Herndon Police Believe Sexual Assault Suspect Had More Victims — Detectives with the Herndon Police Department believe other people may have been victimized by a man they charged with aggravated sexual battery on June 30, according to a tweet. At the time of his arrest, the victim in the case told police that Carlos Morales López, 55, gave her a massage in the 800 block of Sycamore Court when he sexually assaulted her. [Patch]
Police Investigate South Lakes Bank Robbery — Police officers were dispatched to BB&T in the South Lakes Village Shopping Center yesterday morning (Tuesday) after a man reportedly entered the bank, grabbed the manager, and demanded cash before leaving the area on foot. No injuries were reported, and detectives are continuing to investigate the incident, which is the second time the branch has been robbed this year. [FCPD]
Free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at Reston Station Tomorrow — Reston Station will host a second COVID-19 vaccination clinic next to Founding Farmers (1904 Reston Metro Plaza) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday). Anyone who visits the clinic to get their first dose will receive $15 gift cards to Starbucks and Big Buns Damn Good Burgers. Second Pfizer doses will be administered on Sept. 14 and 16. [Reston Station/Twitter]
Reston Community Center Starts ESports League — Embracing a trend that is also coming to Fairfax County Public Schools, Reston Community Center is teaming up with the platform GGLeagues to launch an esports program this fall. Players will compete from home using their own consoles and can choose from a variety of games. Each league will run for six weeks starting on Oct. 4, and registration will be open until Sept. 22. [RCC]
“While we have reinvented many of our programs since March of 2020, offering virtual and socially distanced options, it was impossible to convert some of our most popular programs to that format,” RCC Director of Leisure and Learning Karen Brutsché said. “We know our patrons are eager to socialize with their friends at their favorite RCC activities.”
Registration is now open for both Reston and non-Reston residents:
- Bridge — Players with intermediate or advanced knowledge of Bridge are invited to play on Mondays at Hunters Woods (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Tuesdays at Lake Anne (10 a.m.-1 p.m.). These games are free to attend.
- Trips — Day trips organized by RCC this fall include the Museum of the Bible (Sept. 16), the International Spy Museum (Oct. 14), Toby’s Dinner Theatre (Nov. 17), and more. Prices vary depending on the trip.
- American Mah Jongg — Open to American mahjongg players on Wednesdays (1:15-3:45 p.m.) and Thursdays (9:30 a.m.-noon) at Hunters Woods. These games are free to attend.
The shift to advance registration for drop-in programs was an initially temporary change prompted by the need to limit crowds during the pandemic, but RCC decided to make it permanent after seeing how the appointment system eliminated conflicts over space for its most popular activities.
RCC also still has some safety precautions in place, including the continued availability of touchless hand sanitizers and virtual programming. Masks are required for everyone when indoors in accordance with Fairfax County’s recently reinstated policy for public facilities.
Some Fairfax County student athletes won’t be headed to courts or fields this winter, but instead, to computer labs, as the 10th largest school district in the country prepares to launch an esports program.
The Fairfax County Public Schools athletic director detailed the new initiative to Tysons Reporter, saying the new program will connect students in high schools through a popular, soccer-like game — in which players drive futuristic cars — called Rocket League.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for our students,” said Bill Curran, director of the FCPS Office of Student Activities and Athletics, noting how students will have another way to fit in. “I think we’re going to have 25 highly competitive schools in the esports realm.”
While concerns about students’ screen time have persisted, even as the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to adopt virtual learning, competitive online gaming has become increasingly popular, with both high schools and colleges getting in on the esports action.
The market research firm Newzoo reported in March that esports viewership increased from nearly 398 million people globally in 2019 to nearly 436 million in 2020 and could potentially reach 474 million this year.
The NCAA governing board voted in April 2019 against bringing esports under its purview, even as the association noted the rapid growth of esports on NCAA campuses.
“You’re going to see this ball roll faster and faster,” Curran said.
ESPN launched a new initiative to cover esports in 2016, though it shut the division down last year. In 2018, it became the first TV network to air a professional gaming contest in prime time for the cartoon-style multiplayer online battle game League of Legends.
YouTube and Twitch have also streamed content that’s worth billions of dollars and expected to grow annually, though that’s just a small slice of the video game industry.
The Virginia High School League, which governs sports, activities, and competitions in public schools throughout the Commonwealth, introduced esports as a pilot program in 2019 before approving it as an “emerging activity” for the 2020-2021 school year that could become sanctioned as an official VHSL activity.
Fairfax County Public Schools is currently looking for coaches to participate in its esports program, which has been in the works for more than two years and will operate under its Activities and Athletics office. Some teachers have already shown interest in helping, according to Curran.
Students will have to pay a $64 fee each season through a startup company PlayVS, which provides computer games and requires students to maintain eligibility through grades and attendance. FCPS is looking at ways to prevent the fee from becoming a barrier to participation.
With schools expected to open for in-person learning five days a week this fall, FCPS plans to have students participate in existing computer labs, rather than remotely. Like a traditional sports team, Curran says Fairfax County’s esports teams will likely have jerseys.
“Our kids, you know, they’re already playing the games,” Curran said. “They’re ready to go, and they’re eager for us to start this.”
Photo via Alex Haney/Unsplash
Monday, April 19
- Game Design Workshop (5:30 p.m.) — Local nonprofit Game Genius, an organization focused on creating games for social good, is holding their Play Week. Join staff member Peter Williamson for an interactive virtual workshop on designing your own game using accessible tools.
- Owl Prowl (8 p.m.) — Bask in the night and listen for the call of the barred owl, the region’s most frequently observed (and heard) owl. Meet at Potomac Regional Park in Arlington as the sun sets for a hike to find these nocturnal birds.
Tuesday, April 20
- Become a Community Scientist (6-7 p.m.) — The City Nature Challenge is now ongoing, asking citizens across the world to track biodiversity in their home cities. Join Jackie Raiford, Montgomery Parks naturalist, as she teaches how to participate and helps make you a community scientist in your own backyard.
Wednesday, April 21
- Theater Sports (4 p.m.) — Have a little fun over Zoom with theater sports, which are short improv games. Intended to be quick and funny, theater sports allows all to let their inner actor come out.
Thursday, April 22
- Earth Day Project (1-4 p.m.) — Celebrate Earth Day by beautifying the Walker Nature Center. Help by adding new planting or laying down fresh woodchipped trails at the nature center.
- Meteor Shower (4:07 a.m.) — For the next two weeks, the Lyrid meteor shower is streaking across area skies. The perfect time to see it is at its peak, which happens to be at 4:07 in the morning. So, get up early, look to the sky, and be amazed by meteors.
Friday, April 23
- Fighting Injustice (7 p.m.) — Join this virtual conversation with three young adult authors — Angeline Boulley, Tiffany D. Jackson, Sara Faring — talking about their books, solving mysteries, and fighting injustice with writing. The event is sponsored by Reston’s Scrawl Books.
Saturday, April 24
- Trick the Stick (11:30 a.m.) — Head off to Lake Fairfax to find the perfect walking stick for those spring hikes. Once you find the perfect one, decorate it, take it home, and use it next time hitting any of the county’s 300 hiking trails.
- Rosslyn Flower Market (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) — For the next three weekends, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is hosting a flower market. Stock up on flowers, seeds, and plants in a socially distanced manner.
Sunday, April 25
- Paw-Paw Prowl (5:30 p.m.) — Take a walk around Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly to learn about the importance of the paw-paw fruit in Virginia’s history. While the paw-paw isn’t in season yet (typically, late summer/early fall), get a head start on knowing where to find these unique fruits.
Photo via Peter K Burian/Wikimedia
If the prospect of trillions of cicadas emerging from the earth fills you with excitement, Fairfax County’s official tourism organization has just the game for you.
Visit Fairfax has introduced a Cicada Stroll Bingo card where participants can mark off squares when they take photos of a cicada at certain locations for a chance to win insect-inspired prizes.
“While some may view the arrival of the Brood X cicadas as a nuisance, we here at Visit Fairfax choose to look at it as an exceptional opportunity for visitors and residents to witness one of Earth’s most remarkable natural occurrences – and have fun at the same time!” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar wrote in the press release.
Suggested sites to spot cicadas range from pieces of public art like Patrick Doughtery’s “Bird in Hand” in Reston Town Square Park to the Sully Historic Site in Chantilly. Other boxes to check include county hiking trails, shopping centers, a brewery or winery, near water, and at a restaurant (hopefully, not on your food).
Anyone who fills out two squares in their bingo card, plus the traditional “free” square in the center, can upload the card and accompanying photos for a chance to get a Cicada Care package with items like a custom cicada facemask.
Winners will be announced in May, and some of the best photos will be featured on the county’s blog and social media.
The Cicada Bingo Card was conceived as a way to showcase “road trip travel” and encourage folks to visit outdoor county attractions safely in a “quirky kind of way,” Visit Fairfax spokesperson Ali Morris says.
She adds that this is also another way to encourage residents to visit and support their favorite local business as they recover from an extremely rough last year.
The D.C. region is expected to be the epicenter for the emergence of Brood X, a brood of cicadas that emerge only every 17 years. They spend their larva years underground, which is anywhere from two to 17 years, chowing down on tree roots.
There could be millions of them buzzing around in the area in the early summer. They’re extremely loud, thanks to the sound that the males produce by rubbing their legs together to attract potential mating partners.
While they are also big as far as insects go, they’re completely harmless. In fact, their long life cycles and the fact that they are so numerous are really their only defense mechanisms from predators.
The Brood X cicadas are expected to hit peak emergence in Northern Virginia in late May through early June. While they’ll be visible and audible everywhere, parks and other natural settings will be the best place to see and hear them.
They are also edible, to an extent.
“A few are not likely to hurt pets but too many could cause digestive issues,” Fairfax County Park Authority naturalist Tammy Schwab told Reston Now last month. “They are edible by people if you’re brave enough to try it.”
Photo courtesy Visit Fairfax
Nostalgia might just be a common theme at an upcoming game night hosted by the Reston Historic Trust & Museum.
At the Retro Game Night on Friday (Feb. 28), attendees can gather with friends and family to play a variety of games from 6-9 p.m. at 1639 Washington Plaza, according to a press release.
More than a dozen games provided by Staring Player Pop-Up will be available for guests, the press release said, adding that people are also welcome to bring their own games.
This event is free and open to all ages. Attendees will receive a “The Game of Reston” poster, according to the press release.
Photo courtesy Reston Historic Trust & Museum
Joining the latest and greatest at Ballston Quarter, 5 Wits officially opened for business earlier last month, bringing its unique style of interactive entertainment to the Arlington area.
Located in a 15,000 square foot facility within the mall, 5 Wits creates deeply immersive, theme park-style adventure experiences. Guests travel through real, physical environments, interacting with their surroundings through challenges, puzzles and elaborate special effects.
Each adventure tells its own story, with its guests’ performance deciding the outcome: the ending actually changes depending on how well its participants perform.
While the technology that runs this massive $2 million venue is cutting edge, the company behind it isn’t exactly new — in fact, 5 Wits is celebrating its 15th year in business. Its arrival in Ballston Quarter signals a shift toward entertainment-based offerings that set the redeveloped center apart as a destination.
“5 Wits is excited to bring our adventures to the Arlington area in such a unique and dynamic project. Ballston Quarter is curating an experience that the community is going to love,” says Frank Cerio, the company’s COO.
As Nothern Virginia’s newest dining, shopping and entertainment destination, the revitalized Ballston Quarter’s focus on experiential entertainment retailers continues well beyond 5 Wits. Offerings like play space Nook, entertainment complex Punch Social Bowl and Onelife Fitness compliment new expansive gathering spaces and fresh retail and culinary brands.
Community members and visitors are invited to experience the new heart of Ballston with continued openings, spring and summer holiday celebrations and seasonal programming that make Ballston Quarter a year-round community experience.