Reston, VA

As we approach Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, there are a few community and government office closures to be aware of.

Fairfax County

County offices and the County Circuit Court will be closed Monday.

The Fairfax Connector will operate on holiday weekday service. A full list of routes affected is available online.

County libraries will be closed. Colvin Run Mill and Sully Historic Site will be closed.

All county RECenters will operate at regular hours. The following nature centers will be open from noon to 4 p.m.: E.C. Lawrence, Hidden Oaks, Hidden Pond and Huntley Meadows.

The visitor center at Riverbend Park will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

The farm at Frying Pan Farm Park will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the indoor arena will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment. The visitor center at the park will be closed Monday.

Green Spring Garden’s horticultural center will be open from noon to 4:30 p.m., and its historic house will be closed.

Reston

The Reston Community Center Hunters Woods will host its 36th Annual Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration with events on Saturday, Sunday and Monday that can be found online. The location will also be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday.

Reston Community Center Lake Anne will be closed all day Monday.

Herndon

The town offices and Herndon Community Center will be closed Monday.

Recycling normally collected on Monday will be collected Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Metro, DMV and more

WMATA will have an altered schedule from Saturday through Monday. Metrorail will operate from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday, trains will run from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. operating on Saturday service frequencies, every 12-15 minutes on the Red Line and every 15-20 minutes on all other lines.

All DMV offices will be closed Monday.

Photo courtesy of Center for National and Community Service

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An end to 2020 is almost upon us. If ever a year deserved a send-off of champagne and confetti, it was this one, but as they did with many other traditions, concerns about COVID-19 have curtailed or put on hold many of the usual New Year’s Eve parties.

Still, there remain plenty of options for ringing in the new year.

Many local restaurants are offering special meals to eat in or take home as well as festive cocktails created by local bartenders and mixologists that you can order or try to recreate yourself.

For people who like to close out the year with a song, the Times Square Ball Drop will feature singer Andra Day headlining an evening of live performances. The event is closed to the public this year, but it will still be broadcast on TV and online.

The great outdoors also offers a world of possibility.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is turning its annual First Hike Fairfax program into a three-day affair that starts on New Year’s Day. People who send in a photo of their hike by Jan. 3 will be entered into a contest to celebrate the park authority’s 70th anniversary.

How do you plan on ushering in 2021? If you have a special New Year’s tradition that’s not included below, feel free to share in the comments.

Image via Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year approaches, it may be time to throw out your old Christmas tree and greenery.

Residents of Fairfax County have between Jan. 11 and 22 for recycling Christmas trees. Live Christmas trees of less than eight feet will be collected curbside outside of single family and townhouse communities on regular garbage collection days during the time period.

Residents may schedule a brush pickup for a tree removal after Jan. 22.

Fairfax County residents can also drop off their trees at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex. There is a $7 recycling fee per tree at the recycling center. All decorations and stands must be separated before disposing of trees.

In the Town of Herndon, Christmas trees will be collected curbside on residents’ individual trash days between Jan. 8 through the 15. The town requests that all decorations be removed from the tree and placed as close to the curb as possible.

The National Christmas Tree Association lists other recycling options as follows:

  • Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management.
  • Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
  • Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.
  • Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.
  • Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.
  • Living, rooted trees: Get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and plant it in your yard. (It’s a good idea to dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.
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While it may be tempting to throw caution into the wind as 2020 winds to a close, local and state police are emphasizing the need for people to drive safely during the winter holidays, when alcohol-related crashes often spike.

Data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office shows that the Commonwealth has recorded more fatalities from traffic crashes related to speed and drunk driving so far this year than in all of 2019, the Virginia State Police reported on Monday (Dec. 21).

“Virginia is on pace to have more total fatal traffic crashes in 2020 than in 2019,” VSP Superintendent Col. Gary Settle said. “…Overall traffic crashes in Virginia this year are down significantly. This means each crash has been deadlier – deadlier because of speed, alcohol, distractions, and individuals not wearing seatbelts.”

The increase in deaths from crashes comes even as the COVID-19 pandemic kept many people off the roads and confined to their homes.

According to toll operator Transurban, traffic on the Interstate 95, 495, and 395 Express Lanes was down 80% in April – when Virginia had stay-at-home orders in place – compared to that same time period in 2019. While traffic has gradually increased since then, it remained 39% below 2019 levels as of November.

Police say that drunk-driving related fatalities and crashes typically go up nationwide during the holidays.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 839 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. in December 2018. 285 of them died during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period, the VSP says.

The Fairfax County Police Department’s traffic division steps up its patrol for people driving the influence every year with an annual campaign against drunk driving that runs from the end of November to the new year.

“Although this campaign only runs until January 1, we are fortunate enough to have a dedicated DWI Squad to continue enforcement throughout the rest of the year,” the FCPD said in an email, adding that Virginia DMV recorded 336 alcohol-related crashes, 215 injuries, and seven deaths in the state from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, 2019.

Health officials have been discouraging people from attending parties or gathering with people outside their immediate household, but for anyone who decides to travel during the holiday season, the Virginia State Police has some recommendations:

  • Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver, call a friend or family member, or use a cab or public transportation.
  • If you know someone has been drinking, do not let them drive. Arrange an alternative, safer way home.
  • Call police if you see an impaired driver on the road. Dial #77 to contact the nearest VSP emergency communications center.

State police will also have new grounds to crack down on distracted driving in the new year. It will be illegal to use a phone or other handheld communications device while driving on highways in Virginia starting on Jan. 1.

“Virginia State Police is urging every motorist on the road this holiday season to be responsible, obey the traffic laws, ditch distractions, and wear a seatbelt,” the VSP said in its news release. “Whether heading to the grocery store, the post office, or delivering gifts to family and friends, choose to do it safely and do it responsibly.”

Photo via FCPD, map via Virginia DMV

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COVID-19 may have put a damper on a lot of year-end festivities, but many hallmarks of this holiday season are still going strong.

There is a certain magic in getting bundled up for ice skating or sipping mulled cider (or hot toddies) at outdoor restaurants. For something spectacular, families can enjoy holiday light shows or their neighbors’ tacky Christmas lights.

All of these and more winter activities can be done in Fairfax County through January. This year, you can justify these cold weather-friendly events to your heat-loving friends even more, since the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower outside.

Does winter hold a certain spark for you? Are you going stir-crazy at home and need places to go? Tell us below how you are taking in this season, and drop recommendations in the comments.

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The Town of Herndon is planning to shine a light on the best holiday decorations in the area this month.

The initiative, “Lights on the for the Holidays,” seeks to recognize noteworthy holiday decorations in the Town of Herndon. A walking map of festive holiday deadlines will be published once the town finishes gathering location details.

Residents and businesses can submit locations to highlight for the map. Both residential and commercial addresses will be featured in the Google Maps. Entries are due by Dec. 18.

The submission form also includes a field for information that can be publicly shared.

The Town of Herndon describes the project as a “community spirit enhancer” and not a contest. Names or contact information of participants will not be published.

Photo by Bob Ricca/Unsplash

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The trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County continues its upward climb this week.

As of today (Monday), the trailing weekly average of new cases hit 471, with an all-time high reported on Saturday when cases hit a weekly average of 505.

While the county’s caseload continues to break all local records, the acceleration of new cases reported daily seems to slow slightly.

Nonetheless, the county reported the highest number of daily cases — 725 — last week on Dec. 7. Overall, the case trajectory continues to be exponential over the last month, suggesting that community transmission is occurring.

Another measure to determine community spread — the test rate positivity — remained high this week. The county’s rate is 10.6 percent, slightly down from last week’s rate of 11.5 percent. The state’s rate is 10.9 percent.

New statewide restrictions are going into effect today that include a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., a 10-person cap on social gatherings and an emphasis on a mandatory mask requirement.

Meanwhile, the county is urging residents to celebrate the holidays with the people in their immediate household.

“We must find a way to recognize our traditions without putting ourselves and others at risk,” said Fairfax County Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu.

An initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration last week. Millions of doses will be shipped around the country next week.

In a recent meeting with the Herndon Town Council, town manager Bill Ashton noted that health officials believe the vaccine will be accessible to the general populace in late spring or early summer. 

Image via Unsplash

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Woman Brightens Sister’s Holiday Season — “Carolina Oneill’s sister, Jess, was furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic back in March. Although Jess was receiving unemployment insurance, it was cut off in October.” [Reston Patch]

A Peek Inside Made in Fairfax Manufacturers — “The Made in Fairfax Directory provides an opportunity for residents and supporters to connect directly with Fairfax County makers. Please note that listing in this directory is not an endorsement of businesses or products, and is provided for informational purposes only.” [Fairfax County Government]

Northam Expected to Announce New COVID-19 Restrictions — “Virginia’s Governor is expected to announce tighter COVID-19 restrictions following a record-setting day for new coronavirus cases. Gov. Ralph Northam hasn’t detailed yet what the restrictions will be but says ‘mitigation measures will be nuanced and in-line with our targeted, data-driven response.'” [NBC4]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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While the cold temperatures settle in, Christmas trees and greenery have become a hot commodity in the area.

Farms, markets and Christmas shops are open around the Reston, Herndon and Falls Church area, ready to provide the centerpiece of the family home for the holidays.

The Reston Farm Garden Market has five locations to pick up Christmas trees, greenery, wreaths and accessories. These include its main location in Reston (10800 Baron Cameron Ave.), as well as spots in Herndon (2551 John Milton Drive) and Fairfax (3089 Nutley Street).

The market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Dec. 24 at each location. The trees range in height from 4 feet to 12 feet, and are offered in three types of fir: Concolor, Douglas and Fraser.

Prices range from $89.99 and up for Douglas Fir, $49.99 and up for Fraser Fir, and a Concolor Fir is $69.99.

The market offers online shopping for pickup or delivery, within 10 miles of any of the five locations.

Krop’s Crops (11110 Georgetown Pike) in Great Falls is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The 20-acre farm features a variety of pre-cut Noble Firs, Fraser Firs and Douglas Firs that range from 5 to 14 feet.

Delivery of pre-cut trees is available upon request.

The farm also sells poinsettias, wreaths and other holiday decorations. Its “choose-and-cut” section of trees is temporarily closed this season.

Sexton Christmas Trees has its Great Falls lot open behind the post office at 10001 Georgetown Pike. The lot will have Fraser Firs up to 12 feet, and wreaths, garland and other Christmas decorations available.

The lot’s hours (weather permitting) are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The Merrifield Garden Center’s Christmas Shop is open in three locations, including Falls Church (8131 Lee Highway), Fairfax (12101 Lee Highway) and Gainesville (6895 Wellington Road). The garden center is completely open for customers to shop.

The center features an abundance of varieties and the sizes range from tabletop to 15 feet. The varieties include different firs, such as Fraser and Turkish, as well as different pines and a spruce variety. Additionally, wreaths, garlands, artificial trees and other decorative options are available.

The store hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Meadows Farms offers a variety of holiday greenery at 21 locations, including Falls Church (6461 Arlington Boulevard) and Herndon (11254 Leesburg Pike). Both the Falls Church and Herndon locations are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Meadows Farms has cut Christmas trees from tabletop to 12-foot options, and a large selection of pine roping, poinsettias and wreaths available.

Photo via Reston Farm Market website

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Thursday Morning Notes

Virtual Job Fair Set for Job-seekers Age 50+ — The county is hosting a free virtual employment expo. On Friday (Dec. 4) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is open online.  [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon High School’s NJROTC Donates Holiday Meals — “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need for food in the area, the Herndon High School NJROTC donated 11 family meals for Thanksgiving and pledged another ten meals for Christmas, for a total of 21 in honor of the Class of 2021, to families in need via Food for Neighbors.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

70,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Expected in Virginia — “Gov. Ralph Northam said in a Wednesday news conference in Richmond that an estimated 70,000 doses would be in the first wave of Pfizer vaccines sent to Virginia. Should the FDA give approval to Pfizer’s vaccine, doses would go to states immediately, which Northam expected would happen as early as mid-December.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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This holiday season will look different with social-distancing, face coverings and other safety measures and recommendations from the Fairfax County Health Department.

For the first three weeks of this month, Reston Community Center will be hosting virtual events every Tuesday and Thursday that will get you active, creative and in the holiday spirit, according to its press release.

The following events will take place on the Reston Community Center’s Facebook page and registration is not required:

For more information about RCC’s virtual holiday events, visit the center’s website.

Other holiday festivities will take place in Reston this month, including the Christmas Festival in Herndon. This free event will take place at Emily Rose Lewis Ministries (503 Carlisle Drive). Guests will be able to enjoy free food, drinks, festive decorations and a free Christmas photo, according to the website.

This Sunday only, families of five or less can receive a free holiday photo from Worldgate Centre (13007 Worldgate Drive). All guests will have their temperature taken and are required to wear a face covering until their photo is taken, the website said.

For the first three weekends of this month, families can receive another free family photo from Santa’s Workshop at Woodland Park Crossing (12960 Highland Crossing Drive).

Guests are also encouraged to donate new and unwrapped toys during this time as the company raises donations for Toys for Tots. Toys will be accepted at Woodland Park Crossing until Sunday (Dec. 13).

Train rides will be available every Saturday and Sunday of this month in Reston Town Center (11900 Market St.). The cost is $20 and each ride will run for approximately 15 minutes. Guests are also required to wear a face covering throughout the duration of their ride.

Photo via Reston Town Center/Facebook

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Reston’s Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association is officially holding its 8th Annual Lake Thoreau Festival of Winter Lights. 

The festival, a lakeside tradition, will raise money for local causes. Residents must decorate the lake-facing side of their house, condo or boat with lights, and in return, donors will donate money to organizations of their choice.

This year, the initial pledges include:

  • $12 per house contribution (max $2,000) for Lake Thoreau concerts next year (contact [email protected] to join the pledge).
  • $8 per house contribution, cumulative from two donors, towards Cornerstones.
  • $5 per house contribution (max $1,000) to Public Art Reston to sponsor Reston community art projects (donations can be directed to the Lake Thoreau project).
  • $100 fixed contribution to Friends of Reston.

According to the statement, this means a total of $25 per house will go to the causes listed above based on the current commitments. 

Those interested in becoming a donor can reach out to James Pan at [email protected]. Donors can pledge either a fixed amount or on a per house basis. 

The Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association encourages the whole neighborhood to become involved and beat last year’s count of 177 homes and boats with lights. Since residents put up their own lights, the event is COVID-19 friendly — one of the safer seasonal celebrations to partake in. 

The houses will be counted on Monday, Dec. 21, weather permitting. 

Photo by Bob Ricca/Unsplash

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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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