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Archive for November, 2010

Pictures with Santa Claus in Del Ray and Old Town Alexandria

This weekend is your chance to get pictures taken with Santa Claus in both Del Ray and Old Town Alexandria.

On Friday night, Dec. 3, Del Ray will celebrate the holiday season with luminarias, a tree lighting, singing and, of course, Santa Claus.  Professional photographer Mark Blackburn will be on had to take pictures – all courtesy of the Del Ray Business Association.

Festivities get started at 6:00pm at the site of the Del Ray Farmers Market at Oxford and Mt. Vernon Avenue.

Santa Gets a Bear HugSanta Claus will also make an appearance in Old Town Alexandria at the Old Town Firehouse at the corner of Prince and Royal.  Santa’s appearance here is a fund raiser to support the Helping Hands Relief Fund.

For a donation of $10 you can use your own camera and take pictures (and lots of them) with Santa or use the photographer on hand.  Santa is in residence from 11:00am -3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5.

And to top it off, Santa always makes an appearance in the Scottish Walk Parade – also scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 in Old Town Alexandria.

Ho, ho, ho,


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

BRAC Move to Mark Center Under Department of Defense Investigation

The continuing controversy over the proposed move of some 6,400 military personnel to Mark Center on Seminary Road as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process has taken a new turn.

US Congressman Jim Moran, a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, and Northern Virginia stalwart, announced that the Inspector General’s office of the DoD has launched an investigation into the move.

According to an announcement released by the Congressman’s office, “The development comes in response to the Congressman’s continued pressure on the Defense Department to suspend or delay the move into the Mark Center site until the necessary transportation improvements to prevent a traffic nightmare on I-395 are implemented. Earlier this year, in addition to including a cap on the amount of parking at the site at 1,000 spaces, Moran authored language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 that mandates the Inspector General to review the analysis that enabled DoD to bypass a full environmental impact study.”

iStock_000003482477XSmallIn July 2008, an Environmental Assessment by the Army Corps of Engineers’ concluded that relocating the 6,400 employees to the Mark Center would have no significant impact from a transportation perspective. Multiple studies have since called that assessment into question, including ones prepared by the Virginia Department of Transportation and even the Army’s own report.

It makes you wonder if anyone in the Army Corp of Engineers has ever driven in rush hour traffic on this stretch of I-395 or even on major surface streets in the Seminary Road area?

Another huge area of concern over the BRAC move is a proposed access road through the adjacent Winkler Botanical Preserve.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

1113 North Pitt Street in Old Town Alexandria at Canal Place

1113 North Pitt Street, Unit 2B, in Old Town Alexandria at Canal Place is now available for showing.

This sunny one bedroom, one bath condominium is a corner unit with an eat in kitchen and wood burning fireplace.

A mere three stop lights from Washington, DC on the George Washington Parkway, Canal Place is a commuters delight.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Christmas Concerts in Old Town Alexandria

The City of Alexandria is sponsoring a series of Christmas concerts at Market Square in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.

christmas_concertEnjoy the music of the season with gospel groups, barbershop quartets, folk music and caroling.

Saturday, November 27

Sunday, November 28

Sunday, December 5

Saturday, December 11

Sunday, December 12

Schedules are subject to change without notice. For additional information call the Events Hotline at 703.746.5592 or the Special Events office at 703.746.5418.

And if you want to look at real estate call me at 703.927.4554.


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Alexandria Turkey Trot 2010

Over 4,000 runners gathered this morning under cold, gray skies to kick off the 2010 Alexandria Turkey Trot in Del Ray.

This was the 35th running of the Turkey Trot, the premiere DC area Thanksgiving road race.

the front runners

the front runners

Going all out

Going all out

All ages welcome

All ages welcome

Sponsored jointly by the DC Road Runners Club and the Del Ray Business Association, the course is flat, fast and USATF certified.

What a great way to get ready for mashed potatoes and gravy!


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Celebrate the Holiday Season in Alexandria VA

Celebrate the holiday season in Alexandria with a full roster of activities:

Friday, November 26 – City of Alexandria’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Kick off the holiday season by attending the 2010 Annual City Tree Lighting Ceremony in Market Square, located in front of City Hall, 301 King St. Admission is free, and the event will take place rain or shine.  Enjoy a visit from Santa Claus, a performance of Santa’s Frosty Follies by the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center, and a community sing-along after the tree lighting.

Friday, November 26 – Alexandria Offers Free Parking at City Garages
On one of the biggest shopping days of the year – Black Friday –  the City of Alexandria is offering free parking in all City-owned garages on Friday, November 26.

Friday, November 26 — AWLA “Black Friday” Pet Adoption Promotion
On Black Friday, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria will reduce adoption prices for all-black or partially-black companion animals. This special includes any companion animal at the League, including guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and other adoptable pets. All League pets are current on vaccinations and have been microchipped and altered.

Wednesday, December 1 – Annual Christmas Tree Sale Begins
The Annual Christmas Tree Sale to benefit the Alexandria Police Youth Camp will begin on December 1. The sale will be ongoing, weeknights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every weekend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., until they are sold out! The sale is held by the Amtrak Station at 110 Callahan Dr.

Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 – Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade
With the fresh scent of heather and the festive melody of bagpipes, get right into the holiday spirit at the 40th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade, sponsored by the Scottish Government. The centerpiece of the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend is the parade through historic Old Town, which celebrates the City’s Scottish heritage and features more than 100 Scottish clans, bagpipe and drum bands, history reenactment groups, dog clubs, and a visit from Santa Claus. The parade begins at 11 a.m.

Friday, December 3 through Sunday, December 5 – 15th Annual Holiday Market at Del Ray Artisans
Stop by the 15th Annual Holiday Market at 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. in Del Ray! The Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from 20 exhibitors, beautiful poinsettias from West Landscapes LLC, and delicious baked goods to benefit the local community. Admission is free. All exhibitors are DRA artist members and all crafts are handmade. The Market will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Friday, December 3 through Sunday, December 5 – Pet Photos with Santa
Santa Claus is coming to town, and that means it’s time to have your pets’ photos made with the jolly man in the red and white suit! The AWLA will hold its annual “Pet Photos with Santa” event December 3-5. Drop-ins are welcome, but residents are encouraged to call 703.746.4774 to make your appointment to ensure a spot for your pet.

Saturday, December 4 – Ornament Decorating Workshop for Families
Get inspired by the colors and patterns of pottery excavated in Alexandria and make a memorable holiday keepsake at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 North Union St. #327, from 1 to 4 p.m. Participants can decorate and take home dough ornaments shaped like artifacts from the museum’s own collection. This free event is great for families! For more information, call 703.746.4399 or visit www.alexandriaarchaeology.org.

Saturday, December 4 – 11th Annual Burke and Herbert Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. Festivities at the Marina (located at the foot of Cameron St.) run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Santa arriving by fireboat at 4:15 p.m. to take free photos with kids and pets. The boat parade begins at 6 p.m.

Friday, December 3 – Holiday on the Avenue in Del Ray
Join us for the Annual Del Ray holiday tree lighting, visit with Santa and enjoy lighting of the luminaries from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Carols begin at 5:45 pm and hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies will be provided. At 6 p.m., sing “Here Comes Santa Claus” when Santa arrives! Santa will lead you down Mt Vernon Ave. to enjoy the luminaries lining the street and then will sit and hear what children want for Christmas. There will be candy canes for the children and photos can be taken on Santa’s lap.

Sunday, December 5 – 13th Annual Women’s Holiday Art Show
Take a break from crowded stores and come to the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St.) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for an afternoon of art, fun, women, and wine, sponsored by the Commission for Women and the Friends of the Commission for Women. Find gifts for everyone on your list and something for yourself! More than 30 exhibitors will display pottery, clothing, scarves, purses, jewelry, crafts, and more. Free refreshments will be served, and raffles will be held. Fifteen percent of the proceeds will be donated by the Friends of the Commission to support Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Alexandria. For more information, contact Lisa Baker at 703.746.5030 or e-mail [email protected].

Sunday, December 5 – Square Dance to Benefit Toys for Tots Drive
The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities and United States Marine Corps Reserve are hosting the 36th annual benefit square and round dance for the United States Marine Corps’ Reserve Toys for Tots drive. Donation per couple is a new unopened toy or a minimum $10 contribution. The event will be held at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St., from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A toy contribution may be dropped off at the Exhibit Hall before 3 p.m. For more information, call the Events Hotline at 703.746.5592 or the Special Events office at 703.746.5418.

Saturday, December 11 – Alexandria Holiday Cheerleading Invitational
Check out the fierce competition among the region’s best cheerleading teams at Alexandria’s Holiday Cheerleading Invitational, held at T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St. beginning at 11 a.m. It is sponsored by the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. For more information, call 703.746.5407 or e-mail [email protected].

Saturday, December 11 – Pre-Kwanzaa Program
Learn about the principles of Kwanzaa, a seven-day cultural celebration that begins December 26 and ends January 1, at a special event from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe St. Brian Sales, who studied with Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, will instruct participants in the basic history of Kwanzaa, provide advice on celebrating Kwanzaa at home, and perform a traditional Libation Ceremony. This event is free and open to all. For more information, call 703.746.4356 or visit www.alexblackhistory.org.

Saturday, December 11 – Christmas in Camp Open House
This family holiday event interprets how Christmas was observed during the Civil War.

Saturday, December 11 – Children’s Kwanzaa Craft Workshop
Jessica Smith, founder of Culture Kingdom Kids, and Kwanzaa educator Pier Penic, will direct children (ages 4-12) and their parents in making Kwanzaa crafts at a workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe St., in the Watson Reading Room. Advance reservations are requested and there is a $5 fee for craft supplies. For more information, call 703.746.4356 or visit www.alexblackhistory.org.

Saturday, December 11 – “The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration” Film Screening
The Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe St.) will host a free screening of the documentary “The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration” from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This landmark film from M.K. Asante uses Kwanzaa to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. Narrated by Maya Angelou, it traces the holiday’s growth out of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s to its present reality as a global holiday embraced by millions worldwide. For more information, call 703.746.4356 or visit www.alexblackhistory.org.

Saturday, December 11 and Sunday, December 12 – Annual Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tours
Special nighttime candlelight tours at Old Town Alexandria’s historic sites are a charming, relaxing break from the fast pace of the season. Tour Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House and the Athenaeum and enjoy seasonal decorations, entertainment and light refreshments. Sunday features kid-friendly tours and a special activity! Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and older), and $5 for children (ages 6-17). Reservations are recommended.

Sunday, December 19 – Holiday Favorites with the Colonial Handbell Ringers
Stop by the Lyceum on 201 South Washington St. and join the Colonial Handbell Ringers as they present their festive holiday musical show! Get into the holiday spirit as you listen and sing along with their performance of holiday classics using a long set of Whitechapel bells. The free event will consist of two one-hour shows, the first at 2 p.m. and then repeated at 4 p.m. For more information, call 703.746.4994 or visit www.alexandriahistory.org.

Friday, December 31 – First Night Alexandria
This New Year’s Eve bash takes place all over Old Town Alexandria, with 100 live performances at 17 venues, the Second Annual Fun Hunt, plus children’s face painting and games; and a multimedia midnight spectacular with fireworks, lasers, video, and music at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Performances start at 7 p.m. and conclude at 11:30 p.m. For more information, including event descriptions and ticket purchasing, visit www.FirstNightAlexandria.org.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Shop Black Friday in Alexandria, VA

Looking for those after Thanksgiving bargains that we have come to know and love but don’t really want to fight the malls?  Why not shop “Black Friday” in Alexandria?  The Old Town Boutique District has just announced the first-ever Shop Local Alexandria Black Friday Sale.

Old Town Boutique DistrictBlack Friday SaleEleven stores will open at 6:00am and will offer big discounts – some as much as 30% store wide.

This is a great way to stay close to home, support your local merchants and enjoy the shops and restaurants of Old Town Alexandria.  In fact, it sounds pretty perfect to me.

Opening with the sun are:

For a complete list of what all the shops in the Old Town Boutique District are offering, click here.
And maybe best of all – parking is free in city-owned lots and garages on Black Friday!
Happy shopping,

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Potomac Yard Development is Underway in Alexandria

The long awaited Potomac Yard development is underway.  In fact, it didn’t take more than a few weeks after final approval was passed by the Alexandria City Council for the bulldozers to move in and the signs to go up.

It’s hard to capture the vast movement of land in these pictures but let’s see if I can walk you through it.  The first picture is the entrance at the intersection of Rt. 1 (Jefferson Davis Hwy) and Monroe Avenue.

Before construction this was a maintenance shop for rental cars and then a maintenance shop/parking lot for city school buses.  Adjacent to it, and running parallel to Rt. 1 were two, if not three, soccer fields.  In other words, it was a very large flat piece of land, at least half of which was covered in macadam.

Picnik Show
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That same space is now marked by a huge mound of leveled off dirt.  We’re not sure where the buses have gone but permanent soccer fields are under construction on the v-shaped parcel of land between the Monroe Street bridge and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park.   This seems a natural addition to an already good sports/recreational complex and we’re looking forward to it.

The final set of pictures is taken from the same Rt. 1, Monroe Street intersection looking north.  Unfortunately I didn’t capture the “before” pictures but just believe me when I say that there was a stand of trees buffeting the bike path on the right from Rt. 1.  What you have now is a clear view, starting at the Monroe Street Bridge, all the way into Crystal City.

This new work will provide infrastructure for the development; look for road construction in the next few months.

On a side note, Edward Jones, a financial services company, is the first retail establishment to take up residence in the mixed use Station at Potomac Yard. Edward Jones is known for establishing offices in neighborhoods and we take this as a sign of the future for Potomac Yard.

Stay tuned,


Related stories:

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

A Civil War Christmas at Alexandria’s Ft. Ward Museum on Dec. 11

A big thank you to neighbor Fox Vernon and his LesDunBelle Diary for alerting us to the Civil War Christmas at Ft. Ward Museum on Dec. 11.

For those of you who would like to combine a bit of history with your holiday festivities (along with a great way to entertain out of town visitors), this family oriented event features a patriotic Santa Claus, living history presentations, Victorian decorations, refreshments, tours and crafts.

We are particularly drawn to this event after attending our first Civil War reenactment in Mt. Pleasant, SC last weekend.  It wasn’t a big battle but the participants did Broadway proud, including a deserter who drew “boos” from the crowd.

In addition to cannons and lots of musket fire, there was a fine display of horsemanship with a preliminary cavalry skirmish.  Before the battle there was a chance to wander the grounds of Boone Hall Plantation, visit with exhibitors and observe the customs of another time.

Civil War Reenactment
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But back to a Civil War Christmas at Alexandria’s Ft. Ward Museum– soldiers and civilian interpreters will welcome the public to winter camps and the Museum, which will be decorated with festive greenery and a Victorian parlor tree.

The Officers’ Hut will be the setting for soldiers opening Christmas boxes from home and sharing how they plan to observe the holiday. Weather permitting, soldier will lead tours of the historic fort.

A Civil War-era Santa Claus, dressed according to a wartime image popularized by artist Thomas Nast, will read “The Night Before Christmas” to children and hear their Christmas wishes. Santa will also visit troops in camp, just as he did on the 1863 cover of Harper’s Weekly. Youngsters can also learn to make their own Christmas cards and ornaments.

Ladies dressed in period attire will serve light refreshments in the Museum and visitors holiday shoppers can browse a variety of Civil War books and “stocking stuffers” in the Museum shop.

The suggested donation is $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Fort Ward is the best-preserved fortification in the Defenses of Washington, which were built to protect the Union capital during the Civil War.

The Museum offers changing exhibits, tours, lectures, and interpretive programs throughout the year.  Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site is located at 4301 West Braddock Road in Alexandria.

For more information about a Civil War Christmas at Ft. Ward, please call the Museum at 703.746.4848 or visit www.fortward.org.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Recycling in Alexandria – What Those New Embedded Chips Really Record

Earlier this year the City of Alexandria announced a new recycling program.  At the heart of the program were new containers with embedded chips.

Goodbye open yellow containers, hello sleek rolling blue cans!

New Recycling BinsTruthfully we didn’t pay much attention to the announcement, nor to the fact that each new container would carry an embedded chip.

It soon became evident however that this embedded chip was the source of great angst for many.  Government conspiracy, a way to raise taxes, invasion of privacy, etc., etc.

Now, thanks to a forum sponsored by Agenda Alexandria and reported by interested neighbors, we offer the following:

The following materials can be recycled:

The following items can NOT be recycled:

And finally, if you think you need/want a smaller/larger container based on your weekly needs, call the Solid Waste Division of the City after Dec. 1 to request a new size.  For more information phone 703.746.4410 or visit alexandria.gov/recycling.


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