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Morning Notes

A bicyclist heads down Maple Avenue in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Inova Plans New Recovery Hospital —  Inova Health System will open a Critical Illness Recovery Hospital at the Mount Vernon Hospital in Fort Hunt in the first half of 2023. Operated by the provider Select Medical, the 32-bed facility will provide specialized clinical support for patients who require an extended stay but no longer need intensive care — an option currently not available in Northern Virginia. [Inova]

Jollibee Opening in Lincolnia Area Sunday — “Filipino chicken chain Jollibee announced that, after some earlier delays, the Lincolnia location is scheduled to open this Sunday, June 26. The restaurant is opening at 4809 Beauregard Street in the Plaza at Landmark shopping center.” [ALXnow]

Fairfax City Mayoral Race Adds New Candidate — “Fairfax City Council member Sang Yi announced on Wednesday that he was running in the Nov. 8 general election to be city’s next mayor…Sang will be running against Catherine Read. Mayor Daniel Meyer previously announced that he wouldn’t be running for reelection.” [Patch]

Car Wheels Stolen in Newington — “Two car owners in Newington in Fairfax County woke up this morning to find their cars propped up on bricks and all the wheels stolen. One of the car owners…tells me he works hard to provide for his family and is very frustrated by this. It’s part of a troubling trend that’s been going on for years in the DC area.” [NBC4]

Fairfax County Is #1 in Country for Mental Health — Northern Virginia had a strong showing in a “Healthiest Communities” ranking from U.S. News & World Report and CVS Health, which graded 500 localities nationwide. At #17 overall, Fairfax County got its highest mark for mental health based on reports of mental distress, depression, and death rates related to suicide and substance issues. [U.S. News & World Report]

NOVA Parks Seeks Input on Five-Year Plan — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has released a draft 2023-2027 strategic plan and is accepting feedback via an online survey until 5 p.m. on July 8. Priorities proposed by the plan include a $6 million investment in trails, a visitor center for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and a commitment to plant over 50,000 trees. [NOVA Parks]

Merger Gives Tysons Another Corporate HQ — “Defense contractor Vectrus Inc. and government services company Vertex Inc. are moving forward with a $2.1 billion merger that will move the rebranded company’s headquarters to Northern Virginia…V2X is expected to be based in McLean, where Vectrus already has an office at 7901 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Cuts Ribbon on New Mural — “The new mural, a nod to the month-long Liberty Amendments Month celebration and painted by local artist, Teresa Ahmad, was unveiled today at the Patrick Henry Library! Everyone is encouraged to check out this beautiful addition to the Town!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Celebrate Hummingbirds in Lincolnia — “For those who can’t get enough of the beauty of hummingbirds, a group of local photographers are mounting an exhibition this summer at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria…The show runs from June 28 through Oct. 16, 2022, at the Historic House at Green Spring Gardens and is free to the public.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Sandlot pop-up bar at The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Boro in Tysons is going to the dogs this weekend, hosting a pair of canine-friendly events that will also benefit a local LGBTQ youth advocacy group.

The mixed-use development near the Greensboro Metro station is inviting pups and their humans alike to a “Yappy Hour” at 5-7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).

The Sandlot Tysons (1640 Boro Place) will feature a Bone Bar with dog treats and branded bag holder giveaways and a photo opportunity in front of the word “bark” spelled out in “jumbo light-up letters,” according to a news release.

There will also be live music and cocktails, and the local nonprofit Wolf Trap Animal Rescue will be present to share information about fostering a dog. A portion of all beverage proceeds will go to Safe Space NOVA, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that provides support and resources to LGBTQ teens.

In addition to offering a support group, educational programs, and social activities, the organization will host its annual Pride Prom for high school students at The St. James in Springfield tomorrow. Designed to be inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations, the event had been on a two-year break due to the pandemic.

“In celebration of Pride Month, The Boro is excited to partner with one of the great local organizations aiming to help members of the LGBTQ+ community,” The Boro said in a statement. “Safe Space NOVA is dedicated to providing a safe, accepting and supporting environment to combat social stigmas, bullying and other challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth.”

“Yappy Hour” is free and open to the general public, but the development encourages registering in advance through Eventbrite.

The following morning will bring a less-boozy affair with a “Camp Bark” training session at Boro Park.

A local trainer will lead the class for beginners from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday (June 25). Free coffee and treats will be available, and a portion of sales from the tickets, which cost $10 per dog, will be donated to Safe Space NOVA.

Registration on Eventbrite is required for participants.

Additional Pride Month events coming to the Tysons area this June include the Mosaic District’s first-ever Pride Celebration on Saturday and a concert by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington at Capital One Hall on Sunday (June 26).

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A food donation drive is set for tomorrow at a Reston church (via Aaron Doucett/Unsplash)

A team of nonprofit organizations and a major, Reston-based company are partnering to bring food and other essentials to 400 families tomorrow (Thursday).

The tuna manufacturer StarKist Co., which recently relocated its headquarters to Reston Town Center, is working with Feed the Children and Cornerstones on a food drive from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) in Reston.

Families will receive a 25-pound box of food, a 15-pound box of hygiene essentials, a box of Avon products, Disney storybooks and other items.

Starkist president Andrew Choo said the company looks forward to beginning an alliance with Cornerstones, which he called an “extraordinary organization” that has been serving Northern Virginia for more than 50 years.

“There will be more empty plates this summer season than ever before, and it is estimated that one in four children will be food insecure,” Choo said in a news release. “We believe that no child should go hungry in this country, and we are aware that the need is great.”

Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson said that the lingering impacts of the pandemic, including the rising cost of groceries and gas, have lead to more insecurity for families.

“For our June Food Pantry Distribution event, we are proud to partner with StarKist and Feed the Children to help stabilize people living in crisis today,” Wilson said in a statement. “Their commitment to community engagement and volunteerism plays an essential role in helping Cornerstones ensure the economic and health stability, equity, and resiliency of Northern Virginia.”

Cornerstones’ food pantry has already seen a growing number of people in need of services.

“Having served 1,347 households with 10,480 bags of food/toiletries, benefiting close to 5,000 people in FY21 (an average of 450+ households per month), Cornerstones anticipates even more people — particularly low to moderate-income families with children and seniors — will seek food pantry assistance,” wrote Margaret Anne Lara, the organization’s vice president of marketing and communications.

During the pandemic, the number of food-insecure residents has doubled in Fairfax County, which houses the largest number of food-insecure residents in Virginia.

Tomorrow’s event will include remarks by local elected officials and community representatives, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Photo via Aaron Doucett/Unsplash

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Gum Springs in Fairfax County (courtesy New Gum Springs Civic Association)

Gum Springs, the oldest Black community in Fairfax County, is holding its Juneteenth celebration this weekend as it faces an uncertain future.

The New Gum Springs Civic Association (NGSCA) will celebrate Juneteenth with a community day tomorrow (Saturday), featuring roller skating, food, music, and words from the great-great-great granddaughter of the community’s founder, West Ford.

There will also be a performance by the Caribbean American International Steel Band, NGSCA President Queenie Cox tells FFXnow, along with a special playing of a song written by Dr. Cleve Francis, a cardiologist at Inova Mount Vernon. The doctor/country musician wrote the song in honor of the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting last month.

The event is being held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (8115 Fordson Road).

Gum Springs Community Day and Juneteenth Celebration 2022 (courtesy the New Gum Springs Civic Association)

West Ford founded the community of Gum Springs in 1833 on land that he purchased after being freed from slavery at Mount Vernon, where he worked under George Washington. There are also claims that Ford was the son of America’s first president, though Mount Vernon officials have denied that.

In the nearly two centuries since its founding, Gum Springs in the Mount Vernon District has become a well-known historically Black community, but it’s now at risk of disappearing.

“We are constantly being challenged,” said Cox, who grew up in Gum Springs and lives in the house her grandfather built in the 1940s. “This community is [under threat] of being dismantled, eliminated and minimized for its contribution to this [nation’s] history.”

Recently, longtime residents have protested changes they fear could erase the community’s history.

Last year, plans for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s long-gestating widening of Richmond Highway shifted, further encroaching on the borders of Gum Springs. The change left a number of residents feeling like their community is being unfairly targeted.

Another community group, the Holland Court Property Owners Association, has also set up within the borders of Gum Springs, a move that the NGSCA views as intentionally trying to minimize the community’s historical impact.

Cox calls those efforts disrespectful and wrong, noting that other Black communities in the region have experienced similar challenges.

“The steps that certain individuals within the community are taking are contributing to the vanishing Black communities, and it diminishes the contribution that those Black communities have made…to American history,” Cox said.

A Gum Springs Conservation Plan was developed in 2015 as an effort to work with the county to preserve the community. However, Cox says that plan hasn’t fully been reviewed by county staff or adopted by the Board of Supervisors in the seven years since.

Celebrations like the one coming this Saturday are important, because they bring people and awareness to the challenges that Fairfax County’s oldest Black community are facing, Cox says.

“The only way that Gum Springs is going to get the protection it needs is that we have to be very vocal and public about it,” Cox said. “Gum Springs has to fight harder in order to get what other communities in the Mount Vernon District has and continues to achieve.”

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Vienna’s logo for Liberty Amendments Month painted on Patrick Henry Library (photo by Amy Woolsey)

In the Town of Vienna, Juneteenth will be just the start of a month of celebrating the halting steps America has taken toward true equality and reflecting on the work that still needs to be done.

The town will kick off its second annual Liberty Amendments Month tomorrow (Saturday) with a Juneteenth Celebration at the First Baptist Church of Vienna (450 Orchard Street NW). The event will unfold from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m.

Commemorating the June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Texas were declared free under the Emancipation Proclamation, the festivities will include African drumming and dance performances, an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band, a car show, food trucks, vendors, and a kids’ book giveaway.

The celebration will usher in four weeks of events and activities dedicated to the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, expanded citizenship rights, and granted voting rights to Black people and women.

“These four amendments…helped bring the nation closer to that ideal of a more perfect Union,” Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton said in a news release. “Liberty Amendments Month is an opportunity for everyone to rededicate themselves to the principles of our nation’s foundational documents and to celebrate the common ground that binds us as one, unified nation.”

Established by the Vienna Town Council in December 2020, Liberty Amendments Month was conceived by Payton in response to racial justice protests spurred by George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

The Virginia General Assembly also designated June 19 through the third Monday in July of every year as Liberty Amendments Month statewide in February 2021.

Vienna celebrated its first Liberty Amendments Month last summer. The festivities included 65 different activities that drew more than 21,000 attendees, according to the town.

Events and activities planned for this year’s occasion range from mini festivals and museum exhibits on each of the amendments to a July 14 trip to the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial and Lucy Burns Museum in Lorton and a July 6 documentary screening and panel discussion on race at the Vienna Community Center.

A full calendar of events can be found at viennava.gov/Liberty.

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Fourth of July fireworks (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

After a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, the Town of Herndon is looking ahead to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, activities and entertainment.

The town’s July 4 celebration, which is set for 6:30-10 p.m. that Monday, will feature live entertainment by Hipshack, a band that will perform party songs and modern hits. Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m.

A tentative rain date for the fireworks is set for the next day at 9:30 p.m.

Town staff note that traffic will be rerouted at the event, which is located at 814 Ferndale Avenue around the Herndon Community Center and Bready Park Softball Field.

Admission is free.

Motorists should expect significant detours and changes to traffic routes in the area until the fireworks display is finished. Individuals parked at the community center won’t be able to exit until given the all clear by the fire marshal and Herndon Police Department.

Ferndale Avenue will be closed to through traffic from Vine Street to Barton Oaks once parking lots are filled. The lots will remain closed until the show is completed, with the exemption of access for ADA-friendly parking.

Here’s more from the town on planned traffic adjustments:

Herndon Parkway will be reduced to one lane approaching Ferndale Avenue;

No turns from Herndon Parkway onto Ferndale Avenue will be permitted;

Elden Street southbound into town at Monroe Street will be closed during this period and all traffic must turn right onto Monroe Street;

Elden Street traffic northbound at Alabama Drive will be re-routed;

Herndon Middle School traffic exiting from 5th Street must turn left (west) on Locust Street and may only then turn left (south) onto Elden Street;

Locust Street access will be restricted on School, Spruce and Grace  Streets;

St Joseph’s Church parking lot will exit onto Peachtree Street and may turn left only onto Elden Street;

Bready Park softball and Herndon Centennial Golf Course parking lots will exit onto Ferndale Avenue towards Herndon Parkway only

Ferndale Avenue traffic will turn right only onto Park Avenue or Herndon  Parkway;

Sterling Road (Route 606) southbound from Herndon Parkway, is restricted to local access only;

Crestview Drive – no access to Sterling Road from Bayshire Lane;

Vine Street will be closed from Ferndale Avenue to Grace Street;

Main Drive will be closed.

Town staff encourage residents to leave their pets at home and bring a blanket or lawn chair. Coolers and bags are subject to searches and alcohol, glass containers and personal fireworks are not allowed.

For fireworks viewing only, it’s best to nab a spot at the Station Street municipal parking lot and watch from the town green. Food is not allowed on the turf field.

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A photo of a previous block party at the PARC at Tysons (via Celebrate Fairfax)

The Celebrate Fairfax! Festival is returning in a new form this year — smaller events throughout the county.

The annual festival was a summer highlight featuring bands, carnival rides, and more at the Fairfax County Government Center, but this year, the nonprofit Celebrate Fairfax Inc. is bringing parts of the festival to each of the county’s districts, organizers announced in April.

The karaoke competition that traditionally was at the festival will take place at block parties at the PARC at Tysons, starting this Friday (June 17).

“We are bringing a Celebrate Fairfax! Festival favorite to the PARC – the Fairfax County Karaoke Competition! During the first Block Party we will have our wildcard competition, so get ready to sing at the top of your lungs!” the event website reads. The karaoke semifinals will be held Friday, July 15, and the finals on Friday, Aug. 19.

The Block Party will also feature outdoor games, a food truck and Beltway Brewing.

The announcement of the event’s new form drew ire from some on social media who referred to the festival as a tradition. In the past, the annual three-day festival has drawn some 70,000 attendees and featured nationally known bands, including All-American Rejects, Everclear, and Third Eye Blind, but it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the past year, Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. (CFI) had the opportunity to re-envision how we, as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, fulfill our mission to celebrate Fairfax County and its communities,” the organization said. “CFI has been a staple in the Fairfax County community for nearly 40 years.”

Celebrate Fairfax lists an event planned for Wednesday, July 13, in Springfield — Springfield Nights: Celebrate Fairfax Kids, which includes a balloon artist and magic shows. The nonprofit also hosted its first Braddock Bark dog festival this past weekend.

So, with the old festival taking new shape, will you miss the big event?

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The Mosaic Skateland rink from summer 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Lace up the skates and practice popping those wheelies, because the Mosaic District’s popular outdoor roller skating rink is returning later this month.

Mosaic Skateland is set to open on June 25 on Merrifield Center Town Drive, between the Barnes & Noble and Mexican restaurant Urbano and across from Bloomie’s. It will run through the entire summer, until September 25.

The “80’s retro style roller rink” will be open seven days a week and at least 11 hours a day. On Friday and Saturday nights, the rink will be open for more than 12 hours, from 11 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended, and attendees can bring their own skates, though pairs will be available for rent.

Opening night will also be accompanied by a “Pride Celebration” with musical performances.

Additionally, all roller rink ticket sales during the Pride Celebration will be donated to the advocacy group FCPS Pride to help “ensure that all students, including trans and gender-expansive students are welcome, safe and respected in schools,” according to the event page.

A spokesperson from EDENS, the owner and developer of the Mosaic District, told FFXnow by email that it sees the partnership with FCPS Pride as “a terrific way” to support LGBT youth and “educate our community.”

“The Gay-Straight Alliance student groups have moved more to a Gender and Sexuality Alliance as being more inclusive of the whole community of LGBTQI+ and allies,” the spokesperson wrote. “Skateland brings the community together as one to celebrate Pride month representing the importance of total inclusion.”

EDENS is partnering with operator Rink Management Services Corporation (RMS), which claims it is the largest operator of ice skating facilities in the country.

RMS applied for a special permit to construct the rink on an annual basis back in April, as FFXnow reported. The zoning hearing isn’t scheduled until July, but it appears the rink will be allowed to operate earlier than that.

The Board of Supervisors agreed in March to grant RMS a 75% reduction in zoning fees as part of last summer’s emergency measure that lowered or waived some fees to help the hospitality industry during the pandemic. RMS paid a $4,093.75 fee paid back in March, rather than the $16,375 fee that the permit typically would’ve carried.

EDENS is asking that the permit be approved “for future years as well,” turning the roller skating rink — as well as an ice skating rink in the winter months — into a permanent fixture at the Mosaic District.

If approved, the roller rink will run for about three months each year, starting in the spring as opposed to summer, according to an April statement from RMS. The operator also hopes to run an ice rink during the winter, starting in early November and closing in late February.

The Mosaic District has seen plenty of activity in recent weeks, with the opening of Shake Shack and last week’s launch of its summer movie series “Films in the Park,” which has screenings every Thursday through the end of August.

Still to come this summer is the Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle, which will move into the former Jinya space as the ramen bar relocates to a bigger suite.

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Musician Josh Lovelace will kick off the 2022 Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season on June 21 (courtesy Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts)

School is out for the summer, but young kids won’t have much opportunity to get bored — at least as far as Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is concerned.

The park will launch a complete slate of family-friendly entertainment next week for the first full Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season of the pandemic. The 2020 season was canceled, along with the rest of Wolf Trap’s summer programming that year, and last year’s lineup was limited to just six performances.

The seven-week season will open at 10:30 a.m. next Tuesday (June 21) with folk singer Josh Lovelace, who plays keyboard for the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE.

“After last year’s shortened season, we’re thrilled to welcome our new and returning families back to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods for seven exciting weeks of performances,” Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts Director of Community Programs and Internships Cate Bechtold said in a statement. “This summer we’re proud to feature many diverse acts, from Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and Native Pride Dancers to D.C. favorites Uncle Devin and 123 Andres. Whether you are a fan of dance, theater, music or puppetry, there is something for everyone to enjoy!”

All performances will take place in the outdoor theater at 1551 Trap Road on Tuesday through Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. through Aug. 6.

Tickets are on sale now through Wolf Trap’s website and at the Filene Center box office, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. A “Pick Three” promotion gives a $2 per ticket discount to anyone who buys tickets to three or more shows.

In addition to singers, the lineup features dance ensembles like the Maryland Youth Ballet, puppetry, theater, and to close the season, a bit of magic from the Amazing Max. The full schedule can be found on the Wolf Trap website.

The park’s main summer season at the Filene Center has been underway since May 28. Up next will be the indie-pop band Belle and Sebastian, who will make their Wolf Trap debut with the band Japanese Breakfast at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

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Morning Notes

A heron flying above Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

County Seeks Feedback on Covid Response — While the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, Fairfax County is starting to evaluate how it handled the crisis. The county government is conducting two surveys — one for the community and one for businesses — to gather feedback on people’s experiences. The surveys are available online and at county libraries until July 5. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax City Community to Weigh in on Street Renamings — “Fairfax City Council is hosting a public hearing at its regular meeting Tuesday night to solicit feedback on a proposal to rename 14 streets in the city whose current names are associated with the confederacy, slavery or the ‘Lost Cause.'” [Patch]

Trash Pile Fire Extinguished in Lorton — “Units are on scene of a large outside trash pile fire in the 9800 block of Furnace Road, Lorton. The fire is contained but crews are working to fully extinguish it.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Learn the History of Juneteenth — Author and University of Maryland history professor Dr. Richard Bell will discuss the history and significance of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S. As of last night (Monday), there are still openings for the hour-long, virtual presentation, which will start at 6:30 p.m. and requires advance registration. [FCPL]

Lincolnia Fire Started by Unattended Cooking — A townhouse fire in the 4500 block of Southland Avenue on Friday (June 10) displaced five people and caused approximately $77,747 in damages. Investigators determined that the fire was started accidentally by “unattended food cooking on the stove” in the kitchen. [FCFRD]

Vienna Eases Rules for Roofs Over Decks — “The Vienna Town Council voted tonight to amend the zoning ordinance to enable homeowners to upgrade their outdoor living space by putting a roof over up to 400 square feet of a deck under certain conditions. For more details, visit http://viennava.gov/zoning.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

County Urges Vigilance for Signs of Child Abuse — “Fairfax County is asking community members to be on the lookout for possible signs of abuse and neglect, now that kids are out of class…Twana Johnson, assistant program manager, child abuse & neglect prevention services at the Department of Family Services, says as child supervision declines during summer months, so do calls to the hotline.” [WDVM]

FCPS Program Teaches Kids How to Ride Bicycles — “33 schools participate in the program, including both elementary schools — which typically have 30 bikes and 40 helmets on hand at a given time. [Safe Routes to Schools coordinator Sally] Smallwood estimates 10% to 20% of FCPS students in grades three to eight do not know how to ride a bike.” [ABC7]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning. High of 83 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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