzaa,” the museum said in a press release. “You will hear about principals, symbols, fun activities, and more that will enchant you all year long.”

The day will also include a reading of the Kwanzaa story Seven Spools of Thread.

“Participants must register in advance for the free Kwanzaa How-to Workshop,” the museum said. “After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. This will automate the receipt of the Zoom link and a reminder an hour before the event begins. For more information contact 703.746.4356.”

Photo via soulchristmas/flickr

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Local nonprofit Casa Chirilagua is planning to keep with the spirit of Thanksgiving by distributing meals to those in need, but needs some public help for setup and distribution.

“We are distributing 500 meals for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 25,” said the organization, which provides assistance in the Chirilagua and Arlandria neighborhood. “The setup will begin at 1:30 p.m. and the distribution will begin at 2:00 p.m.”

Casa Chirilagua needs volunteers to help

  • Setup tables
  • Organizing the boxes
  • Helping manage the line
  • Make sure people are remaining socially distanced,
  • Handing out boxes
  • Taking tickets
  • Handing out masks
  • Cleanup

The organization asked that those who volunteer make sure they have not been exposed to COVID-19 before they volunteer, that they haven’t experienced any symptoms of respiratory illness within the last 14 days, and that they don’t live with someone who is considered at risk.

Volunteers can sign up through the Volunteer Alexandria website.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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With the approach of the yuletide season, the Lee-Fendall House (614 Oronoco Street) in Alexandria has decked out the home in full 19th century regalia for candlelight tours.

“Celebrate the holiday season with evening candlelight tours of the Lee-Fendall House decked out in Victorian splendor,” the Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden said on Facebook. “Our antique toy exhibit will also be on view.”

The home was originally built in 1785 on land purchased by Major General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee.

The tours are offered every half hour starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. The museum warned that space is limited and reservations will be required. Face masks and social distancing will also be required for tours.

Tickets for the holiday tours are $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-13.

Photo via Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden

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In light of the worsening pandemic, the traditional First Night Alexandria festivities have been adapted to a hybrid drive-in and virtual experience.

The program will include pre-recorded comedy and musical programs projected onto a big movie screen.

“New this year, the 26th annual First Night Alexandria presents ‘A Night of Nostalgia,’ a New Year’s Eve drive-in and virtual concert experience for the entire family on December 31, 2020,” event organizers said in a press release. “First Night Alexandria, a capstone holiday event in Alexandria usually in the format of a live music and performing arts festival, adjusted its format to COVID-19, offering families and friends a safe and enjoyable experience to ring in the New Year.”

The family-friendly program is scheduled for New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) with an early show and a later one. The early program starts at 6:30 p.m. and promises to have the kids home by bedtime. A later program, at 9:30 p.m., will ring in the new year.

For the distanced drive-in experience, tickets are $60 per vehicle, which includes access to a food truck, a goody bag, prizes, access to the big-screen program and fireworks set to music. A $75 ticket gets a premium spot with early access, an enhanced goody bag, and an encore presentation of the show.

The virtual version is $20 with a link to the live-streamed program.

Image courtesy First Night Alexandria

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The Birchmere’s rundown for the next few months is full of as many 2021 rescheduling as upcoming shows, but there’s still plenty on offer at Alexandria’s historic music venue.

One of the most high profile acts scheduled for the rest of 2020 is KT Tunstall, scheduled for Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” was a 2005 earworm that became a hit and featured in everything from The Devil Wears Prada to the 2008 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Coronavirus is on the rise in Virginia again, and the director of Alexandria’s Health Department warned locals to choose lower-risk activities. For its part, The Birchmere is operating at around 40% capacity, or 200 attendees, along with other safety precautions listed on the venue’s website.

Photo via kttunstall.com

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The city’s partnership with Neighborhood Health is continuing this month with a series of four free COVID-19 testing events in the city.

Testing covers everyone above the age of two, though anyone under 18 requires a parent or guardian present. Bringing ID and insurance cards is encouraged, but not required.

Testing events are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday (Nov. 17) — 4-7 p.m. at Flora Krouse Casey Health Center (1200 N. Howard Street)
  • Thursday (Nov. 19) — 2:30-5:30 p.m. at Burke Branch Library (4701 Seminary Road)
  • Saturday (Nov. 21) —  11 a.m.-2 p.m. at William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Avenue)
  • Monday (Nov. 23) — 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Armistead Boothe Park (520 Cameron Station Blvd.)

“All community testing events are walk-up only (no appointment necessary),” the city said on its website. “Please expect to wait 30 minute to one hour from your time of arrival. In order to expedite the check-in process, you may pre-register by calling 703.647.6160, but please note that a pre-registration does not allow you to skip the line.”

nStaff photo by James Cullum

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An upcoming “Cookie Crawl” will send Alexandrians chasing their sweet tooth across Old Town chasing a sugar rush at 25 local boutiques.

This year’s cookie crawl is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 21. Online registration is $30. Participants will stop by each of the stores on the tour and received a pre-wrapped cookie at each site. The cookies are prepared courtesy local bakeries and restaurants. Participants will also receive a commemorative cookie tin.

“We have changed things this year to promote a safe environment,” event organizers said on Facebook. “This year the stroll will take place over the entire weekend. Prior to the event, you will receive a Sign-Up Genius link to schedule a time to pick up your tin. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday, we will have 25 slots for pick up every 30 minutes so we can adhere to social distancing guidelines during.”

Pick-up will start outside The Shoe Hive (127 S Fairfax Street) and masks must be worn at pick-up. Participants must also sign a waiver.

Photo via Bermix Studio/Unsplash

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The Halloween spooky season isn’t quite over. Tomorrow is Friday, Nov. 13, and Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar (109 S. Alfred Street) wants you to spend the unlucky day watching House on Haunted Hill with a black cat.

“Black cats and popcorn are the only way to celebrate Friday the 13th,” the cafe said on its Facebook page. “Watch House on Haunted Hill and spend some time with our resident kitties. Popcorn and soda (or tea, coffee) included in ticket price!”

The program is scheduled to run from 7-9 p.m. and tickets are $30 per person. Popcorn and tea or coffee will also be available during the program.

Mount Purrnon — which opened in August — is a cafe guests can visit with adoptable cats who roam the building.

Photo via Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe/Facebook

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