We’re coming up on an unusual Christmas at the end of 2020.

Thanksgiving gatherings resulted in an increase in coronavirus cases and — while Inova is holding steady with hospitalizations — there is a continued increase in COVID-19 cases in Alexandria.

Alexandria Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering urged locals not to travel for the holidays if they could avoid it.

“Traveling for celebrations is a hallmark of these holidays but is especially risky with the COVID-19 increases across the country,” Haering said. “If you can’t avoid traveling, know your travel risk and consider getting tested both before and after traveling, particularly if you are visiting or returning home to someone at high risk of severe illness. Keep in mind that the virus can take between 2-14 days to incubate. AHD recommends that you wait about 7-10 days after a gathering or travel to get tested.”

Even distanced, the CDC warned that gathering with friends or family who do not live with you can increase your chance of spreading COVID-19.

Are you risking that to gather with family or are you planning something smaller with the folks you live with. Sound off in the comments if you have other plans.

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Morning Notes

What’s Open and What’s Closed Over Holidays — “All City of Alexandria government offices will be closed on Thursday, December 24, and Friday, December 25, in observance of Christmas; and on Friday, January 1, 2021, in observance of New Year’s Day.” [Zebra]

City Releases Guide to Safely Celebrating Holidays — “This year, the best gift for friends and family is continued good health. With COVID-19 cases surging, it is more important than ever to stay home, wear a mask, maintain 6 feet of distance, and wash your hands frequently.” [City of Alexandria]

First Night Alexandria Themes Celebration ‘Night of Nostalgia’ — “Residents and visitors can load up their cars and celebrate the arrival of 2021 on Dec. 31 at 5001 Eisenhower Ave. in the West End of Alexandria with a drive-in concert experience of pre-recorded music and comedy projected on the big screen.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Ada’s On the River to Open Mid-January — “Ada’s on the River, the first restaurant concept at the Robinson Landing development in Alexandria, is slated to open in mid-January.” [Patch]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Christmas tree looking a little sparse? The Alexandria Commons Shopping Center at 3233 Duke Street is hosting a pop-up on Saturday (Dec. 19) that will include a free ornament decorating kit.

“Celebrate the holidays by decorating your own holiday ornament!” the center said on its Facebook page.

The pop-up is scheduled to run from noon to 2 p.m.

“Your kit will include all supplies needed to decorate your ornament, fun holiday giveaways and a few surprises from Alexandria Commons Shopping Center merchants,” the shopping center said. “Once your ornament is complete share with your family and friends via Facebook to be entered into our contest to win a $50 gift card to an Alexandria Commons Shopping Center merchant of your choice.”

There will be 300 kits available given away one per person on a first come, first serve basis. The center noted on the event page that social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions will be enforced.

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Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Annie Lennox… It’s been sounding a lot like Christmas inside Crooked Beat Records for the last month. Even though the record shop missed a few beats when it closed in April and May, sales have increased due to a new generation of hobbyists.

The hobbyists have turned sales back on the right track, according to Crooked Beats’ Paloma Alcala.

“Many people are looking for hobbies that they can do by themselves that they don’t need to do in a group,” Alcala told ALXnow. “Lots of people have taken up record collecting.”

The shop moved to 802 N. Fairfax Street from D.C. four years ago, and features thousands of records from nearly every genre. Due to COVID-19, the shop is currently letting in five customers at a time.

“We’ve got the classics,” Alcala said. “All kinds of things. We’ve got Canadian Christmas music, we’ve got compilations that span all kinds of genres. You want some Rockabilly Christmas music? We got that. Christmas R&B? Punk rock Christmas music? We have that.”

Most records sell for less than $50. Some of the higher priced items include a 13-disc expanded edition of Prince’s Sign O’ The Times ($289) and early pressings of 50-year-old albums by Jimi Hendrix and The Doors that are still sealed ($200 apiece).

The shop also sells Audio Technica 120 turntables ($289), and only buys used record collections from the public in good condition.

What’s the appeal of records? Alcala said she is frequently asked that question at the shop.

“In an era of streaming music, you can pretty much listen to anything that’s been put up on the internet, whenever and wherever you want,” she said. “There’s something really wonderful about that, too. But there’s something more satisfying and more active and purposeful about taking a record out of its sleeve, putting it on a player and dropping the needle. It puts you in a different mindset, and you’re able to enjoy the music on a much more personal level, and building a collection helps you curate the music that means the most to you.”

Crooked Beat Records is open Monday from 1 to 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday from noon to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6:30 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5:30 p.m. The shop is closed every Tuesday.

Photo via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook

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Alexandria is famous for celebrating the holiday season, and there are still a couple of in-person and virtual performances to help get into the spirit of things.

Tickets are still available for the Little Theatre of Alexandria‘s in-person rendition of A Christmas Carol, which runs until Dec. 19. The theatre has limited capacity to 46 guests, and seating is spaced out so that only up to groups of three people from the same group can watch the show together.

A Christmas Carol is being performed by just five actors, as opposed to the annual sold-out production with dozens of actors. It has been adapted for the times and directed by Emmy-winning journalist and actor Michael J Baker, Jr., who also stars as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Tickets cost $20 apiece and the remaining performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Dec. 16, 17, 18 and 19.

On Dec. 26 and 27, more than 90 students from the Metropolitan School of the Arts will perform six separate virtual renditions of The Nutcracker ballet at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Each show will be performed by three casts at the school.

“We knew performing the Nutcracker this year was going to be a challenge, but we also wanted the show to go on,” said Jacqueline Doherty, the show’s artistic director. “We’re so proud of the students’ commitment and passion to make this ballet come to life, despite the COVID restrictions. They were dedicated to making this show happen.”

The shows will broadcast on the Metropolitan School of the Arts’ YouTube channel, and tickets range from $40-$80.

Photos via LTA and Metropolitan School of the Arts

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While holiday festivities like the Scottish Christmas Parade are being cancelled around town due to coronavirus concerns, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is still planning to go forward with the organization’s 10th annual Alexandria Holiday Lights Ride and Walk.

The annual ride takes cyclists and pedestrians on a tour of the best of Del Ray’s lights. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, from 5:30-7 p.m.

“The residents of lovely Del Ray put on a great holiday light show every year, and we plan to see it on bike or on foot!” BPAC said in an event listing. “Please register on Eventbrite if you’re joining us.”

The tour will start at the south end of Main Line Blvd near the Potomac Yard trail. The route is around five miles through flat neighborhood streets.

“Small, socially-distanced groups of people biking will leave at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30 p.m. each evening,” BPAC said. “Small, socially-distanced groups of people walking will leave at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. each evening.”

All ages and abilities are welcome, the group said, but children under 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Participants over five must also have a face covering. For those biking, helmets and lights are required, with “bonus points” for decorating bikes with holiday lights.

Groups will be broken into no more than 10 people and participants should register in advance for a time slot.

Photo via BPAC/Facebook

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This weekend, the Old Town Business Association is planning to install a holiday update to Alexandria’s street lamps.

“Starting today, the art is being installed on the selected lamp posts in Old Town,” the Old Town Business Association said in a press release. “The arts are alive in Old Town this holiday season with the debut of its first-holiday art walk.”

Several lamp posts in Old Town will feature new art from 25 artists from The Art League. The majority of the art will be located along the 100-1800 blocks of King Street, with a few on select side streets.

“Old Town Business collaborated with 25 artists from The Art League to create holiday-themed lamp post art pieces along King Street and select side streets,” the Old Town Business Association said. “A map of the artwork will be created so folks can stroll the art walk at their own leisure.”

Photo courtesy Old Town Business Association

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A new local dog-themed bar and restaurant wants to help you and your pooch get in the spirit of Christmas.

Brewski’s Barkhaus, a restaurant near Potomac Yard that features an off-leash dog-park, opened in October and is planning to host an Ugly Sweater Party to celebrate the holidays.

The party is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, from 3-6 p.m. at 529 E. Howell Avenue.

Prizes will be awarded for the worst dressed and guests will be able to enjoy specials. The restaurant said on an event listing that reservations are recommended but not required, and COVID guidelines and restrictions will be in effect.

“Tis the season… to deck the paws,” Barkhaus said. “Come support your favorite dog bar at our first ever Ugly Sweater Party!”

Photo via Barkhaus/Facebook

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Alexandria Living Legend Lillian Patterson, a fourth-generation Alexandrian and former curator of the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM), is planning to host an annual workshop with the museum this weekend to discuss the holiday Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a holiday with roots in America’s Black community celebrated from Saturday, Dec. 26 to Friday, Jan. 1. The holiday incorporates several traditional African festivities and celebrates principals like unity and collective work and responsibility.

The ABHM is planning a virtual how-to workshop at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

“Learn how to do your own celebration as former ABHM curator, Lillian S. Patterson, and ABHM volunteers Cathy Riddick-Brown, and Linda Haughton, show you the origins, concepts, and practices of Kwanzaa,” the museum said in a press release. “You will hear about principals, symbols, fun activities, and more that will enchant you all year long.”

The day will also include a reading of the Kwanzaa story Seven Spools of Thread.

“Participants must register in advance for the free Kwanzaa How-to Workshop,” the museum said. “After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. This will automate the receipt of the Zoom link and a reminder an hour before the event begins. For more information contact 703.746.4356.”

Photo via soulchristmas/flickr

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With parades, festivals and even the Christmas tree lighting in Old Town all impacted by COVID-19, the holiday season will be dramatically different for Alexandria business owners.

Bearing that in mind, Visit Alexandria just announced Alexandria Shop Small Week, a new virtual promotional series from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6 with deals and giveaways to help make up for losses to this year’s post-Thanksgiving period of holiday shopping.

The series begins with Plaid Friday: Alexandria’s Small Business Black Friday on Nov. 27.

“Nearly 50 independent shops are touting one-of-a-kind deals on designer and coveted merchandise, including home décor, chic fashion, gourmet food, classic toys and gifts for pets,” according to Visit Alexandria. “Check out Black-owned Alexandria businesses during the nationwide ‘Buy Black Friday’ initiative every Friday from October 30 to November 27, 2020.”

According to Visit Alexandria:

Members of the Old Town Business Association and Old Town Boutique District are celebrating Plaid Friday with two unique offerings. Snag a free plaid mask made by local designer DMARAN when you spend $100 or more at participating Old Town stores, plus enjoy gift-wrapping at select stores. Don your favorite tartan as part of this year’s Virtual Plaid Patrol and snap a pic to post to Instagram, tagging @otboutiques, @alhstayle and @tsgalexandria and use #PlaidPatrol. You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card to an Old Town Boutique District business of your choice. Two winners will be selected.

Nearly 50 independent shops, many opening early, offer some of their best deals of the year.

  • Small Business Saturday – November 28
    Enjoy free parking, prizes from the Elf Patrol and nearly 50 independent boutiques featuring discounts or gifts with purchase.
  • Museum Store Sunday – November 29
    Enjoy discounts of 20% at participating Alexandria museum stores plus 20% off Black history merchandise from Manumission Tour Company’s online store.
  • Cyber Monday – November 30
    Promotional online offers from more than 30 Alexandria boutiques include discounts, gifts with purchase and free shipping.
  • Giving Tuesday – December 1
  • Instagram Gift Card Giveaways – December 4-6
    Follow @VisitAlexVA for three days of giveaways and your chance to win one of three $300 gift cards to a choice of local boutiques.
  • Alexandria Santagram Giveaway  Extends through Shop Small Week, November 9-December 20
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