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David Keltz as Edgar Allen Poe (image via City of Alexandria)

One of Alexandria’s more unique Halloween traditions, a reenactment of Edgar Allen Poe’s 19th-century speaking engagements, is set to return for two nights later this month.

Every year, The Lyceum (201 South Washington Street) hosts actor David Keltz to read a collection of Poe stories in character as the dour author.

“This year’s performance will include two popular short stories, poems, literary criticism, and a comic essay never before performed at The Lyceum,” the Office of Historic Alexandria wrote in the weekly newsletter This Week in Historic Alexandria.

Keltz has been performing as Poe since Halloween night in 1991 at Poe’s grave in Baltimore.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the performance is scheduled to run from 8-9:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30 and Monday, Oct. 31. Tickets are $20 and available online.

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There are a number of ways to volunteer in Alexandria this fall.

Art lovers can get their fix by volunteering as gallery guides at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and sports enthusiasts can become volunteer sport coaches. The Carlyle House also needs a volunteer tour guide.

There are also a number of tutoring and mentoring positions available, in addition to available food distributor and donation sorting positions.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s a list of Volunteer Alexandria’s new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Teach Kids to Read — “Wright to Read is a literacy tutoring-mentoring program that works to match volunteer tutor-mentors with Alexandria City Public School students who need extra support in their literacy skills. Our goal is not only to help give this child support along their reading journey (including access to books, resources, and a larger reading community), but also a mentor through elementary school and beyond.”
  • Distribute Food With ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc.”
  • More opportunities at ALIVE! — The nonprofit also needs drivers, a furniture moving attendant, and warehouse volunteers.
  • Theater group needs support — Momentum Collective is looking for a new board member, a costume designer and a set builder.
  • Youth Sport Coaches — Preside over team activities including all scheduled practices and games. Adhere to RPCA policies, rules and objectives Responsible for maintaining care of all RPCA Sports equipment. Lead by example among team parents to support the responsibilities of the referee and league leadership. Coach an assigned group of children and focus on skill development, safety, fair, play, sportsmanship and fun.”
  • 4-H Youth Development Club Volunteers — “We are currently looking for volunteers that would like to build clubs on any topic of interest, such as, dogs, sewing, robotics, or sports.”
  • Food Rescuer — “Food rescuers pick up surplus food from food donors in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia (businesses, restaurants and grocers) and deliver it directly to receiving agencies (community kitchens, food pantries, etc.) that feed our hungry neighbors. In your own vehicle and on your own time, it usually takes only 30 to 60 minutes to complete this incredibly rewarding and essential mission. Get started on the website and app to see the complete schedule of local food rescue opportunities.”
  • Arise outreach volunteer — “ARISE is a new guaranteed income pilot program that plans to give $500 a month to 170 City of Alexandria residents for two years. A research team will evaluate the ARISE program outcomes which will inform future efforts and policy decisions.”
  • Sexual Assault Center Hotline Advocate — “Volunteers staff the 24-hour hotline on evenings and weekends. Volunteers provide accompaniment, emotional support, crisis intervention, advocacy, and referrals to empower survivors of sexual violence in person at the hospital/police department or over the phone. Volunteers must attend a 40-hour training.”
  • Shelter Supervisors with Alexandria Domestic Violence Program — “As a program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, volunteers play a key role in providing services to those affected by domestic violence. Volunteers with our program interact personally with individuals in need–an opportunity that many find extremely fulfilling.”
  • Alexandria Library opportunities — The Alexandria Library needs a volunteer to run a games program for seniors, a volunteer with the Trash Trekkers program, a Knit Night volunteer, a computer class volunteer, and gardening support.
  • Tour Guide at Carlyle House Historic Park — “Looking for a fun and relaxing volunteer opportunity? Carlyle House Historic Park, a colonial house museum in Old Town Alexandria, seeks volunteer docents to give public tours of this historic building. Carlyle House, built in 1753, interprets the home and family of John Carlyle, a merchant and town founder.”
  • Sixth Annual Spooky Science Expo — “The Watergate at Landmark Youth Committee will be holding its sixth annual science event (Spooky Mad Science Expo) for kids and teens (October 15). The event will celebrate science and Halloween… As in every year, we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run the event.”
  • Casa Chirilagua Volunteers — Casa Chirilagua is looking for one-on-one mentoring, their kids club, a volunteer to oversee the teen study hall, help with the high school program, a volunteer for teen bible study, and assistance with their middle school program.
  • Dog adoption event needs volunteers — “Lucky Dog Animal Rescue has an adoption event the FIRST Sunday of every month at the Potomac Yard PetSmart – 3351 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22305. Come spend the afternoon with a Lucky Dog!”
  • Torpedo Factory Gallery Guide — “Gallery Guides must feel comfortable interacting with the public about the work at the exhibition with potentially sensitive content and handling artwork sale inquiries. Gallery Guides must be at least 18 years of age or older.”
  • Food and grocery volunteer — “For over 15+ years, as part of its Outreach Ministry, the Meade Memorial Episcopal Church has been committed to the Emergency Food Assistance Ministry, to help transform our community, our neighbors, and ourselves. The church provides lunches to residents from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. We need help to setup tables and distribute lunches every weekday, except on certain holidays. We are asking all volunteers to arrive at 11: 15 a.m.”
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Poster for Underworld event at The Birchmere (image via The Birchmere)

The Birchmere’s (3701 Mt Vernon Avenue) annual Halloween event Raven’s Night is scheduled to return next month, along with a slew of other musical acts.

Raven’s Night is returning for its 10th year. The event features belly dancing, live music, a costume contest and a pre-show carnival.

This year’s theme is Underworld, emphasizing demons, witches and wizards. Tickets are $35 and the event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29.

Singer, songwriter, and composer Rufus Wainwright is scheduled to perform at The Birchmere at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12. In addition to writing two operas and setting Shakespeare sonnets to music, Wainwright was also featured in the Shrek soundtrack.

Apparently, a different version of the song was used in the movie vs the soundtrack, but this is an Alexandria news site and not a Shrek news site so that’s as far into that as we’ll go.

The band 10,000 Maniacs was scheduled to perform late in October. but The Birchmere said family and health challenges have led the band to cancel their tour.

Other shows coming up include:

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As we near the end of September, spooky season is creeping up on the horizon for Alexandria.

A series of tours planned for next month blend the eerie Halloween spirit and local history to look at how late 18th century and early 19th century residents processed death.

Every Friday in October, the Carlyle House (121 N Fairfax Street) is hosting tours of the building as it would have looked in mourning for “Death Comes to Carlyle House.”

“In September 1780, John Carlyle passed away and the family would have gone into mourning,” a newsletter from the Office of Historic Alexandria said. “Join us for an evening tour of the house to learn about death and mourning in the 18th century. Tours will be led through the house at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.”

Tickets are $12 per person.

Nearby, on Friday, Oct. 14, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (138 N Royal Street) is hosting a similar tour: “Death at the City Tavern.”

“In 1808, death visited Alexandria’s City Hotel when the curtain fell upon one of theatre’s ‘Brightest Ornaments,'” the newsletter said. “While a guest at the hotel, Anne Brunton Merry Wignell Warren, the most celebrated actress in the U.S., shockingly lost both her infant son and her own life at the young age of 39 in what is now known as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.”

The tour includes an exploration of phantasmagoria, a cocktail, macabre trivia competition and viewing of the 1910 silent film Frankenstein.

The tour is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person with a minimum age of 21.

Finally, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S Fairfax Street) is hosting a tour of the sinister side of medicine. A tour focused on poisons is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Tours are $15 per person or $12 for Office of Historic Alexandria members.

“Come explore the sinister side of medicine on the Apothecary Museum’s Poison Tour,” the newsletter said. “This tour explores several different types of poisons, their historic uses at the Apothecary, and what we know today. Recommended for ages 18 and up.”

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SoberRide flyer, courtesy Washington Regional Alcohol Program

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is bringing back its SoberRide program this weekend to offer a safe alternative to drinking and driving.

The Halloween SoberRide will be operational from 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, to 4 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31. During this time, any area resident 21 or older can use the SoberRide code in the “promo” section of the app and get a no-cost trip of up to $15 to get home. The code will be posted at 7 p.m. on the SoberRide website.

“Well over one-third (41%) of all U.S. traffic fatalities during Halloween from 2015 to 2019 involved drunk drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Kurt Erickson, WRAP’s President, in a press release.

The press release noted that the program is available in D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Arlinton, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties in Virginia. A representative of the company told ALXnow that it’s also available in Alexandria.

The program wasn’t running last year due to COVID-19, but in 2019 the release said 1,122 people in the D.C.-area used SoberRide. The program is also available on St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and the winter holidays.

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Morning Notes

The legend of the burning bride — “Autumn is not only the season for brisk weather, mahogany and burnt orange color combinations and pumpkin bread with apple cider – it’s also the time of year when Alexandria’s spookiest ghost tales emerge from the shadows to take center stage.” [Alexandria Times]

Alexandria couple creates new non-alcoholic wine — “Michelle and David Toothman found a way that you can have your wine and drink it too but without the negative side effects.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Prince Street goes all-out for Halloween — “Several homes near the intersection of Lee and Prince Street are completely decked out in spooky decor including dozens of skeletons of all sizes and types, including humans, dogs, horses and at least one cyclopes unicorn of some kind.” [WUSA]

City offers sandbags to combat flooding — “The City will provide free sandbags to residents and businesses… Friday, October 29, from 7 to 9 a.m. at 133 S. Quaker Lane. Sandbags will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of five sandbags per address.” [City of Alexandria]

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The Del Ray neighborhood was recently profiled on the latest episode of the PBS show If You Lived Here. This episode took a look at three homes in the neighborhood that may be attractive to buyers.

The show followed Jen Walker, a realtor and the unofficial “mayor of Del Ray” who moved to the neighborhood in 1997. Walker gave a tour to hosts John Begeny and Christine Louise and gave a brief history about the Del Ray neighborhood, harkening back to its blue-collar roots when many of the area’s residents worked at the Potomac Yard Railway station. Walker also described its recent evolution which has embraced mom-and-pop businesses as well as a love for dogs and children.

Other residents interviewed throughout the show mentioned earmarks of the neighborhood such as its annual Halloween parade, local restaurants, and a history of African-American-owned businesses such as the Tops of Old Town hat shop. The show also mentioned some of the area’s more colorful history with the old St. Asaph’s racetrack which was the epicenter of gambling not just in the local area but in Northern Virginia in general before its annexation to Alexandria in 1930.

The point of the show is housing and Walker described to the hosts the types of houses that potential house hunters were likely to see. Bungalows and duplexes that had originally been meant for the Potomac Yard workforce dot the neighborhood and are some of the more common houses in Del Ray according to the realtor.

Walker also gave the hosts a quick price range to work with before house hunting, the prices ranged from a one-bedroom apartment in a condo for $225 a month to a townhouse within the $600,000 to $700,000 range to own. Walker also mentioned single-family homes that range from $850 a month to over $2 million to own. These reflect the soaring prices for houses that have occurred over the last two and a half decades.

Walker took the hosts to three homes, a brownstone on Kennedy Street where they marveled at some of the décor and the use of space in the relatively small home, a bungalow on Raymond Avenue which the hosts remarked looked straight out of Better Homes And Gardens magazine, and an expanded bungalow on Randolph Avenue that caught the hosts attention with its embrace of modernity while keeping some of the home’s traditional architecture.

After touring the homes, the hosts would take a guess at their costs, Walker would then let them know if they were within the range.

If You Lived Here are currently in the middle of their second season and can be viewed on PBS’ WETA television affiliate or on their website PBS.org.

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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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Halloween is fast approaching and the time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating will be back in full swing.

Last year, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) had discouraged the practice for fear of spreading the coronavirus throughout the community. Many holiday traditions in Alexandria, such as the Del Ray Halloween Parade and the Lee Street Halloween Event, were canceled in favor of much smaller, more somber festivities.

While transmission is still at an elevated risk in the city, this year the department is encouraging that some precautions should be taken to ensure a safer Halloween. This way the little goblins and ghouls can run amok to get their tasty treats. 

Any activity with people from different households carries some risk,” said AHD Population Health Manager Natalie Talis, “but you can take common-sense measures to make your Halloween activities safer.”

Below are the recommended measures that the AHD are asking trick or treaters to take in order to have a safe time:

  • Anyone age 12 and older should get vaccinated. Book an appointment at alexandriava.gov/Vaccines
  • Wear a cloth or surgical mask when handing out candy or trick or treating
  • Consider pre-bagging candy so kids don’t have to dip into a bowl
  • Wash hands before eating candy or other treats
  • Choose outdoor parties rather than indoor gatherings
  • Avoid crowded settings and gatherings where you can’t maintain distance from others
  • Stay home and away from others if you’re not feeling well, even if you are fully vaccinated

For more information go to CDC.gov 

Happy Halloween!

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Morning Notes

Cortado Cafe opens in Alexandria’s West End — “A new coffee shop has opened in the Shoppes of Foxchase shopping center in Alexandria’s West End.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Council amends, renames Transportation Master Plan — “City Council approved an amendment to the Alexandria Transportation Master Plan during Saturday’s public hearing that aimed to expand the city’s focus on alternative modes of transit while addressing concerns such as congestion, accessibility and equity.” [Alexandria Times]

Voting starts for Del Ray Halloween contest — “Voting is now open for the People’s Choice Award for Del Ray’s Best Decorated Halloween House” [Visit Del Ray]

The Chamber ALX hosts business awards — “Tonight was epic! Best in Business 2021 did not disappoint with 200+ attendees and 14 restaurants.” [The Chamber ALX]

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