Alexandria, VA

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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There’s been another indecent exposure in Del Ray, this time in an alleyway in the unit block of East Bellefonte Avenue.

The incident occurred at around 6:30 a.m. on Friday, November 20. There was also another incident in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue at around 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, according to Del Ray activist Gayle Reuter. The police did not file a report for the Nov. 13 incident, Reuter said, as the officer told the victim who witnessed the exposure to call him if she saw the suspect again.

A woman reported to police that the suspect, a bald Black man in his 30s, was masturbating with his pants around his ankles.

“We would love for the police to find out who this is and continue to keep the community apprised of what’s happening,” Reuter told ALXnow. “It’s surprising that when there’s this many people out on the street that he would have that much nerve to do this.”

There were also two reports during August of a suspect with a similar description performing lewd behavior in an alleyway in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. The incidents occurred at around 10 p.m. on August 13 and August 25. The incidents are occurring in alleyways near busy areas near businesses and homes.

Alexandria Police Sgt. Mike Nugent recently told the Del Ray Business Association that cases like this often involve the homeless, and that the department is seeing homelessness rising in the nearby neighborhood of Arlandria.

“Call the police right away, and try to recall as much detail as possible. A lot of these cases in the city are connected to homeless,” Nugent said. “If you see something, get away from the danger if there is danger.”

Maps of East Bellefonte Avenue and Mount Vernon Avenue via Google Maps

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The 45th Annual Turkey Trot and Food Drive for ALIVE! started virtually on Saturday, and the nonprofit has set up food collection points all over the city through November 29.

“We have given away 1.1 million pounds of food since the pandemic began,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “The food need continues to grow. The need is still there and we need all the food and financial support we can get to continue to do what we have to do.”

The five mile race is traditionally attended by thousands. Registration costs $10 for children, $20 for ages 13-20, and $25 for everyone else.

“The 2020 Turkey Trot will be a little different from past years,” notes the Turkey Trot website. “First off, this year will be a virtual event, and you will be able to submit a time from any 5 mile run you complete between November 21 and November 29, 2020.”

Donations are already piling up at distribution points.

“Del Ray, as always, we’re blown away by your generosity,” Visit Del Ray said in a Facebook post. “Already, you’ve FILLED the sidewalk in front of  The Dog Store for our food drive for ALIVE — and this is just one of our six drop-off locations!”

This year ALIVE! needs the following: 

  • One-pound bags of rice
  • One-pound bags of dried beans
  • Macaroni and cheese boxes
  • Canned vegetable, soup and fruit (14-15 oz.)
  • Canned tuna or canned chicken
  • Baking mix, such as Bisquick (5-7 oz.)
  • Peanut butter

The food can be dropped at these locations:

  • Old Town North Farmers’ Market (Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Del Ray Psych & Wellness
  • Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap
  • Del Ray Farmers’ Market (Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon)
  • The Dog Store
  • Waxing The City
  • The front porches of 403 E. Custis Avenue and 110 E. Del Ray Avenue

Incidentally, the first Alexandria Turkey Trot in 1975 had 244 participants, and was won by Jack Mehurin in 25 minutes and seven seconds. Last year’s race had 4,965 entries and was won by 23-year-old Ryan Forsyth in 23 minutes and 34 seconds.

There’s more than one way to support ALIVE!, like the first annual Turkey Squat at T.C. Williams High School.

Photo via Visit Del Ray/Facebook

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What a week full of news in Alexandria.

With city offices closed due to Veterans Day on Wednesday, there were still a number of big stories.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on a fraudulent mailer that was sent out to a number of residents before election day. In the story, households with Joe Biden signs posted in front yards were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile.

On Monday, we reported the third murder in the city this year. Yousef Tarek Omar, a 23-year-old Texas man, was shot to death in the West End on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7. Police have released few details of the incident, except the victim’s name, the general time of the incident and that it occurred in the 4800 block of W. Braddock Road.

City Councilwoman Del Pepper announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. Pepper has been on the Alexandria City Council since 1985.

“There’s really not much to say,” Pepper told ALXnow. “There’s a time for everything, and I just felt this was my time. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve served on the City Council.”

We also covered the city’s recovery plan for parts of the city devastated by the pandemic, and it lists a number of programs and strategies for impacted residents and businesses.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria surpassed 4,500 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The number of fatalities is still 76, and Latino residents have the highest number of infections.

Additionally, our weekly poll got a lot of attention this week. This week we asked about Thanksgiving plans, and 60% of respondents said they were eating at home with their household, 30% are planning a small gathering with at least one guest, and 10% are planning a large gathering of family/friends.

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. BREAKING: 23-Year-Old Shot to Death in City’s Third Murder of the Year
  3. ‘Clyde’s at Mark Center’ and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  5. The Waypoint at Fairlington to Break Ground Next Month
  6. Councilwoman Del Pepper Announces She’s Not Running for Reelection
  7. City Council to Consider Publishing Names of Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
  8. Upcoming Signage Plan Could Subtly Shape New Potomac Yard Skyline
  9. One Person Injured in West End Carjacking
  10. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  11. Alexandria Surpasses 4,500 Cases of COVID-19, Counts Now Rising at Summer Pace

Have a safe weekend!

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People tend to fall into familiar patterns, and Alexandria Psychologist Dr. Eleni Boosalis wants her new podcast to help folks get unstuck.

“The pandemic has caused about half of people in the U.S. to have symptoms of anxiety and depression that are pretty severe,” Boosalis told ALXnow. “We also don’t have the benefit of social connections, or routine and predictability. It just seems like from moment to moment we don’t know what’s gonna happen, so everyone’s just in this perpetual state of anxiety right now.”

Boosalis, the owner of Del Ray Psych & Wellness, launched “Why Does This Keep Happening To Me? with Dr. B” on Tuesday (Nov. 10). The shows will be a mix of monologues and conversations about helpful topics.

Boosalis says that her nine therapists have a four month waitlist and she is considering hiring more help.

“We have seen an increase in couples therapy requests, and we have also seen an increase in like substance abuse, depression, panic disorders, and things like that,” she said.

Boosalis has been a psychologist for the last 15 years, and she constantly hears her clients say, “Why does this keep happening to me? I feel stuck.”

“There’s this phenomenon that’s called the repetition compulsion in one of the models of psychotherapy,” she said. “The idea is that we all compulsively repeat and recreate patterns in our life where we feel powerless. We learned that from childhood.”

Boosalis said that improving your state of mind begins with mindfulness.

“Even if it’s uncomfortable, we’re comfortable in our discomfort at times,” she said. “If we can slow down and be in the moment and notice our thoughts, and notice the patterns of our thoughts and the patterns of our choices, then that leads a person to that ‘Aha!’ moment, where you know why you did that, because there’s usually no gap between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. People act, think and feel all at once in one second. The goal is to separate those out and be more aware of yourself.”

Photo via Del Ray Psych and Wellness/Facebook

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Morning Notes


Senators Kaine and Warner Urge GSA to Begin Transition Process
— “An orderly and peaceful transition process is critical as the country continues to grapple with the loss and far-reaching impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.'” [Twitter]

Beyer Asks Residents to Stay Home — “Being tired of the pandemic won’t make it stop, we need to be as careful as possible right now.” [Twitter]

Virtual Restaurant Touchdown Wings & Burgers Opens — “Touchdown Wings & Burgers runs out of Joe Theismann’s Restaurant. In mid-October, ARP opened Touchdown Wings & Burgers, a new brand for the organization.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Library Gets Grant for Climate Change Programming — “By receiving the grant, Alexandria Library has committed to becoming a Climate Resilience Hub.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua 5K Extended to November 11 — “GREAT NEWS! Christ the King Church has extended the Casa Virtual 5K to November 11! You now have 2.5 more weeks to register and participate. This is one way you can support the Chirilagua families that face so much adversity with strength and courage. Can you help us reach our 1,000 km goal?” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. Morning high of 65F with temps falling to near 55. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch. Cloudy skies. Low 48F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Trainer/Instructor — “Olde Towne School for Dogs, the premiere dog training company located in Alexandria, VA serving the D.C. metropolitan area, is looking to hire new full-time trainers to our high energy team in a fast-paced and dog-filled environment!” [Indeed]

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A large flea market is returning to Del Ray this weekend with an expanded selection of vendors.

The community is scheduled to be held at 1990 Mount Vernon Avenue and 1900 Mount Vernon Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 14. Masks are required to enter.

“Our original lot at 1900 Mt. Vernon Ave. will still be bustling while we’ve also added 20 more vending spaces just steps away at the Salvation Army Corps building,” the organizers said on Facebook. “Markets are held the second Saturday of each month.”

All vendor slots for the November and December markets are currently full, but a sign-up is already active for 2021.

The market is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Photo via Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market/Facebook

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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If you’re still looking to get your hands on a bicycle and you’re willing to put a little work into it, the Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative in Del Ray is hosting an as-is bike sale this weekend.

The Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative (1502 Mount Vernon Avenue) is a non-profit, volunteer-run workshop that specializes in teaching people how to properly repair and maintain their bicycles — which will be necessary for anyone looking to pick something up at the sale.

“This sale will be different from our normal sales as almost all of the bicycles will not be ride-able without a professional inspection and at the very least a tune-up,” the cooperative said on its website. “If you like working on bikes and always wanted to refurbish a bicycle, this sale is for you. We will have hundreds of bicycles to look through from kids bicycles, to 90s mountain bikes, to beach cruisers and vintage road bikes.”

The sale is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the cooperative’s warehouse behind 1502 Mount Vernon Avenue.

Photo via Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative/Facebook

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A “profitable sandwich shop” in Alexandria that’s been operating since 1955 — ie Al’s Steak House (1504 Mt. Vernon Avenue) in Del Ray — is now being offered for sale.

The restaurant was listed at BizBuySell.com and the description fits the bill for Al’s Steak House. The iconic cheesesteak in the graphics is the same as well.

The restaurant is listed at an asking price of $149,000 with a cash flow of $50,000.

“Surrounded by retail and residential on a main road with heavy walking traffic,” the broker said on the listing. “This restaurant has a very strong following and highly rated on google reviews. The restaurant was completely renovated in 2016 with all brand new furniture, fixtures & high end equipment.”

Owner James Vincent Breeding died in August as a result of complications from diabetes, according to the Alexandria Times. Breeding took over from the original owner in 2015 and made extensive repairs to the property.

Photo via Al’s Steak House/Facebook

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This weekend was a pleasant surprise for Pat Miller, an Alexandria Living Legend and board member of the Del Ray Business Association. While trick or treating was discouraged due to the pandemic and Halloween expected to be relatively quiet this year, Miller said the neighborhood’s scavenger hunt saw surprisingly active participation.

“It went amazing,” said Miller. “We got over 60 scavenger hunt forms filled out. All these people were walking around, looking and looking in Del Ray.”

Miller said it was a larger response than the the scavenger hunt has ever gotten.

“Everybody has been in their home and secluded,” Miller said. “It was nice, even just as their family, to go out and do something where they could walk up and down the avenue. It was the right thing at the right time, that’s what we were hearing.”

Miller said without trick or treating, kids in the neighborhood had nothing to dress up for. A scavenger hunt around town offered an alternative.

“I believe there were 24 things they had to identify from the business windows,” Miller said. “It was something that may have been kind of hidden. A lot of them were related to decorations.”

Miller said there will likely be another scavenger hunt around Christmas, with details hidden in painted windows across Del Ray.

Visit Del Ray also hosted its annual decorations contests; including homes, pets, and group costumes. The home at 4 W. Custis Avenue took home first prize in home decorations with a spooky summoning display. A Tiger King family costume won first place in the group costumes and a squirrel in a witch hat took home first place in the pet costume category.

Photos via Visit Del Ray/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Trump ‘Super Spreader in Chief’ — “The Super-Spreader-In-Chief strikes again. From coast to coast he visits American communities spreading dangerous aversion to science and public health precautions. He brings large groups of people together under unsafe conditions in state after state, and this is what results.” [Twitter]

Halloween Weekend Events in Alexandria — “While Alexandria police are not planning to close down Lee Street for the annual Halloween party, there are lots of activities Halloween weekend.” [Alexandria Living]

ACT for Alexandria’s #ArtsALX Fundraiser Extended to Nov. 6 — “We are still fundraising to save the arts! 100% of donations will directly support artists in Alexandria. Donation portals open thru Friday, Nov. 6.” [Twitter]

Two Alexandria Restaurants Make Washingtonian’s List for Cozy Escapes — “The Yates family went above and beyond when reimagining the outdoor space at Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap during the pandemic. The 5,200 square-foot set-up has cabanas–hung with Moroccan lanterns–for parties of ten or less; pergolas glowing with string lights; and a new beer garden ringed around a fire pit… Pick (at Del Ray’s Evening Star Cafe) between two homey outdoor areas at this Alexandria mainstay: the Front Porch, where you can sip a bourbon slush by a fire-pit table, and the new, roomy Back Yard.” [Washingtonian]

ALIVE! Hosting Food Distribution Event on Halloween — “The event will be held at two drive-through sites: the parking lots of John Adams Elementary (5651 Rayburn Ave.) and Cora Kelly Elementary (3600 Commonwealth Ave.). Residents can pick up food at either location from 8:30-10:30 a.m. or until supplies last.” [Zebra]

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Gets Pets Displaced by Zeta — “We are so glad we were able to welcome a group of dogs and cats from @LASPCA last night. In preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Zeta, The Louisiana SCPA needed to make extra room in their shelter so they could help animals displaced by the storm.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day) . High 53F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph. A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 37F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Deputy Clerk — “The Deputy Clerk (Grade 7) is assigned operational responsibilities and ensures court’s instructions are executed and legal papers are prepared with accuracy and in accordance with appropriate policies and procedures.” [Indeed]

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