Another Halloween has come and gone, but the jack-o’-lantern that may be sitting on your stoop isn’t going to get rid of itself.
Instead of trashing the carved-up squash, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is encouraging residents to compost with its annual “PumpkinPalooza” services.
“Repurposing them in this manner is more environmentally friendly than throwing them away,” DPWES said in a press release announcing the event.
The county is accepting pumpkins for composting through Nov. 17 at its I-95 Landfill Complex (9850 Furnace Road) in Lorton and the I-66 Transfer Station (4618 West Ox Road) near Fair Lakes.
Pumpkins can be dropped off at both facilities between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“All pumpkins and squash must be free of all decorations, such as paint, glitter and candle wax,” DPWES said. “Those items cannot be composted.”
The county officially introduced its compost outpost for food scraps at the I-66 disposal facility in April after a two-year pilot to demonstrate its effectiveness.
The Fairfax County Park Authority has also added composting drop-offs at all of its farmers markets, though the Wakefield and Kingstowne markets have already ended their seasons. The park authority collected nearly 37 tons of compost last year, when the service launched at five markets before expanding to all sites for 2023.
With Halloween less than a week away, time is running out to assemble a costume and housing decorations ghoulish enough to impress neighborhood trick-or-treaters.
Fortunately for those making last-minute preparations, the seasonal pop-up Spirit Halloween has taken possession of several vacant retail stores across Fairfax County.
That includes a return to the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center, which first got converted last year after previously hosting a mass COVID-19 vaccination site. Long-term plans to redevelop the building at 7950 Tysons Corner Center got approved last month by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Accessible from the Plaza, the store is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except for Sundays, when doors close at 7 p.m.
Other locations include:
- Fairfax Towne Center in the former Bed Bath & Beyond (12100 Fairfax Towne Center)
- Crossroads Center in Bailey’s Crossroads, also a former Bed Bath & Beyond (5810 Crossroads Center Way)
- Springfield Commons in the former Party City (6721B Frontier Drive)
- Rose Hill Plaza in a former Tuesday Morning (6140 Rose Hill Drive)
- Village Center in Centreville, another former Tuesday Morning (5619 Stone Road)
The company’s website also lists a store as “coming soon” to the former Office Depot (3536 South Jefferson Street) at Crossroads Center in Bailey’s Crossroads. Spirit Halloween didn’t respond to FFXnow by press time when asked if that location is still coming.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Spirit Halloween announced before this season began that it would be its “biggest” one yet, with more than 1,500 locations around North America.
“We’ve seen Halloween grow from a single day of excitement into a season-long celebration, with so many enthusiasts showcasing their love for Halloween all year long,” Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein said in a press release. “…However you celebrate this season, we have everything Halloween fans need, from the classics to the hottest new trends.”
In addition to opening physical pop-up stores every fall, the business sells Halloween costumes, decor and animatronics year-round online.
Halloween is showing up on Tysons Corner Center’s doorstep a couple weeks early this year.
The mall’s Fall Festival this weekend will include a full Halloween experience, with trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and other activities.
The festivities will mostly unfold on the Plaza, where Maniac Pumpkin Carvers founder Marc Evans will put on live pumpkin-carving demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be face painting, a photo booth, a vender market, a beer garden from Barrel & Bushel, and a Seasons52 wine tent.
Live entertainment will be provided by country musician Scott Kurt and the bands Under the Covers and The Moonlighters. In addition, the Traveling Players Ensemble will stage a puppet show from 1-5 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).
There will also be a kids’ corn maze set up on Sunday (Oct. 16).
Kids who arrive between noon and 2 p.m. on both days can participate in Tysons Mall-o-Ween, where they’l be able to collect candy from over 40 retailers in the mall. Free tote bags will be handed out at the Plaza.
Advance registration is required for Mall-o-Ween, but only one ticket is needed per family, according to an announcement on Facebook. The mall encourages kids to don costumes, but Halloween masks won’t be allowed inside.
The Town of Vienna is also getting a head start on the season of ghosts and ghouls with Halloween on the Green.
From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, the parks and recreation department will offer snacks, games and prizes, story times, moon bounces, crafts and pumpkin decorating at the Vienna Town Green. The event page says a limited number of pumpkins will be available.
For area residents who’d prefer to celebrate closer to the actual holiday, Vienna will have its annual Halloween parade at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26. Saturday, Oct. 29, will bring costume contests to The Boro and The Perch at Capital One Center, and a Festival of Frights to McLean Community Center’s Old Firehouse.
The Mosaic District in Merrifield will close the weekend with a Halloween Spooktacular, which will feature trick-or-treating and a screening of the 2019 “Addams Family” movie on Oct. 30.
Finally, on Halloween itself (Monday, Oct. 31), Celebrate Fairfax will throw a party at The PARC (8508 Leesburg Pike) with “face painting, balloon twisting, mad science activities, and of course candy and other treats,” according to the Facebook event page.
(Updated at 2 p.m.) Dogs will be the ones dressing up for spooky season at The Boro this year.
The Tysons neighborhood will host a “Best in Show” dog costume contest on Saturday, Oct. 29 to celebrate Halloween.
Registration for the free event is now open and required for all participants in the dog show, which will be accompanied by a Bone Bar with pet treats. The booth previously made an appearance at the “Yappy Hour” Pride Month fundraiser in June.
Scheduled to run from 3-8:30 p.m., The Boro’s Halloween festivities will also offer trick-or-treating, an outdoor screening of the live-action “Scooby-Doo” at 6:30 p.m., and other activities for human attendees, per a media alert:
Don’t have a dog of your own? Guests are invited to watch Best in Show at The Boro and enjoy a live DJ, crafting stations, trick-or-treating, face painting and glitter tattoos. There will also be plenty of Instagrammable moments with light-up marquee letters spelling “BOO!” And once the sun goes down, everyone is invited to head to The Sandlot for Scooby-Doo (2002) under the stars.
Other happenings at The Boro this month include a free exercise boot camp this Saturday (Oct. 8), yoga on Oct. 12 and 19, Sandlot Cars and Coffee on Oct. 16, and an American Red Cross blood drive on Oct. 26.
For those more interested in retail updates at the development, Metropolitan Hospitality Group now says it’s looking to open El Bebe and Circa in November — slightly later than the previously hoped-for October time frame.
However, staff could start moving into the restaurants at the base of Boro Tower soon.
“Our team is looking forward to entering the space this month,” a spokesperson said.
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) A different kind of ghost will soon take up residence in the former Lord & Taylor at Tysons Corner Center.
A Spirit Halloween pop-up will move into the store’s lower level, mall spokesperson Maurisa Potts confirmed to FFXnow, stating that a specific opening date is still being worked out.
According to Spirit Halloween Communications Director Nikki Balles, the location at 7950 Tysons Corner Center is slated to open early next week, giving trick-or-treaters plenty of time to pick out the spookiest evening wear and decor.
An exact opening date is expected to be announced soon.
In business for more than 38 years, Spirit Halloween boasts over 1,400 locations annually, making it the biggest Halloween retailer in the U.S., according to its website.
A Bailey’s Crossroads store has already opened, and one in Fair Lakes Shopping Center’s former Saks off 5th will open at 11 a.m. today (Thursday). A pop-up is also coming soon to the former Tuesday Morning in Centreville.
Balles says the Tysons location was identified by the company’s real estate team, which “works year-round to identify and lock in the best locations available.”
Lord & Taylor departed Tysons Corner Center in January 2020, and since then, it has intermittently been used as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site until the Virginia Department of Health shut down those operations in March.
Perhaps unbeknownst to Spirit Halloween’s real estate team, the vacated store has also been a hub for paranormal activity, according to local medium Janie Daum, who told FFXnow last October that she has investigated some uncanny reports tied to the women’s restrooms.
Whether or not the space is actually haunted, Balles says customers can expect plenty of surprises from Spirit Halloween this fall, including new merchandise from pop culture favorites like “Ted Lasso,” “Squid Game” and “Bluey.”
“We expect this to be another killer year thanks to our expansive collection new and returning costumes, décor and accessories, along with our industry leading line of animatronics,” Balles said. “The strength of the brand and superfans enables Spirit Halloween to continue expanding our retail footprint, increasing store count and jobs each year.”
Janie Daum sometimes wishes she never got involved investigating the paranormal and speaking with spirits.
“Most people that want to do it, they get obsessed with it,” she told FFX Now. “They want more. They want to be touched. They want to hear them. They want to see them. And that’s not always going to happen.”
Daum has been running Northern Virginia Paranormal out of her home in Vienna for about 12 years. She works with a medium to investigate all sorts of disturbances: ghostly run-ins at homes, moving furniture at department stores, odd happenings at old museums.
She specializes in electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), the recording of sounds that could be the voices of spirits.
“I’m still the kind of person that’s on the fence about a lot of things. There’s no just black and white,” Daum said. “There is just a lot of gray area and you just have to listen to what you’re hearing from the spirits, what you’re recording and playing back.”
Daum’s interest in the paranormal was sparked partly by her 18-year-old daughter. They watched the TV show “Paranormal State” together and decided to go on a trip to investigate a purportedly haunted bar in Long Island.
“I got an EVP from a man who said his name was Tommy,” she said. “And that kind of got me hooked.”
That wasn’t the first time, though, that Daum experienced something unexplainable. After her grandfather’s funeral, she spotted him walking down the hall of their home.
“There are little things in my life that kind of drew me to this direction,” she said.
Though she had some hesitations, Daum says her investigations stem from a desire to help folks in need, both those on this mortal coil and those that have left it.
“I always try and find out [the spirit’s] names, who they’re attached to, and if there’s any message that they need to get to a living being that is still walking the Earth, and if there’s a way we can help them,” she said.
Most spirits don’t mean any harm, she says. They are simply lost, stuck, or otherwise can’t go through to the light. However, spirits have the same character traits they did when they were alive.
“If they were an S.O.B. in life, they’re still an S.O.B. on the other side,” said Daum.
She prioritizes investigations for families with children. For instance, when a child repeatedly talks about a man who comes out of their closet and claims to be a doctor, that family needs her expertise.
“If it’s a repeating thing that is continuously happening, it’s not just a child’s imagination,” she said.
While Daum doesn’t like to reveal specifics out of respect for her clients’ privacy, she does more investigations in Loudoun County and rural Maryland than Fairfax County.
Fairfax County is more affluent with newer buildings, she explains. Plus, some are embarrassed about calling paranormal investigators.
“Even if they have issues, things happening that they can’t explain, they don’t want anybody to know about it,” Daum said.