Morning Notes

Man stands on paddleboard at Lake Anne (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Metro Service Changes Start This Weekend — “Starting Sunday, Metro says riders will notice big changes when it comes to price and how often buses and trains come. The changes are part of an effort by Metro to lure back riders, something it has struggled to do during the pandemic. General manager Paul Wiedefeld tells 7News bus ridership is only about 55% what it was pre-pandemic, and rail is just 25% of what it once was.” [ABC7 News]

Fairfax County Firefighters Assist with Ida Response — A 16-person water rescue team with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team was activated by FEMA yesterday (Thursday) in response to the impact of Hurricane Ida remnants in the Northeast. The task force recently returned from Haiti after the island was devastated by an earthquake. [VATF1/Twitter]

Virginia No Longer Worst State for Workers — “Conditions for workers in Virginia have improved considerably since Democrats took control of the commonwealth’s General Assembly in 2019, according to a new assessment by anti-poverty organization Oxfam America. Oxfam ranked Virginia the ‘worst state for workers’ in 2018 and 2019…but [it] leapt to #23 in the organization’s 2021 rankings, released Wednesday.” [DCist]

Lights Festival Coming to Roer’s Zoofari — “Beginning on October 15, Roer’s Zoofari will host a very different collection of animals from its typical apes and reptiles line-up. Come embrace our post-reality reality with unicorns and dinosaurs at LuminoCity Festival, a paid-admission, outdoor display of light art. The concept is simple: thousands of giant, light-up figures and environments that you walk around and look at, at night.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Riders Could Be Banned for Crimes on Metro Property — “Metro is seeking authority to temporarily ban bus and rail riders from the system if they are arrested for…either sex-related crimes or crimes related to guns or other dangerous weapons. Anyone arrested for such crimes would be banned from the bus and rail system for 14 days after a first arrest, 30 days after a second arrest, and one year after a third arrest.” [WJLA-ABC7]

Tall Oaks Parking Expansion Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Reston assisted living facility’s proposal to add 29 spaces to its 44-space parking lot. Tall Oaks has also agreed to provide three secure bicycle racks near the front of the building and pre-wire 2% of the proposed spaces for electric vehicle charging stations. [Patch]

Fairfax County Teen to Get Congressional Medal — 17-year-old Centreville resident Ayonnah Tinsley is one of about 500 students who will get the Congressional Award Gold Medal in a virtual ceremony on July 30. The highest honor given by Congress to young people, the award recognizes youth for personal development, community service, and fitness. [WTOP]

Roer’s Zoofari Opens Butterfly Exhibit — “Imagine strolling through a tropical rain forrest surrounded by the flutter of colorful butterfly wings. That imagined experience can become a reality thanks to the new Wings of Wonder exhibit at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston.” [Patch]

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Roer’s Zoofari (Photo via Roer’s/Facebook)

Monday, July 12

  • Jigsaw Puzzle Exchange (10 a.m.-9 p.m.) — Ready to move on to a new jigsaw puzzle? Well, bring in your old puzzle to John Marshall Library and exchange it for a brand-new-to-you one.

Tuesday, July 13

  • Summer Concert in the Garden (6-8 p.m.) — Take in the songs of the summer with a garden concert in Green Springs Garden in Alexandria. Bring a lawn chair, blanket, and a picnic for a relaxing evening listening to Black Moon Tonic. Alcohol is not permitted.

Wednesday, July 14

  • City of Falls Church Prism Ensembles (7:30 p.m.) — Head on over to Mason District Park to listen to the City of Falls Church Prism Ensemble play a collection of classical and more modern tunes. There’ll be woodwind and brass instruments.

Thursday, July 15

  • Icepick Surgeon (6 p.m.) — Hosted by D.C.’s Politics & Prose, best-selling author Sam Kean will be in (virtual) conversation with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris about Kean’s new novel “Icepick Surgeon.” A tale of science and true crime, Kean draws upon real-world facts to create a tale of creepy fiction.

Friday, July 16 

  • Puppies and Pastries (1 p.m.) — Come for the snuggles and leave with a furry best friend. Head on over to Arbor Terrace in Herndon to meet, and maybe even adopt, a new dog. The event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, July 17

  • Vienna Multicultural Festival (2-7 p.m.) — A day-long celebration of the diverse cultures and communities that make up Vienna. There’ll be performances, food, crafts, and shopping.
  • Sunset Zoofari (5-9 p.m.) — Spend the evening with the animals at Roer’s Zoofari. Enjoy food, drinks, music and “intimate” encounters with the animal park’s residents. This is a chance to experience the zoo after dark.
  • Latinx Conservation Month (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) — Join the Fairfax County Park Authority in preserving and conserving the county’s natural resources. As part of the county’s Latinx Conservation Month, take a mushroom hike or paddle around Lake Fairfax in Reston.

Sunday, July 18

  • Big Flea Antiques Market (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) — After taking a break last year, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest flea market is back and being held in the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly. Maybe you’ll find that perfect antique clock or a mid-century modern glass cat statue.

via Roer’s/Facebook

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Roer’s Zoofari (Photo via Roer’s/Facebook)

Roer’s Zoofari has reopened after a fire broke out that killed two beloved giraffes earlier this month.

The zoo at 1228 Hunter Mill Road started welcoming visitors again for walk and drive-through visits on Monday (March 15), according to their Facebook, a week after a fatal barn fire left giraffes Waffles and Belagin dead.

The zoo has posted a remembrance on the website for the two animals.

“Waffles has been the heart of Roer’s Zoofari for 5 years. As we grieve we can look back at his legacy he leaves behind,” it reads in part. “Rest in peace Waffles, you will never be forgotten.”

For Belgian, it notes that he was recently brought to the zoo as a companion for Waffles.

“Tragically his time here was cut short. But in his few weeks at Roer’s Zoofari, he uplifted the spirits of visitors and staff,” the remembrance says. “He helped make Waffles’ last days an absolute joy as they played in the sun.”

Areas, including the barn, remain blocked off as an investigation is still ongoing, zoo owner Vanessa Roer writes Reston Now in an email.

At 5:30 p.m. on March 8, zoo staff was contacted by Fairfax County fire dispatch, according to a statement on the zoo’s website.

Staff arrived and were able to rescue about 20 other animals. They could not reach the giraffes, who were trapped in their stalls in the barn.

The giraffes likely died of smoke inhalation, the statement says.

While no cause has yet to be officially determined, staff believe the fire resulted from a heater that was being used to keep animals warm overnight in the barn during cold temperatures.

About a third of the barn was destroyed.

Additionally, in recent days, a petition has been circulating to shut down the zoo. Currently, there’s about 550 signatures.

It cites the alleged mistreatment of animals and violation of the Animal Welfare Act as reasons. No evidence of such claims is offered.

There have been several notable incidents and controversies over the last decade at the zoo, many of which occurred prior to the current ownership taking over in 2016.

For decades, the zoo near Lake Fairfax was known as “Reston Zoo” but it was sold to Vanessa and Jacob Roer after several high-profile animal cruelty charges. This includes the zoo’s previous director pleaded guilty of drowning an injured wallaby.

Other incidents include improper care provided to a spider monkey and exposing warm-weathered porcupines to cold temperatures.

At the time, Reston Zoo ownership chalked it up to mistakes, keeper error, and bad process.

Reston Now did send the petition to current zoo staff for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Photo via Roer’s/Facebook

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Staff at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston say they’re devastated after a barn fire killed the family-run zoo’s only two giraffes on Monday.

Although the blaze was brought under control, Waffles, a seven-year-old giraffe, and his companion, a giraffe that zoo owner Vanessa Roer acquired two weeks ago, were killed in the fire.

Staff at the zoo recently created a memorial outside the entrance of the zoo. People have been leaving flowers and balloons in memory of Waffles, a zoo-goer-favorite. 

According to Roer, 20 other animals were rescued after the blaze destroyed nearly one-third of the barn.

‘Waffles was a favorite with our visitors and our team,’ Roer said. ‘We are heartbroken.’

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department told Reston Now that an investigation on the cause of the fire and the extent of damages is underway.

Preliminarily, staff believe that the fire may have been caused by a heater used to keep animals warm in the barn overnight.

The zoo is closed until Friday.

Three macaws were taken to Leesburg Wild Animal Park Monday night after the zoo’s veterinarian ruled out any signs of smoke inhalation. All other animals were relocated inside the zoo.

The current owners took over the zoo, which was formerly known as Reston Zoo, in 2016. The former zoo’s director pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Photo via Vanessa Roer

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(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) A barn fire at Roer’s Zoofari has left two giraffes dead.

The fire was first reported at the private zoo at 1228 Hunter Mill Road around 6 p.m. In a photo posted by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, smoke could be seen rising from the roof of the two story building.

Later, after the blaze was brought under control, the fire department announced that two giraffes were found deceased. No other animals were reported hurt.

The zoo had a popular, seven-year-old giraffe named Waffles, who children could feed with their bare hands. It was Waffles and his companion that died in the fire, the zoo confirmed Monday night in a statement posted on social media.

Unfortunately, we have very sad news to share.

Tonight the Roer’s Zoofari staff and family are devastated following a barn fire that claimed the life of our beloved giraffe, “Waffles” and his new giraffe companion yet to be named.

Zoofari owner, Vanessa Roer, received the call at 5:30 PM from Fairfax County dispatch that the barn where the giraffes was housed in caught fire. Staff and the zoo’s veterinarian arrived within minutes to help rescue and care for approximately 20 other animals housed in the same area. We are grateful that no staff members or other Zoofari animals were injured or lost.

Grief counselors are being made available for staff, who are devastated by this tragedy and who cared deeply for these members of the Zoofari family.

Please note that Zoofari will be closed until further notice. Thank you for all of your support and condolences to our zoo family during this time.

Thank you to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department for responding so quickly.

Investigators are now on scene, trying to determine how the fire started.

Roer’s Zoofari, located near Lake Fairfax Park, was formerly known as Reston Zoo before its current owners took over in 2016. The new ownership followed a controversy in which the former zoo director pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.

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The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially rough for Roer’s Zoofari, a local family-owned zoo and safari, that is temporarily closed.

With no foot traffic due to stay-at-home orders, zoo staff work in tight shifts to care for animals. Some take walks with animal care staff where children during field trips and other guests would have walked to enjoy the zoo’s cheetah, zebra, water buffalo, and other animals.

Owner and CEO Vanessa Roer says the last eight weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.

Just as COVID-19 led to a local standstill, the zoo had little to bank on in the months where it typically sees visitation pick up due to birthday parties, field trips and warming temperatures.

“Most days we keep our chins up, but every so often, we lock ourselves in the walk-in cooler and scream and cry in frustration. Then we go outside and kiss our giraffe, hug a baby goat and step forward — one step at a time.”

The zoo turned to crowdfunding when it became clear that it would take time for funding from the Small Business Administration to cash in. Typically, the zoo does not make enough revenue to cover off-season costs from November through the end of February.

“We plan for four months of little income, but we never saw months five and six with zero income,” Roer said.

The business moved quickly to furlough all non-essential employees.

The crowdfunding campaign has raised $34,786 of its $100,000 goal — a response that Roer said went beyond what she expected. Community members have donated produce, meat, dry feed, and hay to help out.

But it took 28 days for the business to receive funds from GoFundMe as other residents and businesses raced to online platforms to secure cash flows.

“I literally processed payroll at the beginning of that week without enough money to cover the Friday distribution — on a wing and prayer,” Roer said.

Although funding soon began pouring in — the zoo received a Paycheck Protection Program loan that covered two months of payroll — the zoo still needs money to keep afloat through June.

A federal loan through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance is critical to the longterm success of the zoo. After technical hiccups on its first application, the Zoofari is still waiting on securing that loan since applying on March 31.

“Since our revenue is seasonal, each day we are closed, we are not earning money that will be saved for next winter,” Roer said. “Just getting by right now will mean that we may not get by in 9-12 months.”

Still, the animals are getting good care, she says. Roer’s veterinarian is making visits to the zoo and mask-wearing staff work in pairs to take care of animals.

Donations are still needed, Roer said. If the zoo does not pay its mortgage payments by June 1, the business could go back to its previous owner. So far, a forbearance period lasts until June 1. Funds are also needed to pay for health benefits, insurance, utilities and veterinary care.

Photos via Roer’s Zoofari/Facebook

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“LOVE” will tour around Fairfax County this summer. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan, the iconic letters will take a trip across the county to promote the message “Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation,” according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Fairfax County received a $10,000 grant from the corporation for its first permanent “LOVEwork” sign, which kicks off its tour in Tysons next month. It’ll make stops at Roer’s Zoofari (May 21-27), Reston Town Center (May 20 to June 4), and Frying Pan Farm Park (July 26 to August 4).

The tour concludes in August at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton — the permanent home of the letters.

Virginia’s slogan was coined by Richmond-based advertising agency Martin & Woltz in the late 1960s. After playing with different slogans like “Virginia is for History Lovers” and “Virginia is for mountain Lovers,” the firm chose the catch-all phrase “Virginia is for Lovers.” In 2009, the marketing campaign was recognized by Forbes.com as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.

Photo via Virginia Tourism Corporation

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The Reston Community Players’ 2017-18 season opens tonight as the curtain rises on their presentation of Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical “Aida.” The show, winner of four Tony Awards, will be performed through Nov. 11 at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road).

This weekend, the show is being performed at 8 p.m. both tonight and Saturday night. Tickets are $27, with student/senior tickets available for $23.

For more information about the show or about other upcoming events from the Reston Community Players, call 703-476-4500, ext. 3.

There is plenty else scheduled to take place this weekend in the area as well. Take a look at our list below.

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • A trail of illuminated hand-carved pumpkins is welcoming visitors to “THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience,” now through Oct. 29 at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive). Presented by Townsquare Live Events, the “enchanting Halloween wonderland” features a third-of-a-mile trail decorated with more than 5,000 pumpkins. Tickets, which are $16 for kids ages 3-12 and $22 for adults, are available online and must be purchased in advance.
  • The South Lakes High School football team, 6-1 on the season and ranked No. 13 in the region by the Washington Post, return home tonight for a 7 p.m. game against McLean.
  • Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
  • The Woodland Park Crossing HarvestFest will take place from 1-4 p.m. Saturday in the plaza, located at 12960 Highland Crossing Drive in Herndon. The event will feature strolling performers, tenant giveaways, face painting and entertainment, and participating restaurants will offer specials and samples.
  • A digital scavenger hunt is planned in downtown Herndon from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Participants will explore various businesses and areas in downtown Herndon to find what they seek. Prizes will be given to winners who discover all the hidden treasures. The event is open to all ages, but parents must accompany any children who play.
  • The bluegrass series at Holy Cross Lutheran Church (1090 Sterling Road, Herndon) will present a performance by The Blue Moon Cowgirls at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $15, with children 12 and under admitted free.
  • At 11 a.m. Saturday, kids ages 6-12 are invited to take part in the “Halloween Science Spectacular” at the Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive). Kids will explore fun Halloween science experiments that are “gooey and foggy.”
  • During “Giraffe-toberfest,” celebrate fall with animals at Roer’s Zoofari (1228 Hunter Mill Road) on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can meet the zoo’s giraffe, “Waffles.” Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will support giraffe conservation.
  • The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
  • Fashion illustrator Joanna Baker will be at Scout & Molly’s (11944 Market St.) from 2-6 p.m. Saturday. Her prints will be available for purchase and she will be on hand to answer questions.
  • Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m; and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) every Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
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Beautiful homes around the community will be on display Saturday during the 16th annual Reston Home Tour.

The tour “focuses on six homes whose owners have moved in within the last few years and whose homes have given them a new perspective on their life, their surroundings and in some cases their attitudes.” The homes on the tour include residences on Bromley Village Lane, Hemingway Drive, Orchard Lane, South Shore Road and Spyglass Cove Lane, as well as at the Stratford condominiums. In addition, Reston Association’s Lake House and Bozzuto’s Aperture apartment building will be open for tour.

Tickets remain available online today for $30. On the day of the event, they can only be purchased in person at any of the homes on the tour or at the Reston Museum and Historic Trust (1639 Washington Plaza N.). All proceeds from the event benefit the Reston Historic Trust and Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the past, informing the present and influencing the future of Reston through its educational programming, archives and exhibitions.

There is plenty else scheduled to take place this weekend in the area as well. Take a look at our list below.

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • A trail of illuminated hand-carved pumpkins is welcoming visitors to “THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience,” now through Oct. 29 at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive). Presented by Townsquare Live Events, the “enchanting Halloween wonderland” features a third-of-a-mile trail decorated with more than 5,000 pumpkins. Tickets, which are $16 for kids ages 3-12 and $22 for adults, are available online and must be purchased in advance.
  • Frying Pan Farm Park (2709 W. Ox Road, Herndon) will put on its Fall on the Farm festival this weekend. The event is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. In addition, Farm Harvest Days are slated for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Children’s Fall Flea Market at Reston Community Center is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 14 at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). The price of admission is donation of one non-perishable food item, which will go to the RCC Thanksgiving Food Drive.
  • In celebration of Fire Prevention Week, all Fairfax County Fire and Rescue stations will be hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Citizens are invited to meet firefighters, see the fire trucks, join in the activities and learn about fire safety. Local stations include Reston (1820 Wiehle Ave.), North Point (1117 Reston Ave.), Herndon (680 Spring St.) and Fox Mill (2610 Reston Parkway).
  • Lake Anne Brew House will hold a fundraiser for the South Lakes High School band, which is raising money to travel to Pearl Harbor, from 7-9 p.m. tonight. The Brew House will donate $1 per pint or soda purchased to the band.
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” Walk will take place tonight at Reston Town Center. Event festivities will start at 5 p.m., with the 1.5-mile walk to go off at 7.
  • The Runway to the Cure Fashion Show is scheduled for Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon at the Reston Town Center pavilion. Hosted by Scout & Molly’s, RTC and Athleta, the fashion show will highlight many designer fashions. Models are volunteers and include breast cancer survivors, customers and local high school students. Suggested donation is $25. All proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
  • Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
  • During “Giraffe-toberfest,” celebrate fall with animals at Roer’s Zoofari (1228 Hunter Mill Road) on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can meet the zoo’s giraffe “Waffles.” Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will support giraffe conservation.
  • The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
  • Reston Association will hold an open house at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.) from 10-11:30 a.m. Sunday.
  • Author Karen See will discuss her book, “The Should Syndrome,” from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.).
  • Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m; and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) every Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
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Local restaurants will offer up their favorite fall menus on Saturday during Flavors of Fall, a free annual festival that includes live entertainment, dancing and family activities at Reston Town Center. Admission is free.

The outdoor festival, formerly known as Reston Oktoberfest and run by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, will take place from noon to 11 p.m.

New to the festival this year is a cornhole tournament, which will feature regional teams who will compete for prizes, including travel and weekend getaway packages. Another addition this year is a craft beer and VIP lounge, where attendees can purchase tickets to experience 18 different craft beers.

Confirmed restaurants include Barcelona Wine Bar, Choolaah Indian Barbecue, Clyde’s of Reston, GreenFare, The Melting Pot, Mom’s Momo, Pittsburgh Rick’s and Tavern 64 Regional Kitchen.

There is plenty else scheduled to take place this weekend in the area as well. Take a look at our list below.

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • A trail of illuminated hand-carved pumpkins is welcoming visitors to “THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience,” now through Oct. 29 at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive). Presented by Townsquare Live Events, the “enchanting Halloween wonderland” features a third-of-a-mile trail decorated with more than 5,000 pumpkins. Tickets, which are $16 for kids ages 3-12 and $22 for adults, are available online and must be purchased in advance.
  • The South Lakes High School homecoming parade will begin at 5 p.m. tonight at Hunters Woods Village Center. It will proceed down Colts Neck Road to South Lakes Drive to the high school, where is is expected to arrive between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and it will be followed by the South Lakes Seahawks’ homecoming game against Langley. SLHS Leadership will be collecting funds for Hurricane Harvey relief.
  • Get ready to run in the Reston Pumpkin 5K and Kids Pumpkin Dash on Sunday at 8:15 a.m. in the Reston Town Center (11921 Freedom Drive). Participants are encouraged to debut their Halloween costumes.
  • Join the Greater Reston Arts Center as it says goodbye to “A Bird in the Hand,” a wooden, nest-like sculpture in Reston Town Square Park (11990 Market St.), Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Watch the “Amazing Acro-cats,” a troupe of performing house cats, at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive) as they complete tricks through the magic of clicker training. Shows run on Saturday at 4 and 7 p.m., on Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m., and on Monday at 1 p.m. Purchase tickets online here.
  • Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
  • Meet author Maya Corrigan on Saturday from 6 – 7 p.m. in Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.) as she talks about Edgar Allen Poe and her book “The Tell-Tale Tarte.”
  • The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
  • During “Giraffe-toberfest,” celebrate fall with animals at Roer’s Zoofari (1228 Hunter Mill Road) on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can meet the zoo’s giraffe “Waffles.” Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will support giraffe conservation.
  • Kids can create a healthy snack with food from Kidwell Farm (2739 West Ox Road) at Frying Pan Park. One-hour sessions in the “Kids Can Cook!” program begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $7 per child. An adult must attend class with the child.
  • Watch Mucca Pazza as they combine marching band traditions and street theater spectacles on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets are $20 for Reston residents and $30 for all other residents.
  • Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m; and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) every Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
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One of the rarest forms of water buffalo in the world can be found right here in Reston at Roer’s Zoofari.

The zoo (1228 Hunter Mill Road) recently acquired a pair of lowland anoa, endangered dwarf water buffalo from Indonesia that are so rare there are only about 70 in the United States.

“We work with several breeding programs to ensure that the Zoofari has adequate environments for these threatened, endangered or even vulnerable animals,” said Vanessa Stoffel, one of the zoo’s owners.

Anoa are characterized by their small, stocky bodies covered with thick, dark hair. They almost look like a brown cattle crossed with a woodland deer. They eat aquatic plants, ferns and grasses. Similarly to other water buffalo, they like to bathe in pools of water and mud.

While the species is technically protected under Indonesian law, its endangered status comes from hunting and habitat loss. In the past, their skulls and horns have been harvested by these hunters and sold for use in traditional medicine.

Visitors to the former Reston Zoo can enjoy the rare animals in a new barnyard area that has lots of fresh air for the animals. Another new addition is the use of buses to transport guests around the zoo, instead of the tractors that were formerly used.

“It was getting difficult to find someone who could control a tractor in Reston,” Stoffel said.

The buses are easier to maintain, she said, and visitors can still experience alpacas and other animals walking up to the buses as they go on the Zoofari.

The zoo also features an interactive exhibit with a camel and giraffe. At certain times, visitors can pay $5 to feel the animals. Patrons are able to go up close and personal with the animals during these encounters.

“If you hold your palm flat [to the camel], he’ll even give you kisses,” said zookeeper Alisha Benack as she monitored the camel encounter. On cue, the camel kissed and nuzzled her just as friendly as a dog would.

Roer’s Zoofari is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with times for special exhibits and encounters available daily. Visit its website for ticket information or call 703-757-6222.

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Friday Morning Notes

Toll Road Ramp Detour Starts This Weekend — The ramp from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the Fairfax County Parkway will be diverted through the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride parking lot. The detour is expected to remain in place through 2017 to allow Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews to perform utility and road work on the ramp. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Wombat Hoax Spreads on Twitter — A Twitter account posing as Roer’s Zoofari has been claiming this week that a wombat escaped from the zoo. A lot of people fell for the gag. [Reston Patch]

Trip to Pro Tennis Match Slated — Reston Association will have a group outing Tuesday night to see Martina Hingis and the Washington Kastles face the New York Empire. [Reston Association]

Sobriety Checkpoint Saturday Night — Police departments from Fairfax and Loudoun counties will be working together at a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Centreville/Chantilly area. [Fairfax County Police Department]

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chinese-lantern-festivalReston residents will be able to bask in the glow of handcrafted Chinese lanterns during a festival at Roer’s Zoofari in Vienna later this month.

The zoo (formerly the Reston Zoo at 1228 Hunter Mill Road) at is ready be filled with more than 40 lantern sets and 800 bright displays as part of its ongoing Chinese Lantern Festival starting Nov. 16.

Visitors will be transported throughout the world as they walk among Chinese lanterns shaped like lions, tigers, monkeys and even dinosaurs.

Touted as “a modern take on the ancient art of lantern-making,” the festival will include artisans, craftsmen and performers. In addition to viewing the glowing artwork displays, visitors can watch live martial arts shows and shop for souvenirs and gifts made by folk artists.

“Twenty artists from China will work on-site at Roers Zoofari for weeks in a temporary ‘lantern factory’ to create exquisite scenes that include animals from throughout the world,” reads a press release for the event. “From lions to dinosaurs, giraffes to whales–even a herd of zebra’s–figures will form dreamscapes of color and motion.”

The Chinese Lantern Festival will run from Wednesday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 1. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children over 3.

Photo courtesy of Chinese Lantern Festival

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Waffles the Giraffe and a young visitor/Credit: Roer's Zoofari

Roer’s Zoofari (formerly The Reston Zoo) is holding a fall festival with a twist this weekend and next.

Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30 are Roer’s Giraffe-Tober Fest. For a $20 admission, visitors can meet Roer’s newest animal, Waffles the giraffe, and participate in some fall farm fun, including:

  • Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin Patch
  • Kids Zone w/Bounce House
  • Giraffe Feeding
  • Safari Wagon Ride
  • Scarecrow Competition
  • Carnival Games

Giraffe-Tober Fest’s Kids Zone is sponsored by the Russian School of Mathematics. Part of the proceeds will go to giraffe conservation efforts.

Roer’s is also holding a trick-or-treat event Oct. 29 to 31.

Kids can come “enjoy a very-not-scary Halloween at the zoo” from 5 to 7 p.m. The bounce house will be open, and there will be games and trick-or-treating. Adults and kids under 2: Free; $10 for kids over age 2. Half price for season pass holders.

Roer’s Zoofari, which was purchased and renamed in March, is located at 1228 Hunter Mill Road.

Purchase advance tickets to Giraffe-Tober Fest online.

Photo: Waffles the Giraffe and a young visitor/Credit: Roer’s Zoofari

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