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The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will perform at The Alden on Feb. 10 after the McLean Community Center’s Year of the Dragon Festival to celebrate the Lunar New Year (photo by Anthony Alverez)

The Year of the Rabbit is about to give way to the Year of the Dragon.

To welcome the Lunar New Year, which will officially begin on Feb. 10, the McLean Community Center is inviting the public to a free Year of the Dragon Festival and a show by the New York-based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company on Sunday, Feb. 4.

The festival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the community center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) and feature local musicians, dancers and artisans as well as food samples. In a press release, MCC teases that attendees should keep their eyes peeled for an appearance by a dragon.

The festival will be followed at 4 p.m. by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance performance in The Alden, the community center’s performing arts theater. Currently available online, tickets for the roughly 90-minute show cost $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors and students, and $20 for MCC tax district residents.

Here’s more on the company from MCC:

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a professional touring company founded by the visionary choreographer Nai-Ni Chen. Her company’s legacy blends contemporary American and traditional Chinese folk dance styles, creating a unique and captivating experience that reflects the inspiring hope and energy of an immigrant’s journey.

This performance will feature dance, a live musical performance on traditional Chinese instruments as well as lauded company repertoire:

  • “Lion in the City,” a collaborative work by Hip-Hop legend Rokafella and Kwikstep with the company’s Director of New and Contemporary Dance, Peiju Chien-Pott.
  • “Dragon Path,” a new work by emerging choreographer Aloe Ao Liu.
  • “Mongolian Festival,” a new work created by resident choreographer Lawrence Jin.

“This festival is great for those who have never celebrated the Lunar New Year before as well as those who have grown up with this tradition,” The Alden Director of Youth Theatre Programs Danielle Van Hook said. “We love having additional cultural experiences prior to performances to provide a more complete picture of the cultures that art comes from.”

Spanning the 15 days between a new moon and full moon, the Lunar New Year is generally celebrated in late January or early February in China and other Asian countries with a significant Chinese population, like South Korea and Vietnam. Specific traditions vary between cultures, but they often involve family gatherings, food and musical performances.

Northern Virginia’s Vietnamese community kicked off festivities early this past weekend with the La Vang Lunar New Year Festival, which was expected to draw over 20,000 attendees to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, according to the Washington Post.

Other scheduled events in Fairfax County include a Feb. 3 celebration at Tysons Corner Center, organized by the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the 21st annual Lunar New Year Celebration at Fair Oaks Mall, which will unfold over two days on Feb. 17-18.

Musician and activist Calvin Earl will lead a class on the music of the Civil Rights Movement for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in McLean (courtesy McLean Community Center)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday (Jan. 15), and local events will honor the civil rights leader and provide community engagement opportunities.

The holiday marks King’s birthday (Jan. 15, 1929), and it is also a Congressionally-designated day of service.

A sampling of the many MLK Day events planned around Fairfax County includes speeches, a march and volunteer projects:

2024 Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration
Saturday, Jan. 13-Monday, Jan. 15
Multiple locations
Some events are free, some are ticketed

The Reston Community Center has a full slate of events, including community service projects on Saturday morning at Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate (12125 Pinecrest Road) and a musical performance on Sunday at RCC Hunter Woods — Center Stage (2310 Colts Neck Road). On Monday at 11 a.m., Rev. William J. Barber will deliver a keynote address to a sold-out audience at RCC Hunter Woods. If you don’t have tickets, you can join a waitlist at the box office at 10 a.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Keynote Address
Saturday, Jan. 13
4 p.m.
The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave.)
$30 per ticket, or $25 for seniors and $20 for McLean Community Center district residents

Former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former lieutenant governor of Maryland Michael Steele will deliver an address titled “The Black Experience & The American Dream.”

Music of the Civil Rights Movement
Sunday, Jan. 14
2-3:30 p.m.
The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave.)
$10 per ticket, or $7 for seniors and $5 for MCC district residents

The Alden Theater at the McLean Community Center will host musician and activist Calvin Earl for a class covering “the music of the Civil Rights Movement and beyond,” per an event description. There will be a Q&A.

Martin Luther King Jr. Service and Learning Event
Monday, Jan. 15
10-11:30 a.m.
Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center
$8 per person, registration required

Families can engage with educational materials and a service project at the Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center (2709 West Ox Road, Herndon). Activities will be set up at stations and feature lessons about Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement and giving back to the community, per an event description.

Give Together
Monday, Jan. 15
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Northern Virginia Community College — Ernst Community Cultural Center
Free, registration required

Volunteer Fairfax is commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the community college’s Annandale campus (8333 Little River Turnpike) by encouraging families to support local nonprofits. Projects will include a food drive and food packing, “caring kits” for community members in need of support, no-tie fleece blankets for veterans and more. Participating kids can earn passport stamps as they complete projects.

Annual March for Unity and Freedom
Monday, Jan. 15
10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Starts at Tinner Hill Civil Rights Monument (Tinner Hill Road & South Washington Street)
Free, registration requested

Attendees will gather at the Tinner Hill Civil Rights Monument in Falls Church City and make their way to The Falls Church (115 East Fairfax Street) in the March for Unity and Freedom.

Visitors pose by the Christmas tree in Strawberry Park at the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Local government offices are closing early today (Friday) to give staff a head start on Christmas weekend.

With Christmas Eve falling on Sunday (Dec. 24) this year, Fairfax County, Fairfax City and the towns of Vienna and Herndon are all instead observing the occasion with a half-day today. All local government offices will shut down at noon, though schedules vary for some other public facilities and services.

Government offices will close all day on Monday (Dec. 25) for Christmas. The county courts, which are closing at noon today, will pause operations through Tuesday, Dec. 26, as will Fairfax County Public Schools, whose students have been on winter break since Dec. 18.

Here are other notable closures and schedule changes coming for the holidays:

Trash and recycling

Fairfax County won’t provide trash and recycling collection services on Christmas Day, bumping all customers back by a day throughout the week. The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex’s recycling and disposal centers will be closed Sunday and Monday.

The Town of Vienna and Fairfax City will both collect waste and recycling for both Monday and Tuesday customers on Dec. 26. Vienna won’t pick up brush and yard waste that day.

The Town of Herndon will make trash pick-ups as usual, but Monday recycling will be collected on Tuesday instead.


Metro is running modified service on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with trains and buses following Sunday schedules. Rail stations will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Fairfax Connector will operate on a Sunday service schedule on Christmas Day, and its customer service center will be closed. In Fairfax City, the CUE bus system will follow its regular schedules except on Dec. 25, when the service will be closed.

Like it did for Thanksgiving, the Virginia Department of Transportation is suspending most highway work zones and lane closures on major roads, starting at noon today and continuing until noon on Tuesday, Dec. 26. Rush-hour tolls for the I-66 Express Lanes inside the Capital Beltway will be lifted on Christmas Day.

Community centers

The McLean Community Center will be closed on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The Reston Community Center will close its Lake Anne facility on both days, but Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) will open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24. The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday before closing for Christmas Day.

The Herndon Community Center is open today from 7 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will close on Dec. 24-25. The Bready Park Tennis Center and Herndon Centennial Golf Course will also be closed on Christmas.

The Vienna Community Center will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s also observing holiday hours of 8 a.m. to noon today and 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Dec. 26-29.

Libraries, Parks and Recreation

Fairfax County Public Library will close all branches at noon today, followed by closures on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Libraries will open tomorrow (Saturday) according to their regular hours.

All Fairfax County Park Authority facilities are open today except for the carousel at Clemyjontri Park in McLean and Sully Historic Site in Chantilly. For Christmas Eve, park visitor centers and other amenities will be closed, but all rec centers will open from 8 a.m. to noon, except for the George Washington Rec Center in Mount Vernon, which is opening at 9 a.m.

The park authority will close all facilities for Christmas Day.

In Fairfax City, both the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center and Historic Blenheim are closed through Dec. 25.

A toy and meals distribution event is set for tomorrow (Photo courtesy BetterALife).

A new distribution center at the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate (12125 Pinecrest Road) in Reston will bring the Christmas spirit alive this holiday season.

Better a Life, a nonprofit organization that aims to support children and families in need, will host a Christmas meals and toy distribution event at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).

The nonprofit organization has been providing food to families in need every Wednesday at noon. It has also offered support to two Reston elementary school by providing meals over the weekend and essential items, such as blankets.

“We invite you to join us this Saturday to witness firsthand the tremendous need that exists in the Reston community and the efforts we are making to address local child hunger,” BetterALife CEO and founder Elizabeth Ford said. “Together, we can make a difference and bring hope to those who need it the most.”

A longtime Reston resident, Ford founded Better a Life in response to her experiences with poverty and food insecurity as a child, according to the organization’s website.

She and her mother moved several times due to evictions. After dropping out of high school and obtaining her GED, she worked table-waiting jobs to sustain herself financially. Eventually, she went to college online and earned a degree in information technology, making a commitment to help children in need.

Tomorrow’s distribution event will involve handing out meals, winter coats and toys. Local volunteers are encouraged to attend.

Herndon decorated a lighted Christmas tree outside town hall after ditching its usual Elden Street holiday wreaths (courtesy Town of Herndon)

Holiday decorations will look a little different this year in the Town of Herndon.

The town will not install its usual holiday wreaths on Elden Street’s poles because the process poses significant safety risks to the town’s workers, Town Manager Bill Ashton II told the Herndon Town Council at a meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 12).

Federal and state occupational safety rules prohibit workers from completed work on a pole within 10 feet of uninsulated power lines without property safety equipment and training, according to Ashton. Managed by Dominion Energy, the poles along Elden Street have uninsulated high voltage power lines — with only weather shielding as protection.

“This is something we were committed to, that we loved to do,” Ashton said. “Imagine our disappointment in mid-November when I learned that this holiday tradition has not or never has been safe for our employees to do.”

According to Ashton, the town discovered this rule in November during a routine safety training. The town’s workers don’t have the required safety equipment and training to install the wreaths, he said.

The issue drew public backlash — particularly on social media — when some residents directed criticism at the town’s risk manager.

Ashton II emphasized that the decision to drop the wreaths was his alone, noting that he found it “morally indefensible” to justify installing decorations at the expense of worker safety.

“I underestimated public passion on this issue,” he said.

This year, the town invested more time and resources to decorate the downtown Herndon area with a lighted Christmas tree, according to staff. While the town did explore hiring contractors to install the wreaths, it was unable to find a timely alternative ahead of the holiday season.


Santa Claus has already taken up temporary residence at Tysons Corner Center, but that won’t stop him from dropping by a couple of other spots around Tysons this week.

Coming up first, a particularly debonair St. Nick will host an evening of cocktails, cinema and charity on Friday (Dec. 8) at CMX Cinebistro in Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive).

The character of Fashion Santa was created in 2014 by runway model Paul Mason, whose career has included work with designers like Gianni Versace, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani — brands that can all be found at Tysons Galleria, either through their own stores or department stores like Neiman Marcus.

Mason says the character emerged during a somber period in his life when he stopped shaving out of grief over his mother’s death. Realizing that his beard made him resemble Santa, he decided to use the look for a good cause.

“The Fashion Santa character has had a really positive reception,” he told FFXnow by email. “It’s just a lighthearted new approach to jolly old Saint Nick. Fashion Santa brings awareness to different charitable initiatives and causes instead of making toys. It’s a new take on holiday giving.”

Fashion Santa previously visited the mall last year for a holiday reception that included a sneak peek of the restaurant Jiwa Singapura, which opened this past February. Attendees were encouraged to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank.

This year’s event will consist of a meet-and-greet at CMX Cinebistro’s bar from 7-9 p.m. and a “special” 7:45 p.m. screening of the Disney movie “Wish.”

Meet-and-greet attendees will get a complimentary photo with Fashion Santa and sip “festive” cocktails, according to the event page. Admission is free, but reservations are required, and the mall is encouraging $10 donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, the event’s charity partner.

Access to the “Wish” screening comes with a $25 donation, which also includes a Santa photo and a “goody bag.” Last month, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, a nonprofit that supports kids with critical illnesses, organized a preview of the animated film for local families at AMC Theatres in Tysons Corner Center.

Tysons Galleria Senior General Manager Rich Dinning says the mall is “always honored” to work with Fashion Santa “in support of important causes.”

“This year, Fashion Santa’s appearance at CMX CineBistro…promises to be a festive evening,” Dinning said in a statement. “Tysons Galleria has had an ongoing partnership with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and we are thrilled to close out the year with this fundraiser.”

Santa’s Workshop Holiday Extravaganza at The Boro

Santa is also scheduled to appear at The Boro (8350 Broad Street) this Saturday, Dec. 9 for photos, crafts, music and other free festivities.

“At Santa’s Workshop at The Boro, guests of all ages will be invited to enjoy a fun filled morning of holiday kids crafts, a DJ dance party, specialty hot chocolate bar with lots of fun fixings from Bluestone Lane, a holiday themed bounce house, and calligrapher on site to customize ornaments,” the event page says.

Santa will be available in his workshop at Boro Park from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The overall event will start at 11 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

If the event gets rained or snowed out, it will be rescheduled for Dec. 16.

“If there is no need for an alternative date, there will be a Santa Pop-Up on December 16 in Boro Park as another chance for guests to come see Santa,” The Boro said.

Santa is also continuing to take photos at Tysons Corner Center through Christmas Eve on Dec. 24.

A menorah and light-up dreidel have been added to Vienna’s holiday displays in the Town Green (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) The winners of Vienna’s first-ever holiday display lottery have been revealed.

A menorah and illuminated dreidel were installed late last month at the Town Green, joining a live Christmas tree — also a first for Vienna — that was lit during the annual Church Street Holiday Stroll last Monday, Nov. 27.

A winter solstice display proposed by resident and town council candidate Shelley Mountjoy is expected to be added today, the Town of Vienna announced last week.

Commemorating Hanukkah, which will unfold this year from Dec. 7-15, the menorah was installed on Nov. 28, while the dreidel came into place the following day. They were submitted, respectively, by the Chabad Tysons Jewish Center and Jewish Moms of Vienna.

The winter solstice, which kicks off the season with the shortest day of the year, will arrive at 10:27 p.m. EST on Dec. 21.

“We live in a multicultural community, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for various winter holiday traditions to be honored in our public space,” Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton said. “Residents from all walks of life gather on the Town Green for celebrations throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing various festive displays that represent our community during the season of peace and light.”

Announced in early November, the lottery gave residents an opportunity to submit their ideas for winter holiday decor that could be installed alongside the new Christmas tree. The submission period was open through Nov. 17, and the winners were notified by Nov. 22.

However, the town only received three submissions — the maximum number it planned to select — so no actual lottery was necessary for this first year.

At the Chabad Jewish Center’s request, the town will host a menorah-lighting ceremony at the Town Green (144 Maple Avenue) at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.

(Correction: This article initially listed the start time for the menorah-lighting ceremony as 4 p.m.)

All of the displays can remain up until Jan. 10.

In other Vienna holiday news, voting is underway for the town’s annual window decorating contest. Winners will be announced during a holiday reception at Town Hall (127 Center Street South) on Friday (Dec. 8).

Makers Union in Reston Town Center will feature a special holiday bar (courtesy Thompson Hospitality)

Makers Union, a restaurant and pub based in Reston Town Center, is welcoming the holidays with a twist to their traditional offerings.

The Blitzen Bar opens today (Friday) and will continue through Dec. 25. A playlist with holiday tunes ranging from classics to Snoop Dogg will be featured at the bar.

Makers Union is offering 12 crafted cocktails as part of the festive pop-up. Customers can order a “naughty or nice” cocktail, and a team of elves will offer them an envelope sealing their fate as naughty or nice.

“It wouldn’t be the holidays without a holly jolly cocktail, and lucky for you Makers Union is offering twelve crafted cocktails full of holiday cheer,” a spokesperson for Makers Union told FFXnow.

The bar kicks off tonight with holiday karaoke from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Thompson Hospitality, the Reston-based restaurant group behind Makers Union, will also kick off at the location in The Wharf on tomorrow (Saturday). Other restaurants in the group include Hen Quarter, Milk & Honey, and The Delegate.

Cocktails include white Christmas, sugar cookie martini, apple crisp martini, and mistletoe fizz.

Makers Union is located at 1811 Library Street. It’s open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, though hours vary on other days of the week.

A brick kit inspired by Reston’s Van Gogh Bridge by William Roehl is available for purchase (courtesy Reston Museum)

For those unsure what to get their loved ones this holiday season, Reston Museum has created a gift-giving guide with niche gift ideas.

The guide includes gifts for kids, collectors, and history lovers. All gift shop proceeds will support Reston Museum’s work.

New items in this year’s collection include pint glasses, Reston-inspired pins, and mugs with new designs.

“Over 70% of the Museum’s gift shop items are custom made or specifically feature Reston,” Reston Museum Executive Director Alexandra Campbell said. “From unique stocking stuffers to our best-selling books such as ‘Community is what it is all about: An Ode to Lake Anne’ by Cheryl Terio-Simon the gift shop has something for everyone that will truly feel special.”

The guide is available online, but museum organizers say the most comprehensive selection is available at the shop itself.

Reston Museum members get 10% off of gift shop items.

“November and December are the perfect time to visit the museum to view the Famous Restonians Exhibit, shop, or join the Puzzle Swap event happening on December 2nd,” Campbell stated.

Visitors who bring a puzzle set to the museum on Dec. 2 will get to swap their item for another puzzle. In addition, all items will be 10% off that day.

Reston Museum is located in Lake Anne Plaza at 1639 Washington Plaza. Admission is free, and the nonprofit museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, except on Saturdays (when operating hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Mondays, when it’s closed.

A Thanksgiving-themed sign (via Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash)

(Updated at 12:30 p.m. with Metro information) Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, bringing with it the promise (or threat, depending on your situation) of family gatherings and days off for many public services.

The Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Herndon and Vienna governments will all observe the holiday tomorrow (Thursday) by closing their offices, but schedules are more varied for Friday (Nov. 24).

Many private businesses and indoor shopping centers will also close for Thanksgiving, though most will reopen for Black Friday, because there’s nothing like a day of unabashed consumerism to follow a day of gratitude for what we have.

Shopping Malls

Tysons Corner Center, the D.C. area’s biggest shopping mall, will close tomorrow, but shoppers can get an early start on Black Friday, when doors will open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. Tysons Galleria will also close for Thanksgiving and open with modified hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

Over at Fair Oaks Mall, a Thanksgiving closure will be followed by Black Friday hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Springfield Town Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday.

Trash and recycling

Fairfax County trash and recycling customers won’t experience any change in services for the holiday. However, the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be closed on Thanksgiving and open the day after. Administrative offices will be closed through Friday.

“If you have private collection, please contact your hauler,” the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services says.

The Town of Vienna will have no waste collection on Thanksgiving, and on Friday, only trash and recycling will get picked up. The Town of Herndon isn’t collecting yard waste this week, and Thursday trash pickups will be collected on Friday instead.

Fairfax City will similarly conduct both Thursday and Friday curbside collections on Friday.


On Thanksgiving, Metro will operate trains and buses on a Sunday schedule, with trains running from 7 a.m. to midnight. Regular service will resume Friday.

Fairfax Connector will provide Sunday service tomorrow and holiday weekday service on Friday. The bus service’s stores and customer service center will close for Thanksgiving, reopening for regular hours on Friday.

Fairfax City’s CUE bus system won’t operate on Thanksgiving, but reduced weekday service, with one bus per route, will be available Friday.

Starting at noon today, the Virginia Department of Transportation is pausing most highway work and lane closures on major roads until noon on Monday, Nov. 27. Drivers will also be able to use the I-66 Express Lanes inside the Capital Beltway (I-495) without any rush-hour tolls on Thanksgiving. Read More


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