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Get your stretchy pants ready, because the Well Ray festival is around the corner.

It’s the first year back after a two-year Covid hiatus, and organizers say that the free event on June 11 will go on rain or shine, with a central portion of Mount Vernon Avenue closed off for dozens of health vendors who will have live boxing, pilates and yoga demonstrations.

“It’s great for the community’s physical health, mental health, emotional health and spiritual health,” said Lola Capps of Chrysalis Chiropractic, who is co-chairing the event with Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher. “It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be big, with lots of fun stuff that’s not just for adults, it’s for kids as well.”

The event includes nearly 40 vendors, and is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team.

“We’re very glad to be bringing this event back after two years,” said Fisher, who owns Del Ray Psych and Wellness. “Our goal is to connect people to things that they might not even be thinking about, like introducing them to new modalities or fitness classes, because there are many different things that can help our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing.”

The event includes:

  • A rock wall
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • A zen zone
  • Boxing
  • Dog fitness area
  • Hula hooping
  • Human and canine massages
  • Physical therapy consultations
  • Chiropractic assessments
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Blood pressure screenings
  • Meditation
  • Wellness coaching

Via Facebook

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It wasn’t a washout, but the Alexandria Old Town Springtime Art Festival was a little less busy than expected due to the rain.

On Saturday and Sunday (May 14 and 15) the festival featured dozens of artists at the John Carlyle Square outside of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (600 Dulany Street).

The next art festivals are the 20th Annual Alexandria Old Town Art Festival on September 17 and 18, followed by Art On The Avenue on October 1 in Del Ray.

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The Alexandria Old Town Springtime Art Festival is, despite the name, headed for the heart of the Carlyle neighborhood this weekend.

The art festival is scheduled for Saturday (May 14) and Sunday (May 15) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The art festival will be held at the John Carlyle Square outside of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (600 Dulany Street).

“Alexandria is recognized as one of the country’s premier artistic hubs,” the website said. “All artwork is juried, which provides a higher level of quality, diversity and creativity of art on display, exemplifying the gifted artists in regions from all over the country.”

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Old Town Festival of Speed and Style, photo via Festival of Speed and Sound/Facebook

An annual celebration of fast, unique and/or bizarre cars is coming back to Alexandria this spring for its third year.

The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style, presented by Burke and Herbert Bank, is scheduled to come back on May 22.

The event takes over the 200-400 blocks of King Street and the 100 blocks of North Royal and North Fairfax streets from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“View dozens of rare and exotic cars up close, made famous by their speed, performance and elegance,” the website for the festival said. “This will be enhanced by a presentation of style, fashion and live music provided by over 40 local merchants.”

The event is free to attend, but proceeds from other activities in the festival will go to the USO and local nonprofits ALIVE! and the Campagna Center.

Photo via Festival of Speed and Sound/Facebook

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Alexandria Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker was largely silent during the pandemic. Now he’s back, bell and call and all.

Earlier this month, Fiore-Walker stood at the reviewing stand in his Colonial uniform and opened the Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town. While he’s spoken at numerous online events and small outdoor concerts over the past year, the Scottish Christmas Walk was his first large public gathering since he previously walked through Old Town ringing his bell and declaring, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” at the George Washington Birthday Parade in February 2020.

“It never gets old,” Fiore-Walker told ALXnow. “The common element in all of the events and parades is seeing happy Alexandrians and visitors. For me, it’s about seeing the city so happy. The kids, of course, they think I’m a pirate, but that’s to be expected.”

The 53-year-old Fiore-Walker has created hundreds of cries since he started the job 10 years ago. There was a lot of competition, too, and he beat out 11 other candidates for the position in a “cry-off“. He is the city’s fourth town crier since 1976, and took over after his predecessor William North-Rudin moved away.

Town criers go all the way back to ancient Greece. For thousands of years, people with booming voices and commanding presences educated mostly illiterate populaces with the latest official word on tax increases, the news of the day or public executions. For Fiore-Walker, it means two-to-three monthly events to emcee, or open. It’s a volunteer position, and he has his own uniforms. At private events, he says, the hosts will usually buy him dinner and pay a $150 honorarium to help pay for dry cleaning and gas.

“It’s given me an outlet that is different than my day-to-day,” he said.

Married with two children, Fiore-Walker has lived in Alexandria since 2002. He’s a doctor of neuroscience, and his career includes stints as the associate dean of diversity and inclusion at Georgetown University, the manager of diversity programs with the American Chemical Society and as a senior director at Teach For America. He recently started work as the senior director of the Opportunity & Inclusion Center for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, although his coworkers aren’t yet aware of his other identity.

“I don’t think it’s come out yet,” he said. “Usually it comes out when when you’re meeting people and you say something about yourself that nobody else would know. That’s usually the thing I lead with.”

A metamorphosis occurs when Fiore-Walker puts on the uniform.

“I am no longer Ben,” he said. “I am the town crier for the City of Alexandria. That means that the town crier always uses his turn signals to change lanes, but Ben might not. The town crier doesn’t go shopping in the supermarket, but Ben does. I’m always mindful when I’m wearing the uniform that I’m not me. I’m representing the city. I don’t do things that would bring negative attention to the city.”

That schism has become the subject of jokes within Fiore-Walker’s family.

“A few years ago, I was talking with my sister about the town crier in the third person,” Fiore-Walker said. “And she said, ‘You do realize you are the town crier, right? I just wanted to make sure that you’re not having a mental break here and you realize that you’re the town crier, it’s a role that you inhabit, and that when you take off the costume you are no longer inhabiting that role.'”

Fiore-Walker has no plans to hang up his bell anytime soon. He says the job is too much fun, and he’s also honed stellar vocal cords.

“One thing I’ve learned is I now have a town crier voice and use town crier volume,” he said. “When my kids were younger, I’d read to them and my son would say, ‘Don’t use the town crier voice, daddy.'”

Fiore-Walker’s next performance will be at Market Square for the opening of the First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.

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After being canceled last year, the 50th annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Parade is back on Saturday, Dec. 4.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) will be the grand marshal at Saturday’s parade, which begins at 11 a.m. at St. Asaph and Queen Streets and ends in front of City Hall.

In the parade, dozens of Scottish clans march to “Scotland The Brave” and other favorites as played by the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums.

While the main attraction, the parade is usually the proverbial cherry on top of a weekend caked with Scottish-themed events that historically generates approximately $250,000 in revenues such for the Campagna Center’s Early Learning Center at St. James, it’s New Neighbors program and Building Better Futures program, among others.

The festivities begin on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the Taste of Scotland scotch tasting, which will be held in the newly renovated Atrium building (227 S. Washington Street).

The event is sold out.

Attendees are asked to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, which includes a photo of a CDC vaccination card or a confirmation email from a negative test result.

“Guests who do not bring proof of vaccination/test results will not be allowed into the venue,” the Campagna Center said. “To expedite the check-in process, you may email a photo of your vaccination card to [email protected] by December 1, 2021.”

The festival is not yet back to full strength, as cancellations still include the annual historic homes tours and the Campagna Center’s heather and greens sale.

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Batman, Mr. Incredible, Cruella De Vil… The Del Ray Halloween Parade was back in style on Sunday, October 24.

Thousands of costumed heroes, villains and all in-between showed up for the annual event, which was brought back after a hiatus last year.

The audience also marched along to the beat of Alexandria City High School’s Titan Zombie Band.

Alexandria is full of Halloween-inspired events all week.

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Morning Notes

Metro running at 40% today — “As part of the investigation into the Blue Line derailment, Metro is holding out of service all of its 7000-series railcars, which is about 60% of its rail fleet. Without these rail cars, Metro will operate about 40 trains tomorrow.” [Metro]

Alexandria’s Communications Director Appointed To New Position With Governor’s Office — “The city’s longtime Director of Communications and Public Information, Craig Fifer, has been appointed to a new position. He has been selected by Gov. Northam to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia, effective Oct. 25.” [Zebra]

3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival celebrated in Old Town — “After hitting the doors, here enjoying the 3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival at Oronoco Bay Park.” [Twitter]

Bennett-Parker and Maddox face off in race to House of Delegates — “With the Nov. 2 general election only a few weeks away, the race for the 45th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates is heating up between Democrat Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Republican Justin David Maddox.” [Alexandria Times]

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A power outage in Del Ray has shut down a number of businesses, although the annual Art on the Avenue festival today (October 2) is still happening. The event is one of the biggest events in the city and draws tens of thousands of people.

“We have a right to expect more from @DominionEnergy,” tweeted Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “Plunging a central business district into darkness for the better part of their biggest day of the year, with no inclement weather, is UNACCEPTABLE.”

The Alexandria Health Department has shut down a number of businesses due to the outage, although most of the art vendors don’t need power to operate along Mount Vernon Avenue. The Del Ray Business Association’s set-up team was out at 5 a.m. working in the dark.

“For some of those businesses this is literally the busiest day of the year,” said Del Ray Business Association Board member Gayle Reuter. “Restaurant staff are just waiting there with all the food they bought, and it’s very frustrating. But the festival is unbelievable. It’s one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen. It’s just really sad for local businesses without power. They’re the ones who have been hurting.”

The festival ends at 6 p.m.

Via Dominion Energy

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Morning Notes

Board members who backed sale of River Farm resign — “Five board members of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) who backed the sale of historic River Farm, including its chair, have resigned, the organization said Thursday. Their departure from the evenly split governing body leaves only members who have opposed selling the Potomac River property that once formed part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” [Washington Post]

Alexandria Love Your Pet Day Festival is on Sunday — “One week to go until the Alexandria Love Your Pet Day Festival! Join us next Sunday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the spacious Oronoco Bay Park for this free event with something for everyone — including well-behaved, leashed pets! Enjoy amazing performances, meet adoptable animals, visit fantastic vendors or grab a drink in the Port City beer garden!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Health Department hosting free flu shot clinic Saturday — “The Alexandria Health Department will host a free flu shot clinic on October 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., inside Francis C. Hammond Middle School (4646 Seminary Road). Parking will be available. Flu shots will be provided at no cost, and proof of residency or insurance will not be required. The clinic will be open to adults and children ages 6 months and older. The Alexandria Health Department encourages all members of the community to get a flu vaccine. The higher dose version of the flu shot for seniors will not be available at the clinic, but may be available through a pharmacy or healthcare provider.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 72F. Winds light and variable… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 52F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Deputy sheriff — “Deputy Sheriffs primarily work in a direct supervision adult detention center, housing approximately 350 adult inmates. Deputies manage inmate living units, handle inmate discipline, respond to inmate requests, supervise inmates, and resolve problems. Other responsibilities of a Deputy Sheriff outside of the Detention Center include service of court papers; warrant execution, courthouse/courtroom security, prisoner transportation, community engagement and general law enforcement duties.” [Governmentjobs.com]

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