Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Defense Weak During Senate Impeachment Hearing — “The House Managers established that Trump lied about the election, inspired the attackers to come to DC, directed them to the Capitol, and did nothing for hours to stop their violent attack. Senate Republicans objected, strenuously, to details of a phone call. And nothing else.” [Twitter]

CVS Starts Offering COVID-19 Vaccines in Alexandria and Fairfax County — “People interested in a vaccine are allowed to register through both the city or county health departments and through CVS at the same time, but local health department officials are pleading with people who get their vaccine through CVS to remove themselves from the health department waiting lists so others can get vaccinated faster.” [Alexandria Living]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution Canceled — “The ALIVE! Trunk to Trunk Food Distribution scheduled for February 13 has been CANCELED due to forecasted weather conditions and the safety of residents, staff and volunteers. Instead, the distribution events will take place on February 20 at the same locations and times.” [Twitter]

Stracci Pizza Truck Brings Roman-Style Pizza to Del Ray — “Thomas Cardarelli, chef and owner of Stracci Pizza, (pronounced stráh-chee) always wanted to start something of his own — a high-tech, casual pizzeria. Then, the pandemic hit. His friend asked: ‘Why not get a food truck?'” [Alexandria Living]

Travel + Leisure Profiles Manumission Tour Company — “Explore different stories in Alexandria Virginia’s history of slaves who ran away to freedom using the underground railroad. Join us as we walk around Alexandria Virginia with John Chapman from Manumission Tours and explore some of these historical moments.” [Youtube]

Casa Chirilagua Revamps Food Pantry — “Casa Chirilagua brings access to non-perishable food items and cleaning products to the community through our pantry. With new shelving and reorganization, we can now hold hundreds of pounds of food and cleaning products. So far we’ve distributed 2,241 grocery bags of pantry items, valued at over $196,000. This could not be possible without your support!” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy with a mixture of rain and snow in the morning. Temps nearly steady in the mid to upper 30s. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precip 70%… Cloudy (in the evening). Low 26F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Real Estate Photographer — “Shoot anywhere from 2 to 4 properties per day.Deliver consistently excellent images up to company standards.Upload raw images to development services. Additional opportunities and pay are available for shooting night photography and weekends.” [Indeed]

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It might take years for Alexandria’s economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic, but there are plenty of developments down the road.

Micro weddings, new businesses and tourism expectations this year were just a few of the topics covered by Visit Alexandria in its annual membership meeting last week. While offset by positive news of business developments along the waterfront, the meeting was full of sobering statistics on drastically reduced revenues in nearly all sectors of the local economy.

“This turn of a new year, and especially the launch of the vaccine process provides new reasons to be hopeful,” said Visit Alexandria CEO Patricia Washington.They (vaccines) recharge our batteries for the important work ahead.”

Alexandria is a popular spot for weddings, but the pandemic has forced Visit Alexandria to embrace the micro wedding trend.

“While some couples have decided to postpone our wedding, others are embracing the opportunity to have an intimate ultra romantic day,” said Claire Mouledoux, Visit Alexandria’s vice president of communications. “Alexandria is full of fantastic spots which we are promoting… like secret gardens, like the ones you see here at Carlyle House and Rectory on Princess Street… and the steps of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.”

Vito Fiore, Visit Alexandria’s vice president of marketing and research, said that Alexandria’s hotels took a 72% loss in revenue per available room for the last six months of 2020. He said that while only 5% of the U.S. population plan to travel this month, 60% have a high degree of excitement about traveling later in the year, according to a study by Destination Analysts.

“The Deloitte Industry Outlook said that six-to-10 retail executives expect recovery in the next one to two years, but a quarter see a longer timeline of two to five years,” Fiore said.

While the recovery from the pandemic might take years, Mouledoux said that there are more than 30 restaurants that recently opened and are in development this year, including Ada’s On The River, Vía Volcán Coffee and Emmy Squared Pizza.

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The Virginia Tourism Bureau is going all-in on exploiting one Alexandria scene in the fairly mediocre new Wonder Woman movie.

A new display will feature a “Virginia is for Lovers” drum prop featured for a split second during one action sequence when a goon gets thrown through it.

“The recently-released Warner Bros. film Wonder Woman 1984, which shot for several weeks in Alexandria, VA in the spring and summer of 2018, features a special product placement with Virginia Tourism’s iconic Virginia is for Lovers brand featured on a large-scale prop,” the Virginia Tourism Bureau said in a press release. “The prop will be on display in Old Town Alexandria January 7 to February 28, 2021 and will be accompanied by more film-inspired experiences.”

The film was released in some theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas.

“Having a colossal film like Wonder Woman 1984 shoot in the Commonwealth was a huge financial win — the project had a total economic impact of over $45 million during their relatively brief time on the ground,” said Virginia Film Office director Andy Edmunds in a press release. “Having millions of audience members now see the iconic Virginia is for Lovers logo up on both the large and small screens provides immeasurable brand visibility that will have a positive effect for years to come.”

Several self-guided Wonder Woman themed tours are scheduled to launch in early January, along with deals at some Alexandria businesses from cocktails to tattoos.

“Alexandria really came together to support the filming of Wonder Woman 1984 with coordination from the Alexandria Film Office, which is operated by Visit Alexandria, plus incredible support from the City of Alexandria and dozens of City departments and public safety officials,” Visit Alexandria president and CEO Patricia Washington said in the press release. “We’re thrilled Warner Bros. chose Alexandria for the filming of Wonder Woman 1984 and are excited to host a display of the drum prop as we present additional film-inspired experiences.”

Other local businesses with Wonder Woman themed discounts, according to the press release, include:

  • Wonder Woman Wednesdays from Port City Brewing Co. in January 2021 with any two six-packs or a variety 12-pack available for $19.84 with pre-order for curbside pickup at the brewery.
  • Original permanent and temporary tattoo designs inspired by Wonder Woman 1984 from the artists of inq Tattoos Old Town, a woman-and-veteran-owned tattoo boutique. Available with 5% off these services in January and February 2021; masks and appointments required.
  • WW84 themed 3-flavor popcorn package from America’s Favorite Gourmet Popcorn for $19.84 featuring a red, white and blue edition of K-Street Kettle Korn plus Capital Caramel popcorn and America’s Favorite popcorn. Available January 7 through February 28, 2021; can be purchased online for shipping or pickup at the Alexandria store or purchased in-person at the Alexandria store and assembled while you wait.
  • “Truth Teller” donut from Elizabeth’s Counter, inspired by always-honest Wonder Woman and her Lasso of Truth. A vanilla glazed donut is sprinkled with a marvelous a blend of red, white, blue and gold and silver stars. Available January 7 through February 28, 2021; order online for curbside pickup or pre-ordering; limited quantity available in-store.
  • “A Deal is a Promise” cocktail from Captain Gregory’s, inspired by Diana’s iconic line in the 2017 Wonder Woman film. The cocktail features persimmon-infused pisco, Strega, Cynar and persimmon bitters. Available January 7 through February 28, 2021; offered on site at Captain Gregory’s with outdoor seating available or to-go from sister restaurant Elizabeth’s Counter with food purchase.
  • “The Invisible Plane” cocktail at Vola’s Dockside Grill and the Hi-Tide Lounge, inspired by Diana’s invisible jet from the original DC Comics, which has been teased in the Wonder Woman 1984 trailer. The cocktail is crafted with Sauza Hornitos tequila, raspberry, ginger and fresh lime juice, rimmed with raw sugar and topped with an invisible plane. Available on site only January 7 to February 28, 2021; heated outdoor seating is available.

Image via Warner Brothers

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With the approach of the yuletide season, the Lee-Fendall House (614 Oronoco Street) in Alexandria has decked out the home in full 19th century regalia for candlelight tours.

“Celebrate the holiday season with evening candlelight tours of the Lee-Fendall House decked out in Victorian splendor,” the Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden said on Facebook. “Our antique toy exhibit will also be on view.”

The home was originally built in 1785 on land purchased by Major General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee.

The tours are offered every half hour starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. The museum warned that space is limited and reservations will be required. Face masks and social distancing will also be required for tours.

Tickets for the holiday tours are $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-13.

Photo via Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden

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Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Trump Most Corrupt President in History — “Congress has worked to stop their misconduct; I requested some of these Hatch Act investigations myself. But this administration’s abuses are so widespread that it’s hard to keep track of it all (hence this thread). Trump is the most openly corrupt President in history.” [Twitter]

Are You Eligible for the Grocery Store Gift Card Program? — “Individuals and families whose household incomes have been impacted by the pandemic may be eligible to receive grocery store gift cards in amounts ranging from $100-$400.” [Twitter]

African American Change-Makers Highlighted in New Alexandria Tours — “Alexandria is offering new tours, markers and more to lead residents and visitors through sites and stories highlighting African American change-makers that have shaped the history of Alexandria and the United States.” [Alexandria Living]

Former Delegate and Lawyer Bernie Cohen Dies — “Cohen, along with co-counsel Philip Hirschkop, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1967 that bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional in the famous case ‘Loving v. Virginia.’ Two months later, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Mildred and Richard Loving, striking down laws in 15 states that banned interracial marriage.” [Alex Times]

VeloCity Bike Co-op Celebrates 10th Anniversary —  “John Patterson and Christian Myers co-founded the community-based, volunteer-run bicycle shop in May 2010. The co-op is known for its community services including its Bicycle Scholarship Program, which helps low-income families obtain bicycles, and its “do it yourself” operations.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather— “Mostly cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Areas of patchy fog. High 76F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Mostly clear skies (in the evening). Low around 60F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Case Manager — “We are looking for a Case Manager to join our team working at a COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Shelter Site at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites! This is a a temporary position with the end date to be determined. The individual will work with clients who are quarantined or have the virus, though there will not be a lot of in person contact. This person will also spend some time at our shelter near Pentagon City Mall!” [Indeed]

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Alexandria will release a draft action plan for revitalizing the Torpedo Factory Art Center today (October 16), and the proposal on the table includes a front entrance on the waterfront and a more interactive experience for families.

The city took over operations of the Torpedo Factory in 2016, and the art center traditionally sees more than a half a million visitors every year. But Diane Ruggiero, the city’s deputy director for recreation, parks and cultural activities, says that it doesn’t have a family-friendly atmosphere.

“A lot of the focus of the plan is about activating the first floor, kind of changing that initial experience that people have when they come into the art center,” Ruggiero told ALXnow. “We do know that folks want a more engaging and interactive experience from an arts perspective.”

There are more than 80 studios in the building, and artist studios take up 70% of the building. The largest tenant, The Art League school, art supply store, gallery and offices takes up 12% of occupancy. Its next largest occupant is The Alexandria Archeology Museum.

“I think the liveliness of the Art Center has always been something that has come back as a criticism of the Art Center, even pre-COVID,” Ruggiero said. “Some of the feedback that we had from the community is that there’s not a lot going on there that’s family friendly.”

The draft plan was developed by two consultants and Ruggiero says it will be on the city’s website later today.

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The 2020 holiday season is before us, but the Alexandria Health Department is advising residents to stay home.

For thousands of residents, the annual fall and winter celebrations are heartwarming chances for friends and family to reconnect, however this year has been all about limited gatherings.

“The safest way to enjoy the holidays while COVID-19 remains in the community is to find ways to celebrate at home,” the city said in a release.

Last year, an estimated 1.34 million travelers in the D.C. area traveled 50 miles or more from their homes for the Thanksgiving holiday.

For unavoidable get togethers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Participating in outdoor activities, which are are safer than indoor activities
  • Checking with the event hostabout any COVID-19 safety guidelines
  • Bringing extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer and tissues
  • Avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering

What do you think? Are you planning on traveling this holiday season?

Feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments section.

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Even after an unforgettable year stricken by a pandemic, Alexandria has been named one of the best small cities in the United States.

Alexandria took the fifth spot in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 33rd annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The city placed third last year and fourth the year before that.

Here’s the top five small cities in the U.S. this year, according to the magazine:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina
  2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  3. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
  4. Laguna Beach, California
  5. Alexandria, Virginia

According to Condé Nast:

Washingtonians are all in on the secret, but it’s no surprise the rest of the world is catching up: Alexandria, Virginia, the charming, historic city just across the Potomac River from our nation’s capital, draws travelers and would-be residents alike. Most folks start to imagine moving there just after setting foot in Old Town, once they’ve strolled the red brick sidewalks, clocking street after street of perfectly preserved rowhouses from the 18th and 19th centuries. When you visit, scope out King Street, packed with boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops; then land at the waterfront, where you can watch the boats bobbing on the water before touring the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a collective of galleries and artists’ studios. End the day at Gadsby’s Tavern, where some of our founding fathers used to drink–don’t mind the actors in colonial garb.

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Alexandria’s tourism bureau is participating in a COVID Relief Food Drive starting today and ending on October 15.

Visit Alexandria says that the food will benefit individuals in the hospitality industry who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Drop-off donations can be made at the Alexandria Visitor Center from October 1-11, and drive-by donations can be made at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Alexandria Old Town (1900 Diagonal Road) from October 12-13.

The following food is acceptable:

  • Canned meat
  • Canned soups
  • Shelf stable and powdered milk
  • Cereal, granola bars and grains
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Cooking oils
  • Peanut butter
  • Pet food
  • Rice

The food drive is being organized by the Washington Area Convention Bureau Satellite Offices (CVBReps), a membership-based destination marketing organization with 60 members around the country.

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If you’re staying in tonight, Visit Alexandria has launched a new virtual tour and experiences page.

Tourism has taken a substantial hit during the pandemic, and the effort allows visitors to virtually stroll down King Street, take a virtual ghost tour and get in a yoga workout.

“Visit Alexandria is bringing our city experience to you,” the tourism bureau said on its website. “While we wish you were here, we know these virtual experiences will make you and your attendees feel Alexandria’s small town charm from home.”

The virtual tours allow visitors to look into a number of hotels, including the Morrison House and the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center.

Visit Alexandria also offers ALX At Home allowing visitors to “experience Alexandria’s restaurants, shops and attractions from the comfort of your own home.”

The initiative is not part of Visit Alexandria 360, which launched in 2017 and showcases 360-degree tours of 20 locations around the city.

Incidentally, in-person ghost tours are back starting in October.

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