Reston, VA

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and with that brings closures around the county. Let’s take a look at what’s open, and what’s closed.

All Fairfax County Government offices will be closed on Nov. 26 and 27 for the holiday. 

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on a Sunday service on Thursday, and a holiday weekday service on Friday. 

Fairfax County Public Schools provided seven-day meal kits for Thanksgiving week, which were available for pickup through Nov. 24. 

In Herndon, all trash collection is halted for the holiday, and all trash usually collected Thursday will be collected today. 

Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. the day after. However, RCC Lake Anne will be closed both days. 

All Fairfax County parks will be closed on Thanksgiving, but all RECenters are open until noon. The day after Thanksgiving, the RECenters will be running normal hours and Frying Pan Farm Park will open its farm and indoor area. 

Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani/Unsplash

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This holiday season, Fairfax County Police Department’s Victim Services is raising donations for children of victims involved in violent crimes.

Victim Services at FCPD supports victims’ families in many ways, according to Supervisor of Hunter Mill District Walter Alcorn. This holiday season, the division will be working to eliminate some of the financial hardship for some families.

“The Fairfax County Police Department’s Victim Services Division provides critical services to child victims and witnesses of domestic and sexual violence,” Alcorn wrote in a recent newsletter.” Many of these children will not get to celebrate holidays this year due to the financial burden that comes with being a victim of crime.”

FCPD is accepting gift cards from stores for children of all ages, Alcorn says, from stores including:

  • Giant
  • Target
  • Safeway
  • Walmart
  • TJ Maxx
  • Kohl’s
  • Local restaurants
  • Other clothing stores

Gift cards can be dropped off at the Reston District Police Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) or mailed to the station addressed as:

C/O Victim Services/ PFC Horita

Reston District Police Station

1801 Cameron Glen Drive
Reston, VA 20190

For more information about FCPD’s Victim Services, visit its website.

Photo via the Fairfax County Government website

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In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, Fairfax County Emergency Information released a list of guidelines with information on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.

The county emphasized it’s still vital to work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Despite the cold months and inevitable pandemic fatigue, community members can’t let their guards down now, health officials say.

The county’s seven-day average of cases is creeping up. On Nov. 2, the weekly case count was the highest since mid-June when an average of 137 cases was recorded on June 12. Now, that number has increased to nearly 134 weekly cases.

According to the guidelines, high-risk activities include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving,
  • Participating in or spectating a crowded race.
  • Attending crowded parades.
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends in your community.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchids where people use hand sanitizer before touching produce, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and people can maintain social distancing.
  • Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.

Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with people who live in your household.
  • Having virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Preparing recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to in-person.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.

The county also advises not participating in in-person activities if you or anyone in your household has or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. They advise following the CDC’s recommendations on holiday gatherings to further lower risk. Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

Photo via Unsplash

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Cornerstones has opened registration for its annual Gifts for Kids drive. The program is running concurrently with the Thanksgiving Food Drive this year to reduce interactions in the midst of the pandemic. 

Gifts for Kids aims to provide gifts for underprivileged kids in the community during the holiday season. In COVID-19 times, their mission to deliver holiday spirit remains especially important. 

In lieu of physical gifts, families will be receiving gift cards instead to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers, recipients and staff, according to the organization’s website. The drive will also be running five days, giving donors more time to donate and reducing the number of people dropping off at one time. 

Cornerstones will have social distancing measures and other COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the drives, including cutting down the number of volunteers at a time, requiring masks and temperature checks for volunteers, and having much of the work done outside. 

Additionally, families will drop off items by a drive-through instead of dropping off donations inside. 

The organization will be accepting gift card donations at St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Road) on November 16 through November 19 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and November 20 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

Those interested in donating can fill out the registration form on their website. Cornerstones will be distributing personalized gift card wish lists during the week of Oct. 1. 

Photo by Element 5 Digital/Unsplash

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Labor Day is this Monday, Sept. 7, and with the holiday comes closures throughout Fairfax County. 

Fairfax County Government offices will be closed, according to the government website, as well as Herndon town offices. The Herndon Community Center, while finally open again with reservations, will be closed on Labor Day. The Reston Community Center will also be closed. 

Fairfax County Public Schools will be observing the holiday, with school starting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

All parks in Fairfax County will be closed except for the Frying Pan Farm Park Farm and the Frying Pan Farm Park Indoor Area.

Recyclables will not be collected in Herndon, according to a message from the Town of Herndon. Any recyclables normally collected on Mondays will instead be collected on Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

The Fairfax Connector will be open and operating on Sunday service.

The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. 

The Metrorail will operate from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., and the Metrobus will run on a Sunday schedule

Photo by Aral Tasher/Unsplash

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With Passover and Easter quickly approaching, religious organizations and state officials are encouraging people to find alternatives to large group celebrations.

Easter Sunday falls on April 12 and Passover begins on Thursday (April 9) and ends on April 16 this year — around when statisticians hypothesize COVID-19 will peak in the D.C. area.

To obey state mandates and keep their followers healthy, religious groups such as St Joseph Catholic Church and the Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon decided to host celebrations digitally and provide guides for stay-at-home worship.

For Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, while Passover is a Jewish holiday to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses.

Fairfax County released a statement reminding people that it is illegal to gather in groups of 10 or more and requested that people celebrate at home with immediate family members.

“Consider the use of technology to gather people virtually in your home to have shared meals,” the statement said. “Through various media platforms, communal sharing and celebration of religious observances can continue while keeping each other safe.”

Similar recommendations will be in place for Ramadan, which begins later in the month.

The Virginia Department of Health also released a public service announcement, primarily echoing Fairfax County’s statement.

“While the Passover Seder often includes extended family and friends, it is by tradition a ceremony of the home,” the Virginia Department of Health said. “The essence of the Seder can be the same: sitting with your family around the dining room table to remember the exodus.”

“The purpose of Jumu’a is to gather the entire community together in one place for prayer and since that cannot be done safely, imams are asking each person to pray in their own home,” according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The New York Times published an article exploring how added stress from the pandemic might influence people’s mindsets and emotions during the spring holiday season.

The article’s author encouraged readers to celebrate through family activities like video chatting, reading to one another, playing games and signing.

Congregation Beth Emeth held it’s first digital Passover celebration this morning and will host another tomorrow (April 9) at 9 a.m., the website link. People can tune in at the link listed on the group’s website, which also listed places locals can order kosher groceries and celebratory supplies.

St Joseph Catholic Church is hosting an online Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night (April 11) at 8:30 p.m. as well as an Easter morning Mass in Spanish at 12 p.m. and English at 10 a.m. Links can be found on the church’s website.

Photo via Olivia Snow/Unsplash

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(Updated 2/14/2020) Presidents’ Day is Monday and that means closures around the area.

All Fairfax County government offices, public schools and public libraries will be closed, according to the county website.

Trash and recycling will be collected on a regular schedule if community members are customers of Fairfax County, the website said, which added that people with a private company should contact the company directly.

Both Reston community centers at Lake Anne and Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Monday, according to the website.

In the Town of Herndon, recycling will be collected on Tuesday (Feb. 18) instead of Monday, the town’s website said.

The Herndon Community center will be open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., according to the site, which added that its government offices will be closed.

Regarding public transportation, the Fairfax Connector will be running on a Holiday Weekend Schedule on Monday.

The Metro will be running on a Saturday schedule from 5 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., according to the WMATA website.

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This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Since many of her friends had told her there was no Santa, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon had no idea when she wrote to the editor of the New York Sun asking if there was a Santa Claus that his editorial response to her would become the most quoted newspaper editorial ever. The editor’s response to her question was “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

For residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia the question has arisen with the announcement of every biennial budget, Is there a Santa Claus who can provide the resources for making progress in the state? The answer last week was clearly, “Yes!” and his name is Governor Ralph Northam. The Governor presented a budget for the next two years that will warm many hearts and respond to many unmet needs.

Among the many improvements in programs and services, Governor Northam observed “But perhaps the smartest investment we can make is in our children and their education.” His budget proposals include an additional $1.2 billion for public education, one of the largest investments the Commonwealth has ever made in education from early childhood through high school. Beyond that investment the Governor has proposed free community college for those with a financial need who are enrolled in programs leading to jobs. More school counselors and teacher raises are also included in his proposed budget.

The affordable housing program will receive an additional $63 million in funding under the Governor’s budget. Community Services Boards will receive much needed additional funding to respond to the people who are having mental health crises. The Governor has also proposed a state-based marketplace for the nearly 400,000 Virginians who buy health insurance on their own rather than through an employer. A state system can help keep premiums down.

The Governor is proposing to raise the cigarette tax which I have also proposed several times over the years. Even with an increase Virginia will have the lowest tax on cigarettes except for North Carolina. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Virginia, and it directly causes more than $3 billion in yearly health care costs.

On transportation the Governor proposes an increase in the gas tax to raise money for improvements. To offset the increases, the Governor has proposed to save drivers $150 million per year by eliminating annual vehicle inspections that have not been shown to increase public safety. One of the greatest advancements in transportation improvements for Northern Virginia was announced days after his speech on the budget. Expansion of the Long Bridge across the Potomac River between Arlington and D.C. will take place over the next several years greatly expanding rail transit in the region.

With whatever holidays you celebrate, may they be filled with happiness, good health and joy! I look forward to serving you in the new year.

File photo

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The holiday season is here which means there are important closures around the area to keep in mind.

All Fairfax County government offices will be operating on a half-day schedule on Dec. 24 and be closed on Dec. 25.

For those who take public transit, the Fairfax Connector will operate on a normal schedule on both Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), according to a Fairfax County Department of Transportation press release.

On Christmas Day (Dec.25) and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) the buses will operate on a Sunday schedule. Times for specific busses can be found online.

Metro riders can also expect trains to run on a varied schedule during the holidays.

  • Dec. 24: 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 25: 8 a.m. t0 11 p.m.
  • Dec. 31: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Jan. 1: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The United States Postal Service will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

All Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and Nature House, will be closed Tuesday through Friday (Dec. 24-26). Offices will close at 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 and remain closed on Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day, according to the RA website.

Reston Community Center at Lake Anne will be closed on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) through New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) and will reopen on Jan. 2.

The Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It will be closed on Christmas. On New Year’s Day, the center will be open from noon to 5 p.m.

In Herndon, town offices will close at noon on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, according to a press release.

Trash will be collected on Tuesdays — Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 — instead of Christmas and New Year’s Day in Herndon.

The Herndon Community Center will have varied hours throughout the week:

  • Tuesday (Dec. 24): 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday (Dec. 25): closed
  • Thursday (Dec. 26): 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Tuesday (Dec. 31): 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday (Jan. 1): closed
  • Thursday (Jan. 2): 6 a.m. 10 p.m.

For golfers, the Herndon Golf Course also has a limited schedule — and if the weather cooperates.

  • Tuesday (Dec. 24): 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday (Dec. 25): closed
  • Tuesday (Dec 31): 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday (Jan. 1): 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Due to holiday festivities, Reston Now won’t be publishing on Dec. 25 or Jan. 1. We will be pushing on a shortened schedule today from tomorrow (Dec. 24) to next Tuesday (Dec. 31).

Photo courtesy Reston Town Center 

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Safety Tips for Candles — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue has advice on how to prevent fires this holiday season. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

New Tenants at Reston Station — “During 2019, Comstock Holding Companies, Inc., has announced the signing of more than 500,000 Sq. Ft. of new office leases in the Reston Station development, which covers nearly 40 acres surrounding the Wiehle-Reston East Station on Metro’s Silver Line… Most recently, Solar Winds signed a lease covering 16,349 Sq. Ft. at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza.” [GlobeNewswire]

Where to Dine Out on Christmas — Here are some restaurants that will be open on Dec. 25 around the Reston area. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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People across the U.S. are expected to hit record levels for traveling this holiday season.

According to AAA, 115.6 million people across the U.S. will travel between this Saturday and New Year’s Day — roughly 104 million will drive while around 7 million flying and 4 million taking trains, buses or cruise ships.

For the D.C. area, AAA forecasts the worst travel day will be Thursday (Dec. 26) between 4-6 p.m.

“For the 104.8 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts only marginal delays throughout the holiday week,” according to AAA.

Let us know if and how you plan to travel this holiday season.

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Local nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and ridesharing app Lyft are again partnering to offer free rides during the holiday season.

As part of an effort to combat drunk driving, WRAP will be sponsoring free Lyft rides starting next Friday (Dec. 20).

From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., rides up to $15 are free with the use of a promo code. The user is responsible for any costs over $15. The offer will continue until Jan. 1.

Weekly codes will be posted on the Sober Rides website at noon on Dec. 20, 27, and 31. The weekly code is only valid for one ride.

According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 621 alcohol-related crashes in Fairfax in 2017, resulting in 331 injuries and 12 fatalities.

“More than a third of all U.S. traffic fatalities during the holiday season in 2018 involved drunk drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” WRAP’s President Kurt Gregory Erickson said in the press release.

As the program is aimed at preventing alcohol related crashes, Lyft riders must be at least 21 years old to claim the offer. The code is valid for any rides inside the D.C. coverage area, which includes all of Fairfax County.

The SoberRide program operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween.

Image via Washington Regional Alcohol Program

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Restonians have banded together to launch “Light Up Reston,” a community-wide initiative that aims to encourage residents to support charities and decorate homes for the holidays.

The initiative aims to show residents’ community spirit and raise funds for Public Art Reston, Friends of Reston, and Cornerstones. It draws inspiration from Lake Thoreau Entertainment Associations’ “Festival of Lights,” which raises money for local charities and brings lights to the lake.

This year, residents — some friends and others strangers — decided to spread the initiative throughout the.

With expanding this effort across Reston, we are hoping to raise holiday spirit as well as  awareness of these wonderful Reston based charities by raising $25,000,” said Mary Prochnow, one of the organizers.

So far, $400 has been raised as the initiative kicks off. Last year’s “Festival of Lights” raised more than $8,500 for local charities.

Residents can donate funds to charities by contributing the dollar amount used to put up holiday decorations, the number of homes decorated in your neighborhood, or the number of times residents’ have thought about falling off a ladder while putting up lights.

Melissa Romano, who is also helping organize the initiative, said Restonians involved in lighting up Reston were drawn by their common desire to promote “great events in Reston.”

Photo via Charlotte Geary Photography

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The Lake Anne Merchant Professionals Association will once again host Jingle on the lake on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Attendees can enjoy holiday music, take part in cookie decorating and participate in other activities around the plaza. Santa Clause is expected to arrive by boat at noon and he’ll stay at the Reston Used Books Store to hear the wishes of tiny tots and take photos.

All day long, stores at the plaza will offer materials to write a letter to Santa, which can be mailed of the “North Pole Mail Service” inside Chesapeake Chocolates. The store will also offer free wine tasting and hot chocolate from noon to 3 p.m.

The Reston Farmer’s Market and Reston Craft Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon. Cookie decorating starts at 10 a.m. at Teapot and Cake. An adult choir performance is planned from 10:30-11 a.m.

More information about the event is available online.

Photo courtesy via Jingle on Lake Anne

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Friday Morning Notes

Britepaths Seeks Volunteers — The Fairfax-based nonprofit organization is seeking volunteers to sponsor families in need throughout the county. Sponsors are matched with families and may opt to provide a December holiday meal and gifts for children under 18. [Britepaths]

First African American Appointed as State Fire Marshal — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced the selection of Virginia’s new State Fire Marshal, Garrett Dyer. Garrett Dyer will oversee the law and code enforcement branch of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP), and lead more than 28 inspectors and administrative support staff. The Virginia State Fire Marshal’s role is to implement and enforce the fire code.[Office of the Governor]

Toy Drive in Reston Town Center Kicks Off This Month — RTC’s “Toys for Tots” drive will run from the last week of November through the first week of December. The program is held in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Toys will be collected in building lobbies. [Reston Town Center]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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