It’s a beautiful spring morning in Alexandria!
Today’s weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 72 degrees during the day, and cloudy with a low of 56 degrees tonight.
🚨 You need to know
Alexandria has been named one of the best places to visit, Patch first reported.
Money Magazine listed the city as a top destination, and called the city a “lux jumping-off point for D.C.-area visits.“
According to Money Magazine:
Along the King Street Mile in Old Town, you’ll find charming cobblestone streets lined with lanterns, outdoor cafes, Instagram-worthy murals and trendy bars. There’s also a vibrant art community — explore the many galleries or peek in at artists at work at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Other local coverage
- Custodian ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Alexandria Schools For 42 Years
Patch (Friday at 12;57 p.m.)
- PHOTOS: 180 Alexandria Schoolkids Play to Sell-Out Crowd in Annual ‘Night of Stars’ Talent Show
Zebra (Monday @ 10 a.m.)
- The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar is coming to Alexandria VA this Summer
Zebra (Sunday at 2 p.m.)
- Foody Newz To Look Forward to In Alexandria This April 2023
Zebra (Monday @ 8 a.m.)
- Del Ray Farmers’ Market Announces Monthly Kids’ Club
Zebra (Monday at 8 a.m.)
Tweets of note
#Spring is in full bloom and so are the cherry blossoms. Now until April 16 enjoy a direct water taxi from Old Town to The Wharf development in Washington D.C. to see the blossoms in all their glory. Learn more from @AlexandriaVA: https://t.co/Xpk5SeJ5Du #ALXVActivities pic.twitter.com/L0JVFvabEQ
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) April 2, 2023
On this date in 1928, Alexandria legend Earl Lloyd was born. He is best remembered for breaking the NBA color barrier. We remember and honor Lloyd's legacy every day, but especially on his birthday. #ACPSBlackHistory #ACPSLegends pic.twitter.com/dFCTKJkee3
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) April 3, 2023
A magical apothecary tour will materialize in Old Town next week, just in time for the holidays.
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax Street) is hosting the annual event on Friday, Dec. 16, and fans of J.K. Rowling’s books can learn about her inspirations in the muggle field of botanical science. Visitors will learn about fumigating pastiles, sweet marjoram and cuttle fish bone, among others.
The tour explores the apothecary and “the historic muggle medicines that inspired the Herbology and Potions of Harry’s wizarding world,” according to the City.”
The event sells out quickly and is recommended for adults and kids eight years old and up. It will be held on Friday, Dec. 16, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 per person, or $10 for Office of Historic Alexandria members.
There are a number of ways to volunteer in Alexandria this fall.
Sports enthusiasts can become volunteer sport coaches, and history lovers can become volunteer tour guides.
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.”
Pandemic? Alexandria just broke the all-time record for consumption-based tax revenue with $76 million for fiscal year 2022, according to the city’s tourism bureau.
At its annual meeting this week, Visit Alexandria reported that its expanded marketing efforts — with support from the Alexandria’s American Rescue Plan funding — allowed the city to capitalize on pent-up travel demand.
“The increased investment appears to have paid off, as the City set a new record of $76 million in consumption tax revenues,” Visit Alexandria said in a release. “Alexandria relies on consumption tax revenues to support core City services and minimize the tax rate for residents… With an estimated 71% of these revenues coming from non-residents, based on analysis of credit card data, visitors saved the average Alexandria household over $750 per year in taxes.”
It helps that Alexandria was recently listed by Conde’ Nast as one of the best small cities in the country for the fifth year in a row.
The $76 million in sales, lodging and travel receipts is a rebound from $59 million in 2021, and surpasses the previous record of $66 million set in 2019. In its annual report, the organization reported making important strides in Alexandria’s economic recovery. Retail and restaurant sales continue to lead in the recovery, as hotel revenues still lag behind pre-pandemic levels.
“Fiscal Year 2022 continued to test us with a series of challenges including labor shortages, inflation, higher gas prices and several Covid variants,” Visit Alexandria said in its annual report. “It would have been easy to hunker down and ‘wait out’ this period, but that is not Alexandria.”
The pandemic offered a “window of evolution for both businesses and consumers to become stronger and more resilient,” Visit Alexandria said.
Last year, the organization expanded advertising by 31%, launched a new mobile-first website, and created a new campaign to reach audiences of color.
“I’m grateful for the leadership of our tourism and hospitality sector and the partnership with Visit Alexandria as together we work to continue our city’s economic recovery,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a release. “There is still work to be done, and we know other destinations are upping their game, so we cannot let up.”
Visit Alexandria’s new campaign
This week, the tourism bureau launch its “Expand Your ALX” campaign. The effort will feature Alexandria’s West End, Del Ray, Arlandria and Carlyle neighborhoods.
“Expand Your ALX is an exciting invitation to not only explore our physical neighborhoods but also to expand your understanding and experience of the diverse cultures, people and history in our city,” said Patricia Washington, President & CEO of Visit Alexandria. “With this new campaign, we are excited to step up the impact of visitor spending across Alexandria.”
The pandemic was hard on the businesses that welcome visitors to our City, but we are coming back!
At yesterday’s @AlexandriaVA Annual Meeting, we celebrated a new record $76M in consumption tax revenues and launched the new “Expand Your ALX” campaign!https://t.co/3ZYC2izqZb
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) October 4, 2022
For the fifth straight year, Alexandria was named in the top five best small cities in the country in the 2022 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
Alexandria took home the fourth spot this year after placing third the last two years in a row.
- Aspen, Colorado
- Alexandria, Virginia
- Savannah, Georgia
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Key West, Florida
- Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
- Palm Beach, Florida
- Wilmington, North Carolina
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 immediately 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.
A new report, prepared for a City Council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), looks back at the progress made on several priorities adopted earlier this year, from pandemic recovery to housing.
The mulit-part update tackles a dozen community-welfare topics identified as a priority early in 2022, with each of those broken down into a look at progress on individual initiatives. While some have been fully completed, others are still in their early stages.
Each item in the report has a percentage completed next to it. For pandemic recovery, the two items listed as fully complete involve creating out to more Spanish language and Black communities for tourism and investing more heavily in tourism overall.
For the first of those initiatives, the report said Alexandria plans to continue diversifying it’s tourism efforts over the next few years.
“The supplementary media buy to stimulate recovery was fully implemented,” the report said. “We invested $410,000 in new digital advertising to increase overall awareness, expand to more diverse audiences and sustain new regional market share garnered during the pandemic. We also developed new advertising creative with the ‘Drop In’ campaign to welcome audiences of color. We also expect this new creative to support our expanded marketing efforts in the next several years.”
Another nearly completed area in the pandemic recovery section emphasized working with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) to expand mental health resources in schools.
The report said mental health professionals have been added to schools and the city worked with ACPS this summer on refining the referral process, mental health trends and more.
Other initiatives, particularly aspects focusing on small business recovery, are still in the nascent stages.
Progress was a little more behind in the housing section, where one of the listed goals was “provide diverse housing options at a variety of price points to support a thriving and inclusive Alexandria.”
The report listed the accessory dwelling unit and bonus height ordinance changes earlier this year as positive steps forward. Other parts of that work are still in progress. One of the big items is a Housing Master Plan update scheduled for FY 2024 that city staff is already starting prep work for. In the shorter term, an update on affordable housing funding is expected to come before the City Council later this fall.
The full report is available on the city website and is docketed for discussion at the meeting tomorrow.
Two walking tours around Old Town this month will offer a look at some unique historical sites and local architecture.
Both events, featured in a newsletter from the Office of Historic Alexandria, start at the Carlyle House Historic Park (121 N Fairfax Street).
The first, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, will look at the evolution of architectural styles in Old Town.
“Alexandria has grown from a small town in the 18th century to a bustling small city in the 21st century,” the newsletter said. “Join us for a tour of Alexandria as we explore looking at the various Architecture styles that adorn the city streets and make it one of the best places to live and work.”
Tours are $20 per person with prior reservations required. It’s an hour-and-a-half tour held in either rain or shine, so guests are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes.
The second walking tour focuses on the “legacy of the Green cabinetmakers.”
The tour starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 and, like the architecture tour, tickets are $20 per person with prior registration required.
“In the early 19th Century, William Green started the Green Furniture factory in Alexandria and by 1823 his son, James, would take over,” the newsletter said. “James expanded his father’s factory and established himself as a prominent Alexandrian through building and operating Green’s Mansion House Hotel. Join us on a tour to learn about James Green and his family’s life here in Alexandria.”
After being shut down the last few years due to COVID-19, the Historic Alexandria Homes Tour is returning to Old Town next month.
Tickets for the 80th annual tour cost $40, which will be held on Saturday, September 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go to the INOVA Alexandria Hospital.
“We are thrilled to be offering the 80th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour this year,” said Michele Cumberland, president of The Twig, which is sponsoring the event. “The annual tour is typically our largest annual fundraising event and enables us to raise vital funds for our community hospital.”
The tour will include seven homes in Old Town, including a “home featured in Southern Living magazine, a home with a 75-year-old fig tree and a home with a guest room surrounded in an ‘Alexandria-centric’, hand-painted mural,” according to The Twig.
The event will be held rain or shine, although kids under 12 are not allowed in tour homes. No video or photography is allowed, and tickets are not refundable.
Tickets can be bought online for $40 at www.thetwig.org and on the day of the event for $45 at Boxwood at 128 S. Royal Street, the Old Presbyterian Meeting House at 323 S. Fairfax Street or The Twig Thrift Shop at 106 N. Columbus Street.
It’s a few years behind the cultural zeitgeist, but for anyone still running Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton on repeat: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum’s (138 N Royal Street) Hamilton-themed tour is making a return next month.
The tour centers mostly around Hamilton’s supporting cast like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The musical is also currently touring at the Kennedy Center through Oct. 9.
“Discover the room(s) where it happened,” The Office of Historic Alexandria said in an email. “Inspired by the musical Hamilton, hear about Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr, who all came to the tavern, and delve into the issues they faced and how their choices impacted local citizens.”
The tours are scheduled for Sept. 3, Sept. 9, Sept. 17 and Sept. 23. Each tour runs from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tours are $15 per person or $12 for Office of Historic Alexandria members.
“Space is limited, so advance purchase of tickets is recommended,” the email said. “They may be purchased by calling 703.746.4242 or through the online shop at www.alexandriava.gov/shop.”
Image via Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant/Facebook
The ‘I Love You’ art installation at Waterfront Park is having a rough summer. For most of June and July, the “o” in “Love” was out of commission, and all the lights were recently shut off due to flooding.
Not to worry. The opportunity to take awesome selfies with your squeeze has returned.
As of Friday (July 22), all the light bulbs were replaced and are now in working order.
The installation by Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt of R&R STUDIOS opened in March and will be on view until November. It’s the fourth in the Site See: New Views in Old Town annual public art series, and maintenance of the installation is the responsibility of the artists.
The neon lights are individually hand-crafted glass tubes containing neon gas, and a repair crew “added some reinforcements to the neon tube to help reduce future breakage,” said Diane Ruggiero, deputy director of the city’s Department of Arts Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities.