In between the sprawling lawns of Loudoun County and the riverside lofts of Alexandria lie clusters of struggling, predominantly non-white neighborhoods that are increasingly left out of the success and prosperity experienced by Northern Virginia as a whole, recent research notes.
In fact, conditions in some of those neighborhoods — called “islands of disadvantage” — have been in decline for years.
According to a new report by the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, poverty, rates of people without health insurance, educational attainment, job opportunities and overcrowding all worsened in those neighborhoods between 2013 and 2021.
At the same time, the report notes the economic progress seen in some areas was also accompanied by gentrification and displacement of people of color.
“What is otherwise a healthy and wealthy area is also home to areas of concentrated disadvantage,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, lead author of the VCU report. “This is not something that is widely known, that people are living in deep poverty just a short distance away from the McMansions and golf courses.”
The report, “Lost Opportunities: The Persistence of Disadvantaged Neighborhoods in Northern Virginia,” compares census data from 2009-13 and 2017-21 for Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria to understand the social and economic changes the region has experienced over time.
The report, commissioned by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, builds upon previous research led by Woolf that showed the disproportionate amount of non-white residents that make up struggling neighborhoods experience substantially higher rates of premature death compared to Northern Virginia as a whole.
The latest research found that between 2009-13 and 2017-21, 92% of Northern Virginia census tracts saw an increase in median income, 73% had a rise in residents with a bachelor’s degree and 59% experienced gains in the proportion of adults with a high school diploma. Poverty and uninsured rates decreased in 52% and 78% of the region’s census tracts, respectively.
However, some “islands of disadvantage” experienced opposite trends during those time periods. One section of Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County saw median household income decrease by about $10,000, child poverty rates nearly double to 63% and the overall poverty rate climb to 30%.
In one census tract in the Bull Run area of Prince William County where the Hispanic population increased by 53% while the white population fell by 38%, median household income increased by only $2,140, the poverty rate increased by 60% and overcrowded housing increased by 187%.
While some struggling neighborhoods saw a slight increase in median household income, Woolf said those gains have not risen proportionately to keep up with the cost of inflation.
“It’s not enough to keep people out of poverty,” Woolf said. “We live in a time with rising health care costs, rising costs for child care and inflation that’s causing increased prices for food and other necessities.”
At the same time, economic progress in some areas was accompanied by increases in the size of the white population, suggesting gentrification and displacement of people of color may have also been underway.
Researchers pointed as one example to the Courthouse area of Arlington County, where median household income increased from $87,233 to $132,603 and the poverty rate plummeted from 19% to 5%. However, at the same time the share of the population that was white grew from 48% to 68%, while those of the Black and Asian populations declined by 42% and 72%, respectively. Similar displacement trends were also seen in Old Town Alexandria, areas of Annandale and the historically Black neighborhood of Green Valley/Nauck.
The report said it is unclear if the relief programs instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, like economic assistance and eviction moratoriums, accounted for some of the progress seen in certain areas, like increases in median income — or if that progress was only temporary.
While some might argue that economically struggling Northern Virginia residents should move away from an area where the cost of living is so high, Woolf said it’s not that simple. Not only is moving unaffordable for many of these families, Woolf said, but “economists and others have shown that regions thrive when there is diversity and when there is equity and opportunity across the population.”
“So systematically displacing low-income families and people of color from a region is not a healthy strategy for trying to give an opportunity for everyone to thrive,” he said.
Moving forward, Woolf said policymakers need to invest more into marginalized communities and commit resources to improve their living conditions and health.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said the county’s One Fairfax Policy, which was passed in 2016 with the intent of combating racial and social disparities seen in some neighborhoods, aims to address many of the problems identified in the study.
“Whether it be through building more affordable housing units, creating more public transit options, or fully funding our school budget, we are constantly working towards breaking cycles of poverty and expanding our resident’s access to basic needs,” McKay said in an email.
A top-tier Italian soccer club is making a play for Tysons.
AC Milan, which claims to be the “most popular Italian football brand” in the U.S., announced last month that it has chosen Fairfax County as the site of its first youth training academy in North America.
Offering programs for kids aged 5 to 17, AC Milan Academy Virginia will launch next spring at 8300 Boone Blvd, Suite 500.
“AC Milan Academy Virginia is another piece in the consolidation process of the AC Milan brand on a global level,” Maikel Oettle, the club’s chief commercial officer, said. “The launch of the AC Milan Academy project in the US territory attests to our commitment and our contribution to the promotion of football in North America, through which we aim to export the values of AC Milan worldwide.”
Founded in 1899 by some Englishmen living in Italy, Associazione Calcio Milan operates 16 training academies in Europe and Asia. It made its first foray into North America this summer with a series of junior camps in Canada.
To introduce itself to the area, the club is bringing a junior camp for kids aged 6 to 17 to George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. Registration is currently open for the camp, which is aimed at potential Academy players and will take place from Dec. 6-9.
Led by Davide Battistini, who has also served as head coach at the Vietnam and Saudi Arabia academies, the Virginia academy will have programs for U6 (ages 5-6) through U18 (ages 17-18). Participants will work with both specialized professionals and local technical staff who will support their “personal and sporting growth,” the club said.
The academy’s creation stems from a partnership between AC Milan and Black & Red Pumas, which is named after the club’s colors and top sponsor. Vienna resident Dario Scatena founded the company as an AC Milan fan.
“I am very pleased with this collaboration that will bring the colours and values of AC Milan and Italian traditions to the American territory,” Scatena, the CEO of Black & Red Pumas, said. “I am very confident that the excellence and the AC Milan Method will bring great benefits, firstly for the young players in their personal growth, and then for American soccer. This is a family for me, and I look forward to both girls and boys feeling part of this great family and growing in every aspect with its values.”
Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA and D.C. with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].
Did you know that the county has many resources available for residents to use — for free? I wanted to highlight some of them for you so you’re aware of these resources:
Planner of the Day
A Fairfax County planning division employee is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to answer calls and questions. Questions like “Can I build a garage? Can I put on an addition?”; questions about a permit application, or historic resources. The county has a person for those answers. Check out this website to find the correct phone number or email address.
- This can be especially helpful when looking at houses to buy and making sure you can do what you want. *Don’t forget if you’re in the Town of Vienna, there’s an additional layer to work through.
Fairfax County has multiple shelters if you’re looking to adopt a dog, cat or small animal. You can learn more about these shelters here.
Car Seat Safety Checks
I hated installing/moving car seats. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love the car wash and with all of the crumbs that toddlers make, I was removing the car seat regularly. If you’re unsure if you’ve installed the car seat correctly, Fairfax County Police have safety checks to ease your worry!
If you’re looking to get into the weeds with information on neighborhoods, the county also has some great resources for data. You can check out their mapping features and community profiles.
Mental Health Assessments
This time of year is hard, for so many people and for so many different reasons. The county has a walk-in clinic at 8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Parkway, Fairfax that’s open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to help with mental health services.
Town of Vienna Resources
The town of 2 thermal cameras that attach to your phone to take thermal photos of your walls, doors and windows to see how well insulated it is.
The Town of Vienna includes leaf collection by way of vacuum if you rake or blow your leaves to the curb. There’s a map of the streets they do so you can try to time their visit.
The Town used to offer an arborist to residents to check on the health of your trees. However that staffing position is currently vacant, but we hope they fill that spot soon!
The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com
Fairfax County is looking to update its guidelines for how rental and mobile home developers can assist displaced tenants for the first time in a decade.
Director of Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development Tom Fleetwood presented the proposed guidelines to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a housing committee meeting last week (Nov. 28).
“The goals are to maintain our commitments to affordable housing, to ensure that as many of our existing residents who depend on affordable housing are able to stay in it, and that we’re able to also move forward with redevelopment as we need to,” Fleetwood said.
Last updated in 2012, the Relocation Guidelines provide a plan for residential developers to follow for multi-family rental buildings or mobile homes that are going to be demolished, rehabilitated or converted.
Under the new guidelines, owners would be required to engage with the existing tenants and develop a relocation plan for them. The guidelines will also apply to all affordable housing owned, managed or funded by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority and properties subject to the Preservation Policy adopted in March.
“Our expectation is that [the developers will] provide moving cost reimbursement and housing counseling, and that they will provide staffing to conduct these activities,” Fleetwood said. “We want the owner to create a property profile so that we understand who’s living there, what the rent rolls look like, what opportunities there are for tenants to move into units that best match their needs.”
According to Fleetwood, another goal is for every tenant who is relocated to be able to return.
“In the event all tenants are unable to return, a priority ranking system tool will help property owners prioritize those with the greatest need,” the presentation said.
For example, priority could be given to a household with children or a disabled person living in it.
Developers could also be required to make up any differences in security deposits.
“If someone has to move, and the security deposit at their new home is higher than their existing security deposit, we would expect that a developer would pay that difference,” Fleetwood said.
Tenants facing permanent and temporary relocation will receive both relocation services and reimbursement of moving costs. Those who have to permanently move would also get relocation payments or a tenant assistance fund that would provide a time-limited rental subsidy.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck questioned how the guidelines and expectations would be enforced, which he said could be one of the biggest challenges.
Fleetwood said there are plans to hire a specialist who will be in charge of monitoring relocation plans.
The county will now conduct outreach and collect feedback before releasing a revised draft of the new guidelines next April. The proposal will be submitted for the board’s final approval in June.
Image via Google Maps
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) The winners of Vienna’s first-ever holiday display lottery have been revealed.
A menorah and illuminated dreidel were installed late last month at the Town Green, joining a live Christmas tree — also a first for Vienna — that was lit during the annual Church Street Holiday Stroll last Monday, Nov. 27.
Commemorating Hanukkah, which will unfold this year from Dec. 7-15, the menorah was installed on Nov. 28, while the dreidel came into place the following day. They were submitted, respectively, by the Chabad Tysons Jewish Center and Jewish Moms of Vienna.
The winter solstice, which kicks off the season with the shortest day of the year, will arrive at 10:27 p.m. EST on Dec. 21.
“We live in a multicultural community, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for various winter holiday traditions to be honored in our public space,” Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton said. “Residents from all walks of life gather on the Town Green for celebrations throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing various festive displays that represent our community during the season of peace and light.”
Announced in early November, the lottery gave residents an opportunity to submit their ideas for winter holiday decor that could be installed alongside the new Christmas tree. The submission period was open through Nov. 17, and the winners were notified by Nov. 22.
However, the town only received three submissions — the maximum number it planned to select — so no actual lottery was necessary for this first year.
At the Chabad Jewish Center’s request, the town will host a menorah-lighting ceremony at the Town Green (144 Maple Avenue) at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.
(Correction: This article initially listed the start time for the menorah-lighting ceremony as 4 p.m.)
All of the displays can remain up until Jan. 10.
In other Vienna holiday news, voting is underway for the town’s annual window decorating contest. Winners will be announced during a holiday reception at Town Hall (127 Center Street South) on Friday (Dec. 8).
Local Family Mourns Loved Ones Killed in Gaza — Hani Almadhoun and his family are “numb with grief” after his brother, sister-in-law and their four children were all killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza the morning after Thanksgiving — just before a pause in attacks that resumed Friday (Dec. 1). A memorial service was recently held in Franconia. [NBC4]
Lumber Yard Closes After Two Centuries in Business — Smoot Lumber yard shut down Friday after operating for more than 200 years. Located in Springfield at the border with Alexandria City, the “supplier of mouldings, doors and windows has been a staple for local builders since it was founded in 1822.” [ALXnow]
Police Rescue Dog Stuck in Air Vent — “A 17-year-old Shih Tzu named Maya had to be rescued after somehow getting herself stuck in an air duct last weekend in Fairfax County, Virginia. The rescue and reunion with her owner played out on police bodycam footage posted on social media Friday by the Fairfax County Police Department.” [WTOP]
County’s Hypothermia Shelter Program Underway — “Our Hypothermia Prevention Program is in place to ensure no one experiencing homelessness sleeps outside during the winter. The program provides warm shelter, food, clothing, connections to supportive services and more for unhoused individuals.” [Fairfax County Government]
N. Va. Officials Concerned by Transportation Funding Changes — “Some Northern Virginia elected leaders and transit advocates are expressing concern over plans to change SMART SCALE, the commonwealth’s transportation funding program. They say the proposals could make standalone bike and pedestrian projects less competitive for funding, and could also hurt support for transit.” [DCist]
Fairfax City Adopts Non-Discrimination Program — “The Fairfax City Council affirmed the city’s commitment to non-discrimination when it adopted the city’s first formal Title VI program on Nov. 28…Title VI provides that no person shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, color, or national origin,” later expanding to include “disability, age, income status, sexual orientation, gender identification, and persons with limited English proficiency.” [City of Fairfax]
FCPS Electric School Buses Reach Milestone — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) recognized a milestone during an event on Tuesday [Nov. 28] — a combined one million miles driven by Virginia electric school buses. Employees with the school district and Dominion Energy gathered in Lorton, Virginia at 11 a.m. to celebrate the achievement.” [WJLA]
Fire Department Shares Hannukah Safety Reminder — “Hanukkah starts this week! To keep safe and festive, consider using battery-operated flameless candles. If using traditional candles – ensure your menorah is on a sturdy surface & keep at least 1ft from anything that can burn. Don’t forget to blow out all candles!” [FCFRD/Twitter]
It’s Monday — Expect a partly sunny day with a high temperature of around 52 degrees and a northwest wind blowing at 6 to 9 mph. As evening approaches, the skies will be partly cloudy and the temperature will drop to around 36 degrees. [Weather.gov]
In the future, people who earn more than Fairfax County’s median income will likely no longer be able to buy workforce housing.
A task force recommended to the Board of Supervisors housing committee on Tuesday (Nov. 28) that the top income bracket be dropped from the Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Homebuyer Program, which currently provides price-controlled townhouses and condominiums to people who make 80% to 120% of the area median income (AMI).
Building on a revision of the county’s rental WDU program in 2021, the task force proposed dropping the 120% AMI tier and adding 70% AMI households — which are already offered at some properties — as part of a general policy overhaul intended to make the homebuyer program more efficient and effective.
“The recommendation that came out of the task force was really to reset the program and shift everything down by a third,” Anna Shapiro, the county’s deputy director of real estate finance and development, said. “…It was recognized that there is a financial impact to resetting the program, but it would be balanced by the predictability of having the policy reset in a way that developers understood going into the program what they’d be required to do.”
Initiated by the Board of Supervisors in February, the 13-person WDU For-Sale Policy Task Force included county staff, residential developers, affordable housing advocates and other industry experts. With help from the consultant HR&A Advisors, it met from April to October to evaluate the existing program, research best practices and develop recommendations for improvements.
Right now, the county grants residential developers bonus density if they designate at least 12% of all units as affordable or workforce housing, except in Tysons, which has higher requirements. For WDUs, the countywide policy requires that 4% of the total units target each of the 80%, 100% and 120% AMI tiers.
According to Shapiro, the 120% AMI WDUs are more difficult to sell, staying on the market for 419 days on average — almost twice as long as even the 100% units, which average 235 days. In comparison, units at 70% and 80% AMI sell in around 74 and 104 days, respectively.
In general, the county’s supply of for-sale WDUs is limited, but of the 12 units for 120% AMI that have been produced, 42% remain unsold. The lack of demand reflects stronger competition from market-rate housing, Shapiro explained, noting that 46% of the homes sold in the county since 2020 are affordable to those in the 100-120% AMI range.
With developers shouldering the cost of any unsold units, they have shifted toward units aimed at lower income levels during proffer negotiations, where the county can set conditions for a project’s approval.
“There is a huge demand that we see for units below 80% AMI, so we really wanted to see how we can serve that population better,” Shapiro said.
In addition to adjusting the AMI range, the task force recommends requiring that the number of WDUs with three or more bedrooms be proportional to the number of similarly sized market-rate units.
“If you then produce a lot of two and three-bedroom market rate units but then a lot of your WDUs are one-bedroom or studio, it’s really an equity issue as well as a marketability issue for the property,” Shapiro told the committee.
The task force also proposed expanding the WDU for-sale policy to all sites zoned or planned for medium or high-density residential development, defined as eight or more dwelling units per acre.
According to county staff, the expansion would create relatively limited but still valuable opportunities for workforce housing, particularly in the central and southeastern parts of the county. Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay asked for an estimate of how many units could potentially be added.
“Just to expand it to expand it without any idea of what we’re actually talking about concerns me a little bit,” he said.
Other recommendations are more focused on administrative changes, including tweaks to how the county calculates both initial and resale pricing for WDUs.
While the board generally seemed impressed by the task force’s work, some supervisors questioned whether the 100% AMI tier should also be eliminated to encourage more units at lower incomes, possibly even down to 60% AMI.
“If that number is reduced, we can serve even more people,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said. “The core of what I think the county’s responsibility is [should be] to support folks at the lower income level first and help those folks build that generational wealth.”
Shapiro noted that 60% AMI households can utilize the county’s Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) rental program, which has two tiers for households earning up to 50% and 70% AMI.
Even though the county’s AMI has climbed to $152,100 for a family of four, residents at that income level or lower could only afford 28% of the homes sold between 2020 and 2023, according to sales data collected by HR&A Advisors.
“That’s a lot of people,” Fairfax County At-Large Planning Commissioner Candice Bennett, who chaired the task force, said. “…This is actually, oddly enough, the ‘missing middle.’ So, think about the three out of four people that we are not able to serve because the market is so astronomically high.”
The Board of Supervisors is expected to endorse the task force’s recommendations, potentially as soon as its meeting next Tuesday (Dec. 5). From there, the board will direct county staff to draft a comprehensive plan amendment revising the WDU for-sale policy.
Image via Google Maps
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Fairfax County police have arrested two men who allegedly broke into a house in the McLean area earlier this week and robbed and assaulted its residents at gunpoint.
Officers were called to the 1300 block of Spring Hill Road — just north of Tysons and the Dulles Toll Road — at 5:45 a.m. on Monday (Nov. 27) when a 911 caller reported that at least one stranger was in her house “screaming about money,” according to the dispatch on Open MHz.
An investigation found that three people “forcibly entered” the residence and “demanded money” while brandishing a gun, the Fairfax County Police Department said today (Friday).
“The men assaulted two victims inside the home then ran from the residence,” the police department said in a news release. “One victim was taken to the hospital for injuries considered not life-threatening.”
Officers located one of the suspects — identified as 32-year-old Lorton resident Jaquan Ross — that day with help from a helicopter and K9 unit. Ross was spotted by the chopper “attempting to conceal himself by laying on the ground,” according to the FCPD.
Ross has been charged with three counts each of abduction and robbery, burglary, malicious wounding, and use of a firearm while committing a felony.
The subsequent investigation led detectives to identify Elijah Thomas, 24, of Dumfries as one of the other men involved in the robbery, the FCPD says. He was arrested yesterday (Thursday) and faces the same charges as Ross, with the addition of one count of being a felon in possession of a gun.
Police say the third person involved in the incident was also a man, but they’re still working to identify him.
Though the 911 caller described the intruders as strangers, the FCPD says detectives don’t believe the robbery was committed at random.
“During the investigation, certain facts and circumstances led investigators to believe this was not a random act,” the police department said in a statement to FFXnow. “The case is still currently under investigation and detectives are actively following leads.”
Ross and Thomas are both in custody without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. After an arraignment on Tuesday (Nov. 28), Ross will get a preliminary hearing on Feb. 28, 2024, while Thomas was arraigned today and scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 4, according to court records.
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Kilmer Middle School in Tysons has stepped up the presence of its security team today (Friday) in response to an alleged threat of gun violence heard during a fight.
In a message sent to parents at 3:10 p.m. yesterday (Thursday), principal Steven McFarlane said the school had been “made aware of an alleged threat of gun violence that was overheard by students during a fight” that afternoon.
The incident prompted an investigation by the school’s Office of Safety and Security and the Fairfax County Police Department, which jointly determined that there was “no direct threat” at the time.
“Out of an abundance of caution, tomorrow we’ll have extra Safety and Security presence to ensure our students feel safe,” McFarlane said in the email.
According to the FCPD, its school resource officer at Kilmer began an investigation after someone reported overhearing one of two students involved in “an altercation” say that they “may bring a gun to school.”
The police department initially told FFXnow that it was determined “no threat to bring a gun to school was made,” but a spokesperson later clarified that the investigation is still ongoing.
“The students involved have been identified,” the FCPD told FFXnow by email. “There is no active threat to the school at this time. FCPS will conduct their own risk assessment with the student(s) as a follow-up.”
FCPS didn’t return a request for additional comment.
According to McFarlane, the investigation included a risk assessment. Fairfax County Public Schools requires a team of school staff to conduct an assessment “when a student makes an explicit or implicit threat or demonstrates concerning behaviors that may pose a danger to the safety of school staff or students.”
McFarlane’s full message is below:
November 30, 2023
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We have been made aware of an alleged threat of gun violence that was overheard by students during a fight this afternoon. Fairfax County Police and our Office of Safety and Security are involved in the investigation, which includes a risk assessment. It has been determined that there is no direct threat to the school at this time. Out of an abundance of caution, tomorrow we’ll have extra Safety and Security presence to ensure our students feel safe.
The safety of our students is our primary concern, and we will always investigate these incidents as soon as we are made aware. The first step that you should take if your child shares a safety concern with you is to contact authorities. If your safety concern is an emergency, please call 911. FCPS Office of Safety and Security also has a safety tip line that you can access anonymously online, by text or by phone.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Image via Google Maps
Low Interest in Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program — “A new study that takes a close look at Virginia’s medical marijuana program showed that many marijuana users are simply ignoring the program and finding the drug elsewhere…The average price per gram for marijuana flower in Virginia is around $14, the study found,” which is more expensive than both D.C. and Maryland. [WTOP]
Fair Oaks Mall Owners Miss Loan Deadline — “The owners of Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax — the region’s second-largest shopping center — have missed an extended payoff deadline on distressed loans totaling about $239 million…Notes to bondholders indicate negotiations and efforts to stabilize the property are underway, but they also note that foreclosure proceedings could be on the table as early as February.” [Washington Business Journal]
Great Falls Residents Challenge Mental Health Group Home — “A Great Falls group home has drawn the ire of neighbors who say the facility offers services exceeding those approved by the Fairfax County government and lets its charges wander around the vicinity.” After Mission for Michael officials didn’t testify on Nov. 15, the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals “set a new public hearing for Jan. 31 next year, but demanded a representative of the group home be present.” [Gazette Leader]
Annandale Getting Another Hot Chicken Restaurant — “Crimson Coward Nashville Hot Chicken is coming to the vacant storefront at 7004 Columbia Pike in the Annandale Shopping Center between Collector’s World and Sweet Frog…The chicken is prepared with a ‘crimson rub’ consisting of dozens of spices. There are five levels of heat.” [Annandale Today]
Renovated Hotel Near Fort Belvoir Celebrates Reopening — “The Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Belvoir Alexandria South, which broke ground along the Richmond Highway Corridor 15 years ago and opened in 2009, held a grand reopening celebration Nov. 29 after a complete interior and exterior renovation earlier this year.” [On the MoVe]
Santa Events Coming to County Parks — “Enjoy the spirit of the holidays with Santa at Fairfax County Parks beginning this weekend.” The “jolly old elf” will appear at Sully Historic Site tomorrow (Saturday), Frying Pan Farm Park on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month, and at Burke Lake on Saturdays and Sundays. [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Santa Fire Truck Rides Start in McLean — Continuing a decades-long tradition, the McLean Volunteer Fire Department will transform its antique fire truck into a sleigh for Santa, who will hand out free candy canes throughout McLean. The sleigh will visit different neighborhoods, starting at 5 p.m., from Dec. 2-6 and can be tracked in real time on the department’s website. [McLean VFD/Facebook]
Swearing-In Ceremony Planned for County Officials — “The Board of Supervisors invites you to the Inauguration Ceremony for Fairfax County’s 15th Urban County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County’s Constitutional Officers, and Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Directors. Reception begins at 5 p.m. Ceremony begins at 6 p.m.” on Dec. 13. [Fairfax County Government]
It’s Friday — There’s an 80% chance of rain, mainly after 2pm, with a high near 51 and south winds of 5-13 mph, gusting up to 18 mph. Friday night, rain is likely before 7pm, followed by cloudiness and a low of 46. [Weather.gov]
Sugar plum fairies are getting ready to descend on Fairfax County, which will host multiple productions of Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” this holiday season.
The 131-year-old ballet, now a Christmastime tradition, will first waltz into Tysons, with two shows at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) on Sunday, Dec. 3.
Produced by Talmi Entertainment with dancers from around the world, NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet is returning to the concert hall’s main theater as part of its 31st annual North American tour. Doors will open an hour before the 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. showtimes.
“We’re the only nationally touring Nutcracker production, so we strive to top ourselves each year,” Talmi Entertainment Executive Producer Dan Talmi said in a press release. “There is a sense of pride and responsibility when it comes to this show. It has become a holiday tradition in households across the country and our team works year round to give audiences the best of everything.”
Starring Ukrainian ballerinas Karyna Shatkovskaya and Elena Pechenyuk as Clara, the production deviates in its second act by shifting the setting from the usual Land of Sweets to a Land of Peace and Harmony “where there are no wars and no children suffer.” Clara and the Nutcracker Prince are guided through the land by two dancers in the unique acro-ballet adagio “Doves of Peace.”
Other notable elements include marionettes and animal puppets, a hand-crafted Christmas tree that grows up to 100 feet tall, and the introduction of a Herald character that represents “the spirit of the forest.”
For those interested in a more local production, Capital One Hall will also host the Dance Academy of Virginia’s inaugural performance of “The Nutcracker Sweet” in The Vault at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.
In addition, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) and Fairfax Ballet Company will team up once again to present “The Nutcracker” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Drive) in Fairfax.
Scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17, the production is one of the few in the D.C. area with live music by a full orchestra, according to the FSO. This iteration — the seventh that the orchestra and ballet company have brought to GMU — will feature New York City Ballet members Emily Kikta and Aarón Sanz as guest soloists.
“Our unique production has become a cherished tradition of the season,” FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr said in a statement. “Audiences delight in the incredible dancers on stage, while Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music is performed live by our orchestra musicians. The dance, live music, plus the stunning, digital scenery creates a winter wonderland in a magical production that’s perfect for the entire family.”