Alexandria, VA

Governor Ralph Northam’s guidance easing restrictions on public gatherings takes effect today, and groups in Alexandria are already planning a number of in-person events that traditionally bring in tens of thousands of people.

Northam recently announced that effective April 1, additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Additionally, entertainment venues must continue operating at 30% capacity with a maximum of 500 patrons; recreational sporting events can increase 30% capacity, or from 25 people to 100 people per field; and graduation events must have a cap of 5,000 people or 30% capacity for outdoor events.

The Alexandria Old Town Springtime Art Festival is scheduled as an in-person event on May 15 in the city’s Carlyle neighborhood.

Additionally, the Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair is being planned as an in-person event this summer, and Del Ray’s Art on the Avenue won’t be virtual like it was last year. The city calendar does not yet include any parades or celebrations.

“Our special events staff is working closely with event organizers to determine the right approach,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “I miss parades. I cannot wait until we can safely gather as a community.”

Art on the Avenue features hundreds of artists and routinely brings in 75,000 visitors to Mount Vernon Avenue.

“I’m beyond thrilled to get back to living life,” said Bill Blackburn of Pork Barrel BBQ. “Looking forward to Art on the Avenue — one of my favorite days in Del Ray.”

Alexandria Makers Market founder Alyssa Kovach has received applications from event organizers to participate as a vendor at Art on the Avenue and the Old Town and Arts and Crafts Fair.

“I’ve gotten the applications and we’re optimistically moving forward,” she said. “I take a lot of responsibility for people’s safety, so I want to keep our makers safe. I want to keep the public safe. I don’t want to rush into it until I know that it’s the right thing to do.”

The Del Ray Business Association organizes Art on the Avenue, and DRBA President Lauren Fisher said that such an event is part of a collective healing process for the community.

“As restrictions begin to life, the business community is excited to gradually start hosting live events,” Fisher said. “I believe that both the businesses and citizens are ready to engage in familiar community traditions, which is undoubtably, play an integral role in the collective healing process. We are especially excited about the scheduled return of one of our signature annual events, Art on the Avenue in October. Of course, we will continue to monitor the health risk to our community and will make decisions in accordance with city, state, and federal guidelines.”

Photo via Art on the Avenue/Facebook

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If you’re tired of being cooped up and want to take advantage of the spring weather, the Del Ray Vintage and Flea Market is returning on April 10.

The market will return for its third season in two open-air lots at the corner of Mount Vernon and Bellefonte Avenues in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, according to a press release.

“The market provides vendors and shoppers an opportunity to participate safely at an outdoor event on a monthly basis during April-December,” the release said. “By using two adjacent parking lots — Del Ray Pysch & Wellness (1900 Mt. Vernon Ave.) and the Salvation Army Citadel Corps (1804 Mt. Vernon Ave.) — there is ample room to offer a wide variety of vendors for shoppers, also including food, live music, and antique appraisals. Vendors from Alexandria as well as greater Northern Virginia set-up to sell their wares.”

The market was founded in 2019 to celebrate vintage goods and antiques, and since then has become a community tradition.

“I always love the thrill of finding new treasures as well as letting go of my own so new owners can appreciate them,” co-founder Amy Eggers said in the release. “My aesthetic changes often so the flea market is the perfect place to source new decor and home accessories with character.”

The release also noted that on-site antique appraisals were added to the market in 2019, operated by appraiser and Del Ray resident Monika Schiavo, who also runs an online series called Trash or Treasure through The Zebra Press.

Photo via Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market/Facebook

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With the still active threat of COVID-19 in Alexandria, the George Washington birthday parade is unsurprisingly canceled, but a series of other events around Alexandria are scheduled to celebrate the first president’s 289th birthday.

The 13th annual “Cherry Challenge” is scheduled throughout that month, with local restaurants creating cherry-centric dishes to celebrate the entirely fictional myth of Washington and the cherry tree.

“Each restaurant will develop its own cherry cocktail, appetizer, entrée, and/or dessert, in honor of our distinguished native son,” Visit Alexandria said in a press release. “The competing restaurants and their entries will be listed on WashingtonBirthday.com. Patrons can digitally rate their favorite dishes and winners will be announced on the website and Facebook page. For more information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com.”

Other events around town include:

  • American Legion Post 24’s “Run, Walk, n’ Roll” — A commemorative event encouraging locals to walk, run or roll over 24 miles around the area. Registration is $24 and open until Jan. 31.
  • Hunt for Washington — a roughly hour/hour-and-a-half scavenger hunt around Old Town Alexandria associated with Washington. According to Visit Alexandria, “start by printing a clue sheet at home and bring it with you as you traverse the heart of Old Town and then use your sleuthing skills to find answers to the clues. By February 28, submit your findings to [email protected] There are prizes and mementos associated with this event.”
  • The Great Theater of Action: The Life of George Washington in Four Acts — a virtual chat with a reenactor every Friday in February at 7 p.m. According to Visit Alexandria: “Join George Washington every Friday in February as he discusses various periods of his life and engages the audience. The first week will be about his youth; the second week will delve into the American War for Independence; the third week will cover his post-war retirement at Mount Vernon and his time presiding over the Constitutional Convention and the last installment will cover his presidency and final retirement years. $20 admission per event or $60 for admission for all events.”
  • Christ Church Churchyard Tours — Tours of one of the oldest graveyards are hosted every Saturday in February from noon to 2 p.m. “Hear from Christ Church docents about the churchyard’s unique history, Washington’s connection with Christ Church and other presidents who worshipped there,” Visit Alexandria said. “15-minute tours will be given every Saturday in February (6th, 13th, 20th & 27th) from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.”
  • George Washington’s Alexandria Tours — tours of Old Town offered every Sunday in February that will focus on locations associated with Washington and his colleagues. “The tour begins behind the Torpedo Factory’s south entrance and in front of Vola’s Dockside Grill at 101 N. Union Street,” Visit Alexandria said. “Physical distancing, masks and reservations required. Reserve your slot on Facebook or Eventbrite at WashingtonBirthdayEvents.eventbrite.com.”
  • Birthnight Banquet & Ball — that annual birthnight ball is being held virtually this year on February 13, 2021 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at AlexandriaVA.gov/shop.
  • Q & A with Officers of the First Virginia Regiment and an Officer of the Opposing Force — a virtual Q&A with reenactors who will discuss life in the military during the Revolutionary War and take audience questions related to the war. The event is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5.
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony  to honor the Soldiers of the American Revolution — a wreath laying is scheduled for Feb. 15 at 11 a.m., hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House (323 S. Fairfax Street).
  • George Washington National Birthday Celebration — a virtual celebration hosted by Mount Vernon scheduled for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. “In February, patriots from across the country will gather in the comfort of their own homes to salute General Washington with an online program featuring performances and stories from actors, musicians, and historians,” Visit Alexandria said. “A highlight of the celebration includes a birthday toast to General Washington. $5 recommended donation. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to MountVernon.org/gwbirthday.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

COVID-19 Deaths Now at 94 in Alexandria — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: 2,929 Alexandrians vaccinated; 3 additional deaths (94 total); Positive tests up 80 to 8,387 in the City (637 in last 7 days); 7-day Positivity Rate up to 10.5% 2 new hospitalizations.” [Twitter]

Northam Says Virginia Ready for Inauguration — “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said his state is ‘ready’ as the FBI warned of possible violent demonstrations at capitols across the country, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.” [Twitter]

Mayor Says Volunteers Needed for Vaccination Efforts — “As we dramatically expand our vaccination effort and prepare for the long-haul, we will need many more volunteers. We need those with medical training and without to join our Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps. Please sign-up today!” [Twitter]

Ada’s On The River Opens on the Waterfront — “It was a dilapidated warehouse. We backed out a couple of times. We thought originally this might be too far south; it’s not King and Union, but it’s awesome. The pedestrian traffic is amazing.” [Alexandria Living]

Virtual Events Planned for George Washington Birthday Celebration — “This year marks the 289th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Next month, his adopted hometown will introduce new and virtual events to celebrate. Unfortunately, because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the annual parade has been cancelled. But there are still exciting events planned for residents to enjoy.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Police Permanent Medication Drop-off Temporarily Closed — “The Permanent Medication Drop Box at Alexandria Police Headquarters will be closed from today, January 14 – January 25.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Mostly cloudy with some showers in the afternoon. High 53F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low near 35F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Front Desk Clerk — “Borger Management, Inc. has an opportunity for a customer service enthusiast interested in working as a part-time Concierge from 3 PM – 11 PM Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.” [Indeed]

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The Friendship Firehouse Museum has come to the rescue yet again. With Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend called off this year, the city’s oldest firehouse will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

The one-day-only event costs $2 for an entire group of up to per ticket (free for city residents), and only groups of 10 people will be allowed in at a time. The museum has sporadically opened since the onset of the pandemic, and anyone wanting to stay safe can also take a Google 360 virtual tour.

The Friendship Fire Company harkens back to 1774, and is the first fire company in Alexandria. It opened at its current location at 107 S. Alfred Street in Old Town in 1855, and displays include fire engines from the 19th century, hoses, buckets and axes.

The museum is asking visitors the following:

  • Wash hands upon arrival (in museum restrooms or at hand-sanitizing station at the entrance)
  • Wear a face covering while visiting as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia (exceptions include children under 10 and people with health conditions that do not allow them to wear face coverings)
  • Follow one-way traffic patterns through the museum and maintain physical distancing
  • Limit group sizes to less than ten people
  • Please do not touch exhibits or displays

In case you missed it, Alexandria’s official holiday ornament this year features the 1858 Prettyman Hose-Reel Carriage, which usually stands on display in the firehouse and is being completely renovated. The ornament costs $20.

Photo via Friendship Fire Company/Facebook

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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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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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If you’re finishing what feels like the longest week in American history with a need for a strong drink and a bit of distraction, the city is hosting an event next week that might help take your mind off things.

The Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee and the Office of Historic Alexandria is hosting a “Beaujolais Nouveau Virtual Tasting Party” as a celebration and study of French wines. The virtual event is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19.

“You are cordially invited to join us on Thursday, November 19th for a special tasting of French wines, culminating with the 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau,” the city said on an event listing. “In one evening, learn how to taste and pair French wines from a variety of styles such as effervescent sparkling wine, crisp delicious whites, bold red wines and of course the delicious Beaujolais Nouveau. Award winning wine educator and author Robert Cavanaugh leads this tasting with special tips on holiday wines, seeking out great values, and fun ways to make your food and wine pairings easier.”

The event listing noted that the Wegman’s in Alexandria (7905 Hilltop Village Center Drive) will have the wines available at the wine desk the day of the tasting.

Tickets for the tasting are $15 and the session will be held on Zoom.

The city release notes that the wines being sampled are:

Sparking: Henri de Villamont Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé (Burgundy). Pairs with salads, sushi and charcuterie.

White: La Chapelle du Bastion Picpoul de Pinet (Languedoc). Pairs with seafood, pork and poultry.

Red: Chateau Des Aladeres Corbieres Selection Vieilles Vignes

(Languedoc-Roussillon). Pairs with beef, pasta and veal.

Beaujolais Nouveau: Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages 2020 (Beaujolais). Pairs with lamb, steak, and brie.

Photo via Hermes Rivera/Unsplash

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In 1777, the original Tall Ship Providence found something eerie off the coast of New York — an abandoned, rudderless ghost ship full of rich clothing, bread and even a dog.

“We came within pistol shot and hailed her, but received no answer,” noted Marine Captain John Trevette in his diary.

Trevette was ordered to inspect the ship with his Marines, and found “all the beds and all the trunks full of rich clothing, and chests with keys in them.”

Incidentally, Alexandria is a great place to tell ghost stories. There are ghost and graveyard tours, a ghost tour pub crawl, and on Friday, October 30, the Tall Ship Providence will host Halloween story time at 11:30 a.m. and noon.

The Tall Ship Providence, located on the Alexandria waterfront, is a replica of the first naval warship commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1775.

Below is the story from Tall Ship Providence shipmate AB Barlow:

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump is Suppressing Votes — “Donald Trump wants to illegally stop Americans – including members of our military serving overseas – from voting. The counter to this is simple: vote.” [Twitter]

Mayor Defends Kamala Harris’ Dancing After Criticism — “I am a ‘younger’ elected official and I frequently dance (and sing) to Mary J. songs (more ‘Just Fine’ than ‘Work That’) and I cannot wait until next year when we have a Vice President who does too.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Restaurant Partners Adds Air Purification Technology — “The Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology purifies the air by attacking and killing viruses, mold spores and bacteria, according to ARP. Created by Global Plasma Solutions, it is the first air purification solution to test effectively neutralize the coronavirus and achieves a 99.4 percent reduction within a half hour.” [Patch]

Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy Gala Tonight — “ACAP will host a virtual community event (today), Oct 29, 5:30 pm, featuring a celebration of its 20th anniversary and the release of annual teen pregnancy data by the Alexandria Health Department.” [Twitter]

Virtual Paint Night Tickets Available to Benefit Volunteer Alexandria “Join Alexandria Living Magazine and local acrylic artist Kellie Sansone for a virtual painting class, where participants will paint a pineapple — a symbol that means ‘welcome’ and is used quite often in Alexandria. The majority of proceeds will benefit Volunteer Alexandria, a local organization that matches volunteers of all ages with opportunities here in Alexandria. The cost of your ticket includes supplies in addition to the class!” [Alexandria Living]

Greenstreet Gardens Has an Influx of Pumpkins — “Still need carving #pumpkins ? We have lots to choose from!” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Periods of rain. Potential for heavy rainfall (during the day). High 63F. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%. 1 to 2 inches of rain expected. Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Sales and Marketing Manager — “Looking for marketing manager to develop and maintain social media platforms. To increase brand awareness. Responsible for posts, create email campagins. Working to create advertising, special offers, special events. Create photography and video posts. Copy, write and proofread all marketing materials. Need at least 2-3 years experience. [Indeed]

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