Despite a few days’ delay, Red Velvet Bakery and Little Beast Bistro are now set to open at Reston Town Center West on Saturday (September 18).

Initially planning to open earlier this week, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now they “weren’t quite ready” but doors will open at Red Velvet at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The first 200 people at the bakery will receive a free cupcake, Gordon says.

Little Beast Bistro will also officially open that day at 4 p.m..

The restaurant and bistro first announced it’s new 12100 Sunset Hills Road location back in May.

Gordon previously ran the popular Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center. However, that bakery closed more than three years ago largely due to the implementation of paid parking at Reston Town Center.

“We’re extremely excited to be back in Reston after three years away!” he wrote in an email to Reston Now last month. “Red Velvet Bakery is coming back to Reston much stronger.”

The menu at Red Velvet includes a “full array of favorite cupcakes” as well as croissants, cross-cinnamon rolls, butterkuchen, and other pastries. It will be carry-out only, but offer some seating outside.

Little Beast Bistro serves sandwiches, pizza, and Detroit-style pizzas. It has a dining room with about 100 seats, plus 20 seats outside as well as carry-out options.

Photos courtesy of Aaron Gordon Food Group

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With early voting starting later this week, incumbent Ken Plum is facing off against his first Republican challenger, Matt Lang, in a decade for the delegate seat in the 36th District.

“A fresh set of eyes…and a different set of experiences,” Lang tells Reston Now about what he would bring if elected as the representative for the 36th District, which encompasses Reston to Leesburg Pike in Great Falls to Flint Hill Road in Vienna.

He also noted that he “wasn’t exactly comfortable” with much of the legislation being passed by the General Assembly recently.

“We’ve had a lot of people who have been in the same position for a long time… and I figured, ‘why not?,” he says about why he was challenging the long-time incumbent. “Someone needs to stand up.”

Lang announced his candidacy back in January, making him the first Republican to vie for the seat since Hugh Cannon in 2011. Cannon earned only about 36% of the vote and was easily defeated by Plum.

Plum says he believes he’s being challenged this year, both during the primary and the general election, because there’s a perception that he might be retiring soon.

“My suspicion is that there’s a thought in people’s minds that one of these days, I’m actually going to hang it up,” Plum tells Reston Now. “But I will tell you, I have no such plans currently.”

79-year-old Plum (he turns 80 the day after the election) has served as House Delegate for the 36th District since 1982. He’s the longest-serving member in the Virginia House of Delegates. In June, he handily defeated a primary challenge with more than 77% of the vote.

Plum reiterates that he’s not a status quo candidate, but someone that’s made a career vouching for change.

“I think people who review my record realize that I’m a change agent,” he says.

As examples, he cites his work and chairing committees that are pushing to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, reduce greenhouse emissions in the state, requiring universal background check for gun purchases, expanding voting rights, and abolishing the death penalty.

Plum also notes that while the Virginia Clean Economy Act was a huge step forward when signed into law in April 2020, amendments are already needed to broaden energy efficient programs and hasten the move to electric transportation.

If elected, that will be a major priority of his, he says.

“We’ve seen the most progressive legislation ever in Virginia’s history,” Plum says. “Passing laws that are most beneficial to all citizens.”

Lang says he felt compelled to run during the General Assembly’s 2020 special session, when he says a number of bills were passed “haphazardly and rushed,” particularly around law enforcement.

He is former law enforcement himself; he’s a Marine Corps veteran, once worked in the Fairfax County sheriff’s office, and now a security consultant.

“I looked at a lot of the people who work in the [House of Delegates] and realized a lot of these people are making decisions on things they don’t have a lot of experience in,” says Lang. “And I just don’t agree with that.”

He particularly noted the Senate Bill 5032, which eliminates a minimum term of confinement for those charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer (as well as judges, others). However, that bill more or less died in the House.

Lang believes that lawmakers are not taking input from those who “are doing the job every day” and are losing the support of police officers due to that. This includes Plum, he says, who is on the Public Safety Committee.

“[Officers] are upset with the fact that they are not able to do their jobs the way they used to be,” he says about his conversations with law enforcement officers. “It’s not because they don’t want to do the job, it’s the fear that extreme oversight infers in the performance of their work.”

Both candidates understand that schools are going to be on top of voters’ minds this election, no matter if they vote on Friday or November 2.

Earlier this year, both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that mandated in-person schooling for the upcoming school year. However, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) have had a host of challenges since school started a few weeks ago. Now, virtual options are seemingly back on the table.

“Our first priority is to keep schools open for [in-person] learning,” says Plum. “But we need to follow the medical experts about how you do that.” He admits that could mean returning to virtual for a period of time.

Lang, whose own children attend FCPS, says it’s been “a quilt work of policies” and believes it’s important for children to remain in-person at school. He doesn’t think FCPS should be going back to a virtual option.

He’s also not in favor of vaccine mandates, like the one instituted late last month for all FCPS student-athletes. He is vaccinated himself, though, and encourages all to get it if they want to.

I don’t think that it’s fair to force people to get the vaccine,” he says. “There are a myriad of reasons, [could be] a personal choice, could be health-related, could be religious exemptions, you name it.”

When asked why voters should check his name at the ballot box, Plum says because he brings experience, know-how, and understanding to the table.

“I am a known quantity and have been around a long time,” he says. “I believe the values I possess are the values of this district.”

He also noted that he supports Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe for governor.

Lang supports the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, but says he’d reach across the aisle if elected.

“Politicians used to work across the aisle routinely, but in the past, 15, 20 years, it’s become less and less common,” he says.”And that’s a shame.”

He insists that he will always make himself available, listen to everybody, and consider their positions.

“It’s like your family. If you have a large family, you’re not going to get along with everybody,” Lang says. “You have to come to some kind of compromise… otherwise, your family holidays are going to be chaos.”

Early voting starts in Virginia this Friday, September 17, and will continue until election day November 2.

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Rosslyn Jazz Fest 2019 (Photo courtesy of Rosslyn Business Improvement District)

Monday, September 13

  • An International Murals Festival (varies) – D.C. Walls is an international mural festival highlighting public wall art across the city and region. Take a self-guided tour and celebrate the murals that make up the city.

Tuesday, September 14

  • Fermenting Hot Sauce (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) – Head over to maker space NoVa Labs in Reston for a lesson on fermenting your very own hot sauce. The class will teach you about fermenting techniques, styles from across the world, and different types of chilis. You’ll also get a chance to blend your own very small batch sauce.

Wednesday, September 15

  • Country & Western Line Dancing Lesson (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) – Swing your partner round and round at Frying Pan Farm Park. Learn a variety of country and western line dances with the help of the Fairfax County Park Authority. All – singles, partners, and families – are welcome.

Thursday, September 16

  • By the Seashore (10:30 a.m.) – Take a magical journey to the beach in this sensory-filled production at Plenty Amphitheater at Lee District Park in Alexandria. Best for children up to three years old, the show is at an outdoor amphitheater, and runs 20 minutes.

Friday, September 17

  • “Can I Kick It?” Featuring Black Panther (7:30 p.m.) – Gerald Watson and DJ 2-Tone Jones take the 2018 Marvel hit Black Panther to the next level by adding a fresh, new soundtrack alluding to martial arts films of lore. Taking place on the Mason Pond Lawn at George Mason University, the event is open to the public.

Saturday, September 18

  • Alexandria Old Town Art Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – The 19th annual art festival will take place at John Carlyle Square this year. It’s free admission, there’ll be dozens of vendors, and the festival is consistently recognized as one of the top in the area.
  • Buckets N Boards Comedy (5 p.m.) – Take the family to this high energy musical comedy show featuring tap dancing, percussion, and buckets. It will take place in McLean Central Park and run about 90 minutes long.
  • Rosslyn Jazz Fest (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) – One of Arlington’s premier music festivals is back this year with local acts, food, fun and music. Taking place in Gateway Park this year, the 2021 version is a culmination of a series of events in Arlington celebrating jazz. Though the festival is free, registration is strongly encouraged.

Sunday, September 19

  • Korus Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – This celebration of Korean-American culture, music, food, and dance is back and is now set to take place in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot in Tysons Corner Center.
  • Mutts Gone Nuts (7:00 p.m.) – Dogs make for great comedy. Head on over to the Reston Community Center for a dog and comedy show full of tricks, jokes, and barks. As the listing says, the show will leave you “howling” for more.
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Map of the impacted section of the Dulles Airport Access Highway (via MWAA)

Approximately seven miles of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway going westbound will be closed this weekend (Sept. 11 and 12) for maintenance work on pedestrian bridges.

Starting just east of Reston at mile marker 8.3, traffic will be diverted to the left lane of the Dulles Toll Road. Drivers will be able to enter the airport access road again at mile marker 1.7, near the Route 28 toll plaza and right past the soon-to-be-opened Innovation Center Station.

Ramps at mile marker 9 and 3.3 for the westbound portion of the airport access highway will also be closed.

The closures will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

All work is weather-dependent, though weather does not appear it will be a factor this weekend.

This work is being done by contractor Capital Rail Constructors as part of its preparations for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, a Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority official says.

A weekend was chosen to conduct the maintenance work in the hopes of minimizing the closure’s impact on traffic, the MWAA official notes.

Photo via MWAA

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Wiehle-Reston East Garage (via Fairfax Connector)

The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station will be closed during the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24 so crews can work to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line.

This will be the second time in six months that the station has been shut down so the two phases can be tied together after work and tests related to signal infrastructure were not completed in June as expected, necessitating another shutdown.

If the work is completed as hoped this time, it will be a major milestone for the $2.8 billion Silver Line Phase 2 project, potentially putting it on track for substantial completion by November.

The scheduled shutdown was added to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) track work page shortly after officials delivered an update on the project to the WMATA board yesterday (Thursday).

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson Marcia McAllister said in an email to Reston Now that the scheduling of the shutdown for late October is “great news.”

“Now that a date has been set for the service outage needed to allow completion of the tie-in between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Silver Line, the Airports Authority and our contractors can get this essential work done in October and move the project toward substantial completion,” McAllister wrote.

Substantial completion refers to the point when MWAA will be ready to hand the project to WMATA. The authority previously set Labor Day weekend as the deadline but acknowledged in July that it wouldn’t meet that timeline.

At the board meeting, WMATA officials said they were comfortable with MWAA setting a new substantial completion deadline for the end of this year, stating that the work will most likely be finished in November.

If that is the case, Metro will still need another five to six months of operational readiness testing and pre-revenue activities, but that could mean the Silver Line Phase 2 will open to riders by May 2022.

However, in MWAA’s most recent monthly report, the project’s contractor Capital Rail Constructors proposed a substantial date of May 19, 2022, which could push the opening all the way to late 2022. It wasn’t the first time that the two parties disagreed on the project’s schedule.

Shortly after the report was released, though, CRC project executive Keith Couth told Reston Now that there were “opportunities through collaboration” to improve on that date and get it completed much sooner.

When reached for comment, Couch reiterated that they are working to finish by the end of this year.

“We are in the testing phase of the project which is very dependent on coordinating and finalizing testing with MWAA and WMATA, including scheduling of the next outage at Wiehle Avenue and the review of test reports,” Couch said. “In collaboration with MWAA and WMATA, we are working together to improve on the schedule, targeting a substantial completion in Q4.”

With the Wiehle shutdown now scheduled and the contractor supportive of a hoped-for 2021 substantial completion date, Silver Line Phase 2 is seemingly back on track after years of delays that have frustrated local officials, residents, and businesses alike.

“Level F” testing — meaning testing with actual trains — also began late last month and is going well, according to WMATA officials.

The nearly $3 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle-Reston East station west to Ashburn in Loudoun County. In total, six new stations will be added, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon.

Construction began back in 2014 and was originally supposed to finish in 2018.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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Raydean (standing) and Mickey (in chair) Patterson with the Huey (courtesy Hunters Woods at Trails Edge)

Raydean Patterson was visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly when he happened upon a familiar sight: a “Huey” Army helicopter used during the Vietnam War.

“When we came around to [the Huey], there was this real big plaque. I read it and it said it came from the 118th aviation company,” Patterson told Reston Now. “Then, I said ‘I was in that company’ and I looked at the tail and there it was.”

As it turns out, Patterson believes he flew the exact helicopter that the Smithsonian now has on display when he served in the Army during the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. The Huey had a combat record from 1966 to 1970, according to the museum display.

“I was there for like six months, so if it was there, I flew it,” Patterson said. “We didn’t change planes too often, unless they’re a heap of a pile of nothing…and this was in pretty good shape.”

The reunion between pilot and helicopter was seemingly a coincidental one. Until Patterson spotted it on this recent trip, he never knew a Huey he likely flew sat in a museum so close to his home.

While originally from Missouri, 85-year-old Patterson and his wife Mickey, who celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary today (Thursday), moved to Fairfax County several years ago to be closer to family, including their grown son.

The couple now lives at Hunters Woods at Trails Edge in Reston.

Patterson served two tours as a pilot during the Vietnam War, lasting a total of about 19 months. During his second tour, he was wounded in the leg. Overall, he was in the Army from 1958 to 1984, moving 34 different times, and attaining the rank of colonel.

Working as an Army aviator during the war was a tough, frightening job.

“Every morning or overnight when I would go out…I had this little diddy I’d say, ‘God, let me get through this one more time,'” Patterson recalled. “Then, coming back, I’d say a bunch of thanks to God…We had a little help from above.”

He had a somewhat surprising reaction to seeing the helicopter where he spent some of the most anxious moments of his life.

“I had a warm feeling for that piece of metal,” he said. “I liked flying it, though I didn’t like those guys shooting at us.”

Patterson did have a slight urge to go back in time a few decades and reconnect with the Huey.

“I wanted to go over there and crank the thing up,” he said. “And go take it for a ride.”

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To keep school buildings open five days a week, Fairfax County Public Schools has worked with county health officials to develop intricate procedures for handling reported COVID-19 cases, but the school system has been notifying students that they need to pause in-person learning by email, sometimes late in the day.

This has resulted in some students coming to school early the next morning without knowing that they are a close contact of someone who has contracted the coronavirus and shouldn’t be at school that day.

“Due to the quick turnaround of pause notifications, we are aware that students have incorrectly attended school on a small number of occasions, unaware that they should remain at home,” a FCPS spokesperson told Reston Now. “When this occurs, the school administration acts quickly to alert the student and send them home.”

The FCPS spokesperson confirmed that only one email is required to go out, though some follow-up calls are made, if time allows, to confirm that the communication has been received.

“Currently, email notifications go out in eight different languages to ensure non English speaking families are communicated to in their home language,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “Follow-up phone calls, while not currently part of our required notification processes, may be considered as our protocol evolves. Our principals make every effort to reach all our families.”

Earlier this week, Reston Now received a tip from a South Lakes High School teacher that several of their students were in class even though they were sent notifications instructing them to pause in-person learning.

While the students had not directly tested positive for COVID, they were considered close contacts, and under FCPS policies, those students shouldn’t have been in class.

The teacher also says one student who came to their class was “obviously ill,” making them feel unsafe and not confident with school procedures and communications. They are considering their options about returning.

FCPS says teachers are not alerted about these notifications due to privacy concerns, and there is no manual check at the door to see if anyone is entering who shouldn’t be there.

When a student tests positive for COVID-19, principals at each individual school use seating charts to determine who should be considered a close contact, the FCPS spokesperson confirmed.

At that point, the school sends an in-person learning pause notification via email to those close contacts.

A pause typically lasts between one to three days, according to the FCPS website, while the county health department clarifies each student’s vaccination status and completes contact tracing.

The pause takes effect immediately when the notification goes out, the FCPS spokesperson said.

However, if an email goes out in the evening, students and their families might not think to check their email before heading out to school the next morning.

While the notification does go out in nine languages, including English, there remains a possibility that it could not be understood by some.

9% of students at South Lakes High School are “English Learners,” meaning they are learning how to communicate and learn effectively in English. Nearly 30% of Reston residents speak a language other than English at home, according to 2019 census data.

After FCPS sends the initial notification, the Fairfax County Health Department takes over with contact tracing, communicating how long quarantine should be, and providing public health guidance.

Since Aug. 13, South Lakes High School has had seven confirmed positive cases of COVID, according to the FCPS dashboard. This includes three staff and four students.

FCPS has updated its COVID-19 procedures and guidelines over the last week. On Monday (Aug. 30), it announced that all high school students will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in winter and spring school sports.

Just today (Thursday), FCPS said it has worked with the Fairfax County Health Department to speed up the process of identifying students who are fully vaccinated so they can quickly return to in-person learning if they’re identified as a close contact to a positive COVID case.

“We appreciate our community’s patience as we navigate through these challenging times,” the FCPS spokesperson wrote. “As we do our best to provide safe in-person learning, five days a week as mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

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(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Mark Sugden, a familiar face to customers and employees of the Target on Sunset Hills Road in Reston, has died, family and friends have told Reston Now.

Known for his ever-present smile and balloons, Sugden had been a constant sight at the back of the Target parking lot for the last six years. He usually sat on the curb and waved at passersbys, who sometimes stopped to hand Sugden money or groceries.

Sugden had been experiencing homelessness, and a GoFundMe had been set up to help with the costs of staying in a nearby hotel. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, and several other physical limitations, as he told Reston Now back in May.

Despite these challenges, Sugden continued to have a positive attitude.

“He was just a really, down-to-earth, good person. He always treated everybody well,” his brother George Sugden told Reston Now. “[He was] one of those things that’s pretty rare these days — a good soul.”

A memorial and tribute was set up this morning (Thursday) in his honor in front of the Sunoco station on Sunset Hills Road. It’s expected to be there for at least the next few days for those who would like to pay their respects, friend David Ritter tells Reston Now.

There may also be a remembrance service at a later date, but the logistics are still being figured out, Ritter notes.

According to the original GoFundMe page, Sugden died on Aug. 27. The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed the death, though a cause is not immediately known. FCPD does not suspect foul play.

A new fundraiser has been launched to help with funeral costs. The goal is to raise $2,000.

Ritter met Sugden a few years ago and was immediately struck by Sugden’s positivity. He believed that attitude rubbed off on everyone Sugden met.

“It never ceases to amaze me how Mark affected people,” Ritter said.

Once, when it was snowing during the winter, Ritter went to check on Sugden and make sure he had everything he needed. When Ritter arrived, he found a line of cars already waiting to give supplies and food to Sugden.

In May, Reston Now joined Sugden for about an hour at his usual spot between the Target and Sunoco on Sunset Hills Road. Six people in cars stopped to say hello and help him out.

Each time, Sugden greeted them with a wave, a smile, and a thank you.

“Your smile makes me happy,” one woman told Sugden. After she drove away, Sugden said, “I love to see them smile back.”

Over the last several days, both Ritter and George have been hearing from the community about how much Sugden meant to them.

“[From] the stories and the people I’ve met in the last 24 hours, it’s obvious that he touched a lot of people without really going out of his way,” George said. “It was just the way he was.”

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A new art show and sale at Lake Anne Plaza’s Reston Art Gallery and Studios (RAGS) will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts in Nepal.

More than 50 works from Ugandan and Nepali artists will be on display and on sale starting tomorrow (Wednesday) through Thursday (Sept. 2) with a reception tomorrow at 5 p.m.

The show is being presented by Scott DeLisi, the former U.S. ambassador to both Uganda and Nepal, and his organization Engage Nepal. Proceeds will go toward funding a pediatric intensive care unit in a Nepal hospital that will help care for young COVID patients.

“Nepal has been devastated, so we are doing all we can to help,” DeLisi wrote in the press release. “This includes the sale of these wonderful paintings and photos donated by a variety of artists, including many from Uganda who truly wanted to help the people in Nepal in a time of need. I met those artists when I served as Ambassador in Uganda and was so touched by their kindness and concern.”

Currently, the hospital has constructed the ward with beds, and the local government has provided two ventilators, DeLisi elaborated to Reston Now in an email.

“But much remains to do,” he noted.

The show and fundraiser are being held in Reston thanks to local artist and former Foreign Service officer Rosemarie Forsythe, whose month-long show “Illuminations” is set to debut at the Reston Art Gallery on Sept. 3.

“I learned about Engage Nepal through a former Foreign Service colleague who is on the board of directors,” Forsythe said in the release. “I spent over a decade as a Foreign Service officer in the late 1980s to late 1990s. I like to think that this event is my way of showing appreciation for the time I enjoyed traveling, hiking and mountain climbing in Nepal.”

RAGS Director Pat Macintyre said she is “honored” to host the event.

“All artists are world artists, and we are honored to host this event and help raise awareness of this global concern,” Macintyre wrote. “We hope that our community of Reston and beyond will enjoy Engage Nepal’s art show and support the work of this important organization.”

Artworks that will be featured in the show include a painting of the African Cape buffalo, Ugandan wooden sculptures, and works from artist Lima Mugalu.

“[She’s] one of the most active female artists in Uganda,” DiLisi told Reston Now. “She paints women celebrating weddings, at introduction ceremonies, and in other social interactions using mixed media, acrylics and fabrics.”

Prices range from $50 to $850. Monetary donations will also be accepted.

DiLisi says that he’s touched by the gallery’s willingness to host the show and sale.

“I have to say…that the community spirit of everyone associated with Reston Art Gallery has touched me,” DiLisi said. “Their willingness to act to help kids in need in Nepal has been heartwarming.”

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Starting over Labor Day weekend, transfers between Metro trains and Fairfax Connector buses will be free.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said yesterday (Monday) it has partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to provide free transfers on nearly all Connector bus routes beginning on Sunday (Sept. 5).

This lines up with Metro’s new policy of also offering free bus transfers, which was first announced earlier this month.

“Fairfax Connector has historically aligned fare policies with Metrobus and by doing so, helps create a seamless experience for users when moving between transit services provided by WMATA and the County,” FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger wrote in an email. “That’s why we are partnering with WMATA to extend their program to Fairfax Connector bus service to provide good customer service and provide incentives to ride transit.”

The two exceptions will be the Fairfax Connector Express Service and the Wolf Trap shuttle. Both will be discounted by $2, though, with the use of WMATA’s SmarTrip card or app.

This is a pilot program that will operate for the next 10 months, through early July 2022, Geiger says.

Fairfax Connector serves all Metro stations located in Fairfax County. This will include all Silver Line Phase 2 stations once those open, Geiger confirms.

Additionally, the Wolf Trap shuttle will start again operating on Sept. 5. The shuttle runs between the West Falls Church Metro station and Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center.

The new policy is part of a larger push to encourage increased ridership on the Fairfax Connector as schools, offices, and other public places reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hope that when people go back to their workplaces, they consider returning to or trying transit for the first time,” writes Geiger. “Now, is the time to ride because the free transfer from Fairfax Connector to Metrorail or from Metrorail to Fairfax Connector saves money and because Fairfax Connector continues to provide a safe and healthy environment on buses.”

In May, county officials said they were reviewing possibly reducing or even eliminating fares altogether on the Fairfax Connector.

To help with this, the county was planning to apply for grant funds from Virginia’s Transit Ridership Incentive Program. The application deadline for the program is Sept. 17. Geiger says there’s currently no additional information on the possibility of reducing or eliminating fares.

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The St. James sports complex in Springfield (courtesy SportsNOVA)

Fairfax County has joined three other Virginia localities to create SportsNOVA, a marketing partnership aimed at promoting Northern Virginia as a destination for sporting events.

As the county’s official tourism organization, Visit Fairfax announced on Aug. 10 that it has aligned with the marketing arms of Loudoun, Prince William, and Strafford counties to promote and pitch the region.

The agencies believe the location, availability of already-built venues, and accessibility of public transportation make Northern Virginia an ideal place for sports tournaments, events, and championships.

Eric Kulczycky, Visit Fairfax’s national sales manager, says sports can be a huge economic driver for a region, and he hopes that this partnership can help better capture those dollars.

“[Sporting events] can generate taxes and jobs,” he said. “Through visitor spending like hotel stays, eating at restaurants, buying tickets to [events]…Our mission is to generate additional spending and get new money coming into our communities.”

There is evidence that sports drive considerable economic activity. One 2019 study conducted by a sports tourism trade association found that 180 million trips were made in the U.S. for sporting events — from youth to professional leagues — with more than half of those trips being overnight.

Visitors who stayed overnight spent $359 per person on average.

Northern Virginia has hosted a number of large sports events in recent years, including the 2015 World Police & Fire Games, the 2017 Senior PGA Championship, and a Kayak Bass Fishing tournament this past May.

The hope, Kulczycky says, is to entice more events of this nature, like regional hockey tournaments and more senior-centric sporting events.

One of the main selling points is that the county and region have a number of available venues, several of which are relatively new.

The St. James complex in Springfield opened in 2018 and has a multitude of facilities, including four NBA-size basketball courts, two NHL-size rinks, a 50-meter Olympic pool, and indoor turf fields.

There is also George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena, which is on the verge of a major renovation. Elsewhere, there is Segra Field, which opened in Loudoun County two years ago, and the Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center in Stafford, which was also only completed a few years ago.

Kulczycky says there have been preliminary conversations in Fairfax County about opening additional indoor and outdoor sporting complexes as well.

Not every Northern Virginia locality is part of this partnership. Notably, Arlington County isn’t in the consortium. Kulczycky says Arlington officials have not been currently actively pursuing the sports tourism market, but there’s an “open invitation” for them to join.

Kulczycky says the decision to combine forces with other localities was due to the realization that being together was better.

“There are multi-sport and large single-sport events that Fairfax County simply cannot host unless we secure facilities in other jurisdictions,” he said.

Plus, Kulczycky notes that a combined marketing campaign is more cost-effective.

SportsNOVA is simply an extension of what Fairfax County and Northern Virginia has been trying to do separately for years.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and there’s always been an interest in hosting sports tournaments in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia,” Kulczycky said. “So, we’re just continuing to look to expand opportunities in the sports market.”

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Mary Ann Flynn, a long-time Fairfax County Public School teacher and community leader, died last week at the age of 85.

Flynn was an educator at Hunters Woods, Dogwood, and Terraset elementary schools for more than two decades, primarily teaching first grade. She was among the first teachers at Dogwood and Terraset, when that school first opened in 1977, her family says.

“She used to say she loved teaching first grade because she could still do the math,” daughter Merri Flynn told Reston Now. “Really, it was because…it was the year she got to see such huge improvement because it was the year that most children learned to read. And she really loved being able to help them learn to read.”

She was beloved as a teacher. Her son Christopher attended Terraset while his mother taught there and has received notes with fond remembrances from former students all week.

“You can’t get away with a whole lot [at school] when your mom’s down the hall,” Christopher said. “A lot of people I went to school with remember her as a teacher.”

The family says “dozens of folks” have commented on a post they made on Facebook about Flynn, who was loved by family and pupils because of her compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and listening skills.

“I think people felt comfortable with her because she was quiet and an excellent listener,” Merri said. “She was always interested in what people were saying about their lives and she would remember details.”

She also loved sharing and seeing photos of loved ones.

“She was one of those rare people who really loved seeing pictures of other people’s family, especially babies and children,” Merri said with a laugh.

After spending time in San Francisco, D.C., and Norfolk, Flynn and her husband Tom, a Naval officer, settled in Reston in 1970. It became their home for the next several decades.

Even after Flynn retired as a public school teacher in 1992, the couple remained very active in the Reston community. The Flynns helped out at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, running its Angel Christmas and Birthday Club. Both of these programs worked through the local nonprofit Cornerstones to provide gifts to children.

The couple was honored by the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 for their community service efforts.

Flynn also assisted with weddings at the church, sometimes walking up and down the aisles.

“She wanted to make sure no one was chewing gum,” Merri Flynn said.

As a mother and grandmother, she was always present.

“She had a big smile whenever anyone she loved entered the room,” Thomas Flynn, Mary Ann’s grandson, said. “She just made you feel very special whenever you were talking to her. There was a kind of beam shining on you because everything was just about you.”

Flynn’s commitment to education went beyond her career. She helped to set up a library at Falcons Landing, a military retirement community in Potomac Falls that she and her husband moved into in 2014.

“She was a lifelong educator, but she did it in a really gentle way,” Merri said. “She never talked down to someone or made them feel less than.”

According to those who knew her, Flynn’s defining quality was her dedication to being an advocate for her family and students.

“She was your champion,” Merri said. “She always had your back.”

Mary Ann Flynn is survived by her husband Tom, three children, and two grandsons, Andrew and Thomas. Her death was preceded by that of her parents and a son, Thomas Edward Flynn IV.

The visitation and funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Aug. 31) at St. John Neumann Catholic Church at 11900 Lawyers Road, starting at 10 a.m.

The burial will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, where Flynn will join her son Thomas.

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Lake Anne Jazz and Blues Festival (via Charlotte Geary Photography)

Monday, August 30

  • Take Me Out To The Ball Game (5 p.m.) — Join the Reston Association for a night at Nats Park. All are welcome to grab a ride on the bus (pick-up at 12001 Sunset Valley Drive) and head to the ballpark. Seats are under cover and snacks/drinks are welcomed on the bus.

Tuesday, August 31

  • Owl Prowl (8:30-9:30 p.m.) — Head out to Potomac Regional Park in search of the barred owl, Northern Virginia’s most frequently-observed owl. Listen closely to hear their call which sounds a lot like the owl saying “”Whooooo cooks for youuuu?”

Wednesday, September 1 

  • Yarn-aholics (7 p.m.) — Calling all knitting, crochet, and yarn enthusiasts, head over to George Mason Library in Annandale for a yarn meet-up. Discuss projects, learn from one another, and share yarn!

Thursday, September 2

  • Evening Under the Stars (6 p.m) — Peer into the night sky at the George Mason University Observatory. Hear from experts and glance through the state-of-the-art telescopes to see the stars. Note, stargazing might be cancelled if atmospheric conditions do not allow for viewing.

Friday, September 3

  • Broadway in the Park (8 p.m.) — Wolf Trap National Park celebrates the return of live theater and Broadway with their own special show, featuring performances from Hamilton’s Renée Elise Goldsberry and Tony Award-winning Brian Stokes Mitchell. Plus, a few favorites from Arlington’s Signature Theater as well.

Saturday, September 4

  • Arlington Festival of the Arts (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) — This two-day arts festival in Clarendon is back on with artists across the country coming to show and sell their wares. Masks must be worn inside the festival at all times.

Sunday, September 5

  • Ghost Hunting Tour (8:30 p.m.) — Start the spooky season off early with this ghostly tour in old town Manassas. The “Ghost Doctors” lead the tour through this centuries-old town, while looking and, perhaps even, interacting with spirits.
  • Virginia Scottish Games (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) — Piping competitions, terrier races, highland dance, and fiddling performances are just a few of the competitions that are taking place at this year’s Virginia Scottish Games. Head 40 minutes west from Reston for a day’s worth of athletic competitions, bagpipes, and whiskey.
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Reston history will take center stage at the 19th annual Reston Home Tour on Oct. 16.

This year’s tour will feature five houses, including the first home built on Lake Thoreau (before the lake was even there), a work by Restonian architect Ken Bonner, and the Craftsman-inspired The Kensington Reston that overlooks the 11th fairway of Reston National Golf Course.

The tour is hosted by the Reston Museum and is self-guided. Each ticket includes a guide book with descriptions and a map. A boxed lunch will be available for purchase at The Kensington, a local assisted living community.

Additionally, the museum will be open to the public with its newest exhibit “Early Reston Home Interiors” on display.

Masks are required on the tour, and tickets are available now for $30, though museum members can get tickets at a discounted price. Docents and volunteers are still needed.

Reston Museum Executive Director Alex Campbell says it’s wonderful to have the home tour back after it was canceled last year.

“The Reston Home Tour is an important event as it showcases the creativity and ingenuity that Restonians implement within their home through modern renovations,” she wrote in an email to Reston Now. “…The tour is a reminder that not only did Reston begin as a community that embraced architectural variety and modern design, it is still today a community where Restonians pursue modern and forward-thinking design for their homes.”

It is the Reston Museum’s biggest fundraisier and one of its most popular events, Campbell notes.

The Reston Museum reopened to visitors about a year ago after being closed for a number of months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 24-year-old museum has embraced the digital world in order to stay afloat.

Staff have started to do more in-person events recently, including an outdoor “Storytime for Little Historians.”

Campbell says the home tour is an “an important contributor in supporting our mission to preserve and share Reston’s history.”

Previous iterations of the Reston Home Tour have showcased a five-decade-old Dutch Colonial and a 1960s Hickory Cluster townhouse.

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Red Velvet Bakery and Little Beast Bistro will open at Reston Town Center West on Sept. 15.

First announced in May, the bakery and bistro now have an official opening date for their new location at 12100 Sunset Hills Road after passing a health inspection, getting a liquor license, and obtaining necessary permits, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now.

Gordon previously ran Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center, but the venue closed more than three years ago mostly due to Boston Properties instituting paid parking.

He always envisioned returning to Reston, though.

“We’re extremely excited to be back in Reston after three years away!” he wrote in an email to Reston Now. “Red Velvet Bakery is coming back to Reston much stronger.”

He says the menu will include a “full array of favorite cupcakes,” along with new items like croissants, cross-cinnamon rolls, butterkuchen, and other pastries.

The bakery will be carry-out with 10 to 12 seats outdoors and a separate, side entrance.

Alongside Red Velvet will be Little Beast Bistro, a sandwich and pizza concept also from Gordon. They will share kitchens but will have separate storefronts, much like how it is at the Chevy Chase location.

Little Beast, which will have about 100 seats inside and 20 outside, will serve Detroit-style pizza, sandwiches, and pasta. It will also have a full bar and cocktail bar.

These ventures were partially supported by crowdfunding. Gordon raised more than $46,000 with a campaign through MainVest that launched in May, allowing those interested to invest in the restaurants in exchange for perks like owner hats, customized beer stein, and cupcakes for life.

The restaurants are taking the space formerly occupied by Famous Toastery, which closed in March.

Back in May, Gordon said they were seeking a pre-built, second-generation space that could be open on a quicker timeline. He called the location at Reston Town Center West “ideal” because of all the new development and the eventual arrival of a Metro station across the street.

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