McLean Day 2023 attendees enjoy a carnival ride (courtesy McLean Community Center)

 

(Updated at 9:30 a.m. on 5/14/2024) McLean Day is about to take over Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road) once again with two days of music, food and carnival rides.

Now in its 109th year, the annual festival organized by the McLean Community Center will keep things fresh with the introduction of a beer and wine garden, a main stage relocation, additional attractions at the Friday night carnival and expanded voting for MCC’s governing board election.

The festivities will begin this Friday (May 17) with the T.G.I.F. Carnival Rides event, which will bring various amusement rides to the park from 2-10 p.m. Free climbing walls, bubble ball and laser tag will be available this year after previously only appearing for the main festival on Saturday (May 18).

Wristbands for unlimited rides can be purchased online until the event begins.

For the first time, McLean residents can vote in the governing board election on Friday from 4-8 p.m. This year’s race has 10 adults vying for four open seats, three teens seeking to represent the Langley High School area and two teens competing to represent McLean High School. Voting will also be open on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The main McLean Day Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and typically draws around 10,000 people, per MCC. In addition to the carnival rides, the event will feature costumed characters, free activities like balloon twisters and a petting zoo, live music, food trucks and the new McLean Day Beer and Wine Garden, which will be open to patrons 21 and older.

Moved to a more central location near the house in Lewinsville Park, the Community Stage will kick the day off with a show put on by students enrolled in MCC’s dance classes. They will be followed at noon by (the) Unruly Theatre Project, The Alden’s teen improv group, before taking the stage again at 12:30 p.m.

The rest of the performance schedule is as follows:

  • 1:55 p.m. — DC Synergy, a dance band
  • 2:45 p.m. — Teen Character Awards presented by the McLean Citizens Association
  • 3 p.m. — DC Synergy returns
  • 4:15 p.m. — English Channel Band, a tribute band that plays British rock and pop from the ’60s and ’70s

The festival will also have a Juggler’s Stage in the children’s ride area with free performances geared toward kids.

According to an MCC press release, confirmed food truck options include:

Parking won’t be available at Lewinsville Park on Saturday, but between 10:25 a.m. and 6 p.m., Fairfax Connector will provide free shuttles from the community center (1234 Ingleside Avenue), McLean Baptist Church (1367 Chain Bridge Road) and Redeemer Lutheran Church (1545 Chain Bridge Road).

This story has been updated to correct the number of adult candidates in the McLean Community Center’s governing board race from 15 to 10.

Fonts Books and Gifts in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

For this year’s Independent Bookstore Day, local bookworms will be encouraged to collect not just new literary titles, but also places to buy them.

More than a dozen shops across Northern Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia have teamed up for a new “Passport” program, giving customers a chance to win prizes if they visit different locations.

“The Passport will introduce book lovers to more of our region’s growing bookstore scene, and offer them a way to celebrate with their favorites,” a press release for the campaign says.

The passports will be issued by the participating stores this Saturday (April 27) on Independent Bookstore Day, which is organized by the American Booksellers Association to celebrate the importance of independently owned book shops to local communities.

Passport holders will then have until May 31 to collect stamps from the participating stores. Four stores will net a book, eight stores a tote bag, and those who visit at least 10 stores can enter to win a grand prize, which will have books, gift cards and other items from each of the 15 shops, according to Fonts Books and Gifts owner Amber Taylor.

Taylor’s McLean store, which opened last year near Chesterbrook Plaza, is one of several Fairfax County businesses involved in the promotional campaign. Bards Alley in Vienna (full disclosure: this reporter’s sister is an employee), Scrawl Books in Reston and Herndon’s A Thousand Stories are also taking part.

“Northern Virginia is home to a robust and growing community of local, independent bookstores. And, our region is full of readers, book lovers and supporters of local businesses,” Taylor said by email. “We hope all of our customers enjoy filling their Bookstore Passports beginning on Saturday as they visit their favorite stores, and some stores that are new to them.”

In addition to the Passport program, each of the stores has its own activities planned for Independent Bookstore Day.

Scrawl Books has lined up several author visits, while Fonts will offer non-alcoholic drink samples, among other activities. Bards Alley will host a “stuffy sleepover” and storytime, and A Thousand Stories has partnered with Arts Herndon and the Friends of Runnymeade Park for a native plant and art sale.

Now in its 11th year, Independent Bookstore Day was started in 2013 by booksellers in California before going national in 2015. According to the American Booksellers Association, over a thousand stores across all 50 states will host events this year.

Passport programs or “bookstore crawls” have become a popular promotional method. The Northern Virginia crawl — which also includes Curious Iguana in Frederick, Maryland, and WordPlay in Wardensville, West Virginia — echoes similar campaigns in D.C., Connecticut and other areas.

The Franconia-Springfield Metro station entrance (staff photo by James Jarvis)

The cost of riding Metro trains and buses will go up, starting July 1, when the transit agency’s new budget takes effect.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) board of directors approved a $4.8 billion fiscal year 2025 budget yesterday (Thursday) that will increase fares by 12.5%, including by ending the flat $2 rate for weekend and late-night rides introduced in 2021 and expanded in 2022.

Going forward, riders will be charged between $2.25 and $2.50 during those times, depending on how far they travel. The new budget also raises the base fare for both buses and rail from $2 to $2.25, the cap for MetroAccess service from $4 to $4.50, and the price of rail and bus passes.

The increases will keep fares “in line with inflation,” WMATA said in a press release.

The transit authority also hopes to generate some more revenue by introducing a 5-cent hourly rental fee for its bicycle lockers, capped at $1 per day, though vehicle parking rates will be unchanged.

In a statement, Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg acknowledged that the budget “asks for a shared sacrifice from our employees and customers,” but WMATA stressed it was able to avoid the “catastrophic” cuts proposed last year, when it projected a $750 million funding deficit.

“We appreciate the collaboration of our regional partners on this board-approved budget that will keep our community moving,” Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said. “This region is a great place to live, work, and play, and our recent ridership reflects the vital role Metro plays in getting people where they need to go.”

Some “targeted” service reductions will still be implemented, including “modest” headway increases for the Orange Line on both weekdays and weekends and for the Green and Yellow lines on weekends, according to a staff report. Metro also plans to utilize more six-car trains and a two-hour peak period.

Metro says it averted more drastic moves like station closures and worker layoffs by identifying $50 million in “cost efficiencies” — including a wage freeze for non-union positions — and securing increased funding commitments from D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

However, the amount of money headed to the transit agency from Virginia remains up in the air. The General Assembly passed a two-year budget in March with an additional $149.5 million for Metro, but Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed an amendment earlier this month that would allocate $133.7 million — most of it redirected from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC).

Last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors urged state lawmakers to reject Youngkin’s proposal, noting that funding is already running low for NVTC, which manages funding for transit systems throughout the region, including Metro.

The ongoing wrangling over the state spending plan has created some uncertainty for the county, which is considering an additional $10 million for Metro in its proposed FY 2025 budget.

Now that Metro has finalized its budget, the county anticipates adjusting its contribution, but the final numbers are contingent on what the state does. Read More

Rep. Gerry Connolly has a Fairfax District Office in the 10680 Mainland Building in Fairfax City (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Two members of Rep. Gerry Connolly’s staff were assaulted this morning by a Fairfax resident with a baseball bat.

The City of Fairfax Police Department and the United States Capitol Police (USCP) are investigating the incident at 10680 Main Street, Suite 140. The suspect has been arrested, while the victims were taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, police said.

According to police, 49-year old Xuan-Kha Tran Pham entered Connolly’s Fairfax District Office in the Mainland Building around 10:49 a.m., carrying a metal baseball bat and used it to assault two staffers.

Connolly wasn’t present at the time.

“Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need,” Connolly said in a statement. “We are incredibly thankful to the City of Fairfax Police Department and emergency medical professionals for their quick response.”

Read more on this story at FFXnow…

Photo via Google Maps

The New Jersey-based fashion retailer Moda Natty has opened a temporary store at Tysons Corner Center (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

A New Jersey store that specializes in full-length dresses and other clothes for women has expanded its reach into Tysons Corner Center.

Moda Natty opened a pop-up store next to Nordstrom on the mall’s first floor in early February, according to an Instagram announcement.

The store will only be around for a limited time, though, setting an end date of Nov. 30, a Tysons Corner Center spokesperson told FFXnow.

“Things have been going very well for them,” the spokesperson said.

Based in Clifton, New Jersey, Moda Natty advertises itself as the “biggest Turkish modest fashion boutique” in the U.S., with brands imported from Turkey and Europe, according to its website.

Intended to be modest and comfortable, the clothes on display include dresses, evening gowns, coats, tunics, skirts, athleticwear, and shawls that can be used as headscarves, reflecting the company’s focus on Muslim women as a target audience.

“Our recent market search shows that there is a high demand from our customers in Virginia to open a store so that they could reach our products more conveniently,” the company told FFXnow. “We also realized that there is a very high population that seeks modest clothing, so we opened up a store in Tysons Corner area.”

Moda Natty is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

In other Tysons Corner Center news, the stuffed animal store Squishable has returned with a pop-up near Seasons 52. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, though the website notes store hours are “subject to change.”

Squishable is located a couple of doors down from Candytopia, the traveling, sweets-happy exhibit that opened earlier this month and is slated to stick around until the end of May.

The mall will welcome another pop-up, The Dr. Seuss Experience, on April 7.

Fairfax County Police Lt. James Curry discusses a fatal shooting in Oakton (via FCPD/Facebook)

An 18-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to a fatal shooting in the Fairfax Village Apartments on Saturday (March 25).

Fairfax County police officers were called to the apartment complex in the 10400 block of Viera Lane in Oakton at 7:47 a.m. by a family member of the victim who reported the shooting to 911.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, the family member was in the apartment’s bedroom when they were awoken by a gunshot. They found Javier Gomez, 20, of Fairfax lying on the living room floor and saw the suspect — identified as Darren Cruz Colindres, 18, of Vienna — running out of the apartment.

“This is not a domestic-related shooting, but the suspect is known to the family,” FCPD Lt. James Curry said in a media briefing that morning.

Cruz Colindres had apparently been staying at the apartment overnight, police said.

When officers got to the scene, they found Gomez on the floor with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the upper body and administered medical aid until Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel arrived to transport him to a hospital, where he later died.

Officers and detectives tracked Cruz Colindres to a home in the 2700 block of Pleasantdale Road in Merrifield, according to the FCPD, which reported just before noon that a suspect had been taken into custody.

In addition to second-degree murder, Cruz Colindres has been charged with the use of a firearm while committing a felony.

No firearm has been recovered yet, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, when the FCPD issued its news release.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy in the coming days to determine the cause and manner of death,” the police department said. “Detectives continue to conduct interviews, collect video surveillance and process evidence recovered from the scene.”

The FCPD says anyone who may have information can contact its Major Crimes Bureau detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

This was Fairfax County’s second homicide last week after a couple was found dead on a Reston trail on Wednesday (March 22) in what police believe was a murder-suicide incident.

High winds are causing power outages in Fairfax County, including in Great Falls and Oakton (via Dominion Energy)

(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Hundreds of people in Fairfax County have lost electricity today (Tuesday) as winds buffet the D.C. region, taking out power lines and contributing to at least one fire.

Georgetown Pike is currently closed in both directions at Miller Avenue in Great Falls due to a tree that fell on power lines and “a resulting fire,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said shortly after 1 p.m.

The closure extends between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

“Expect delays for several hours as emergency and utility crews clear the scene,” VDOT tweeted.

That one outage has affected 277 Dominion Energy customers, according to the utility company’s outage map. Power isn’t expected to be restored there until 4-9 p.m.

Further south in the Vienna and Oakton area, Dominion crews are assessing the damage caused by the wind storm in the Lake Vale neighborhood. Power is now being restored to over 800 customers.

Vale Road has been closed between Hunter Mill Road and Stryker Avenue due to fallen power lines, according to Fairfax County police.

“The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route,” the FCPD said.

While those are the largest outages reported so far, power losses and road closures due to fallen wires have been seen across the county today. As of 1:50 p.m., about 1,268 Dominion Energy customers in the county were without power.

The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory that took effect at 9 a.m. today and will remain in place until 2 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

Winds have been consistently exceeding 40 mph, with some gusts topping 50 mph, according to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

The Virginia Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools, alleging that delays in notifying students of commendations for their preliminary SAT test scores may constitute civil rights violations.

Attorney General Jason Miyares announced yesterday that the entire school system will be subject to a review that began last week with a focus on Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).

The expansion comes after principals at Westfield and Langley high schools reportedly informed families over the weekend that they also didn’t notify students designated as “commended students” by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) this fall.

“It’s concerning that multiple schools throughout Fairfax County withheld merit awards from students,” Miyares said in a press release. “My office will investigate the entire Fairfax County Public Schools system to find out if any students were discriminated against and if their rights were violated.”

In a letter to FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid, Miyares said his office is investigating whether the school system violated the Virginia Human Rights Act’s prohibitions of discrimination based on race, color and national origin.

Reid said she “proactively” alerted the attorney general’s office to the lack of “timely notification” for Westfield and Langley students after it was found by an independent review that the school system initiated last week, according to a message sent to the community yesterday.

“As soon as this new development was confirmed, Westfield and Langley high schools notified all impacted families and their broader respective school communities,” Reid wrote. “Please be aware that FCPS is committed to sharing information that impacts our communities as soon as possible.”

Reid said school staff have been contacting colleges where the affected students applied.

“We are sincerely sorry for this error. Each and every student, their experience and success, remain our priority,” she said.

Initially, the delay at TJ appeared to be “a unique situation due to human error,” Reid said on Wednesday (Jan. 4).

She said then that the attorney general’s investigation will include “a review” of TJ’s admissions policies, which were revised in 2020 in an effort to diversify the magnet school’s student body. A lawsuit arguing that the changes discriminate against Asian students is currently in a federal appeals court.

Notably, the delayed notifications for commended students at TJ were first reported by Asra Nomani, co-founder of the Coalition for TJ, which filed the lawsuit opposing the admissions changes.

The National Merit Scholarship Program recognizes the top 50,000 scorers on the pSAT, a practice standardized test often considered by colleges. Though only a handful of actual scholarships are awarded each year, about 34,000 students get letters of commendations that go out in late September, per the website.

FCPS announced in mid-September that 238 of its students had advanced to the semi-finals. It didn’t mention how many students were commended.

In letters to the Washington Post, local public education advocate Holly Hazard and a former university admissions director argued that Miyares and Gov. Glenn Youngkin — both Republicans — have “wildly overreacted” to the delayed notices, a sentiment echoed by a couple Democratic elected officials.

“There is nothing to investigate,” state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) told FFXnow, noting that information about pSAT scores is available online through the College Board website.

“Fairfax County has the best public schools in Virginia and the Governor and Attorney General are trying to bring their culture war to Fairfax because they’re not willing to invest in public schools or treat our teachers like licensed professionals,” he said in an emailed statement.

The investigation precedes a General Assembly session convening Wednesday (Jan. 11) that will see consideration of a voucher program allowing public funds to be used for private school expenses, among other education-related proposals.

It also kicks off a year where all 12 seats on the Fairfax County School Board — currently held entirely by Democrats — will be up for election.

Read the comments…

The STEM school iCode opened a Vienna campus earlier in December (courtesy iCode)

A Texas-based technology education company has branched out into Vienna.

The school iCode launched its first Virginia franchise in the town earlier this month and is now hosting camps on game building, robotics and other tech skills for students out on break for the winter.

Located in a former Apple Federal Credit Union at 419A Maple Avenue East, iCode Vienna will get a grand opening at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 10.

“As parents living and working in Fairfax County, we saw a need to provide our children earlier exposure to technical education,” franchise co-owner David Dilly said in a statement. “…We realize children love gaming, so why not provide a positive outlet for their desires by learning to understand how their favorite games work?”

Founded in 2015 by Abid Abedi, iCode has close to 50 franchises around the U.S., along with two in Asia. All of the locations follow a curriculum developed by the company’s corporate office in Frisco, Texas.

The Vienna campus is the first of several planned for Virginia, specifically in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Next up, a school in Burke will open in spring 2023, according to Dilly.

In addition to camps, the school offers three tiers of programs, from one designed for flexibility where students build their own video game to classes focused on specific science, technology, engineering and math topics.

The most popular is a “Belt” program, which is intended to provide a “comprehensive” education in STEM subjects and the arts, iCode Vienna Director Toni Escobedo says. Covering ages 5 through 15, the program teaches a total of seven programming languages with each course building on the previous one.

Escobedo says iCode tailors its class and camp offerings to students’ interests, grouping classes based on age and skill level. The school is equipped with tablets, desktops, drones, robotics, 3D printers, an e-sports gaming lounge and more, with no outside technology needed.

She says the school distinguishes itself from other coding programs by emphasizing the full-time involvement of instructors in all classes and incorporating “soft skills” like project management and collaboration into the curriculum.

“These skills help students succeed not only academically but in their relationships and future careers,” she told FFXnow.

Read the comments…

A model house with a magnifying glass and piggy bank in the background (via Photo by Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash)

A couple in Merrifield have been sentenced to prison for using the wife’s real estate job to steal people’s identities.

Caprice Foster, 51, and Marcus Foster, 33, took personal identifying information from at least nine people and used it to “buy a luxury vehicle, lease high-end residences, and obtain loans and credit,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said Friday (Oct. 14).

The information was primarily obtained through Caprice Foster’s work as a real estate agent and timeshare salesperson, per the news release:

To carry out their fraud scheme, the Fosters created numerous false identification documents in other people’s names, including social security cards and driver’s licenses, and they also fabricated tax and employment documents in their victims’ names. The Fosters opened fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and deposited stolen and altered checks into these accounts. The Fosters also incorporated a business that they used in furtherance of the fraud. Mr. Foster even impersonated victims in state court eviction proceedings to prolong the Fosters’ stay in residences they fraudulently leased.

Caprice Foster was sentenced to 80 months in prison, while Marcus has been sentenced to 58 months.

According to the Department of Justice, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis joined prosecutors at the sentencing announcement, along with officials from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Photo via Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash

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