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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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Morning Notes

New gift shop in Old Town helps people with disabilities — “B.E.S.T stands for ‘Building Employment Solutions Together’ and is a collaboration between the Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund  (JPMF) and ServiceSource to provide meaningful employment for people with disabilities.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria wins housing policy leadership awards — “Affordable and workforce housing policies and programs put in place by the governments of Alexandria, Virginia, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, have been selected as joint winners of the 2021 Urban Land Institute Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Awards.” [Urbanland]

Best Pumpkin patches around Alexandria-area — “Cooler fall days are quickly approaching in the Greater Alexandria area, which means it’s time to start planning your family’s yearly trek to the country to find the best pumpkins.” [Patch]

School Board forum tonight — “PTAC will host a virtual School Board Candidate Forum at 7:00 PM on October 13, 2021. Come hear from each of the school board candidates.” [PTAC]

D1 Training opens new Alexandria location — “D1 Training, a sports training franchise for all ages, finally opened its Alexandria doors. On October 11, at 6550 Little River Turnpike, children and parents and divas and mascots reveled in the grand reveal.” [Zebra]

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We’re nearing the end of the first full week of October, and around the city, various homes and local businesses are starting to get into the spooky mood.

Visit Alexandria has put together a roundup of Halloween-themed activities around town. While the pandemic is still ongoing, there’s been progress since last October when some iconic Alexandria Halloween events (like Lee Street trick-or-treating) were shut down.

After you vote, be sure to share what costume you’re putting together — if any — in the comments.

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It’s Friday, Oct. 1, or more importantly: the start of Halloween month.

While locals start the scramble to put together their spooky decorations and costumes, Visit Alexandria has put together a rundown for ghostly activities and family friendly haunts around town. Events range from parades to plays, from the streets of Del Ray to the depths of Ivy Hill cemetery.

The big event of the season is the Del Ray Halloween Parade, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. The parade runs along Mount Vernon Avenue to the Mount Vernon Recreation Center (2701 Commonwealth Avenue). Children, pets and strollers are invited to march in the parade in costume, with awards given for best pet costumes, best decorated businesses, best decorated home and best decorated stroller.

Several trick or treating events are also planned around town, including:

There are several festive events around town included in the Visit Alexandria rundown as well.

  • Raven’s Night at the Birchmere: Saturday, Oct. 16, starting at 7:30 p.m at The Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Avenue). The Birchmere’s Raven’s Night event is coming back for its 10th year, with a mix of belly dancing, live music, and a pre-show carnival. This year’s theme is “Coven” with a witchcraft and wizardry theme. Tickets are $45 per person.
  • “Wait Until Dark” at The Little Theatre of Alexandria: Wednesdays, starting Oct. 16 through Nov. 6, at 8 p.m. at The Little Theater of Alexandria (600 Wolfe Street). The Little Theatre is hosting a production of “Wait Until Dark”, a play about a blind woman alone in her apartment facing off against a crew of con men. Tickets are $21-$24 per person, and all patrons are required to wear a mask through the show.
  • Halloween Ball and Anniversary Celebration at Barkhaus: Thursday, Oct. 21, from 7:30-10 p.m. at Barkhaus (529 E. Howell Avenue). Barkhaus is hosting an appropriately dog-focused Halloween event, with guests asked to dress formally with “Halloween twists” on their costumes. Dogs are encouraged to dress up as well. Tickets are $75.
  • Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe: Thursday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 30, from 7-8 p.m. at Ivy Hill Cemetery (2823 King Street). The Guillotine Theatre’s “Poe Outside the Vault” program returns, with actors reading through works by poet Edgar Allan Poe. Seating is limited and guests can RSVP at [email protected] Tickets are $20.
  • Boos & Booze at Cafe 44: Friday, Oct. 29 to Sunday, Oct. 31 at Cafe 44 (44 Canal Center Plaza). The cafe will be running a selection of craft cocktails. Costumes and reservations are encouraged.
  • Fall Frolic: Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m at the Lee-Fendall House (614 Oronoco Street). The Lee-Fendall House is hosting a seasonal event in the garden, with activities aimed at children ages 3-12. Tickets are $15 per person.
  • Nightmare at Barkhaus: Saturday, Oct. 30, from 5-8 p.m. at Barkhaus (529 E. Howell Avenue). Barkhaus is also hosting an annual costume contest for dogs, with food and drink specials along with a dog runway. Admission is free.

There are at least two ghost tours available in Alexandria. The Ghost & Graveyard Tour starts today (Monday) at 7:30 p.m. and runs nightly through Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays there are additional tours at 8:30 and 9 p.m. The tour follows an 18th-century costumed guide through Old Town, telling ghost stories and local folklore along the way. The tour is for ages nine and up, with no pets allowed. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, military and law enforcement, and $10 for children. Tours start at the Alexandria Visitor Center (221 King Street).

The Lee-Fendall House also offers a Grief & Ghost Tour on Friday, Oct. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 23 and Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 30. Tours start at 7, 7:30, 8:30 and 9 p.m. The tour looks at Victorian mourning traditions, along with stories of tragic deaths and mystery at the Lee-Fendall House. Mourning rituals like covering mirrors and seances are explained. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance.

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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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