Falls Church News Briefs

Visiting Middle Schoolers Recount Inauguration Memories

Sixteen middle school students from Santa Barbara, Calif., who spent six days sleeping at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church to cover the Presidential Inauguration as journalists, recounted their most profound Inauguration experiences gathered together at Anthony’s Restaurant last night before departing to fly back home.

The experiences broke into four groups: 1. the “We Are One” concert, 2. the sheer magnitude of the Inaugural event, 3. the emotional moment the oath of office concluded and the words, “President Obama” evoked, and 4. a long, crowded Metro rail ride from Falls Church to the National Mall. A number recalled, concerning the latter incident, that the ride took an hour and a half, with everyone crushed in and very hot from being heavily bundled. The mood of grumpy discomfort became transformed, they noted, when someone began quietly singing, “Lean on Me.” Immediately, everyone in the car began singing along and “turned everything from frustration to fun.” It was followed by other robust songs and when the train arrived, no one wanted to get off, they said.

Locals Among Thousands Locked Out of Inauguration

Many Northern Virginia supporters of President Obama who considered themselves highly fortunate to score a ticket to the Inauguration Tuesday found that even with long hours of waiting, they were unable to get onto the Mall for the event. While those without tickets could meander onto the Mall from the rear, the ticket holders were told to go to entrance gates on the sides of it, near the front, where there was no view of the ceremonies short of arriving at their ticket locations. An estimated 4,000 holders of “purple” and “blue” area tickets had their entrances blocked off with no one to offer alternatives or explanations. A new Facebook page has been created, entitled, “Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom.” It is peopled with more than 1,800 ticket holders who descended into the Third Street Tunnel, thinking it would lead to their gate, and those with comparable fates. Many were stuck in the tunnel for four hours, only to find it was blocked for good. Others complained that, for the first time in their experience, there was no way for a non-ticket-holder to get near a spot to watch the Inaugural parade.

F.C. Relay for Life Kick-Off Saturday

The 2009 Relay for Life of Falls Church officially kicks off Sunday, Jan. 25, with an event at the Henderson Middle School from 2:30-4 p.m. Forty teams joined forces in last year’s F.C. Relay for Life, raising more than $80,000 in support of the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer. The kick-off event will feature a video presentation of last year’s event, and provide information about plans for this year’s relay, which will be held May 30-31 on the football field at George Mason High School. That overnight event features activities for all ages in a moving celebration of both cancer survivors and those who have lost their lives to the disease. Last year, dozens of cancer survivors were recognized at a reception and during a “survivor’s lap” at the start of the event. Hundreds more victims of cancer were remembered with a luminaria that lit up the high school’s track as darkness fell. More information is available at

Inauguration Drive Collects 9,000 Lbs. of Food in F.C.

A Falls Church community food drive, organized as part of the National Day of Service events during the inaugural celebration of President Barack Obama, collected more than 9,000 pounds of food for the Merrifield-based food bank, Food for Others. More than 170 volunteers helped Monday, collecting food from neighbors and from customers at the Giant Food in Loehmann’s Plaza. “This will provide the equivalent of over 9,000 meals for the needy in Falls Church and Fairfax County,” said Liz Reinert, the food bank’s director of operations. She said she was “extremely impressed.” The drive was one of 13,000 Renew America Together events held Monday nationwide.

Benefit for F.C. Shelter Set for Valentine’s Day

This year’s annual benefit for the Falls Church Emergency Winter Homeless Shelter will be held Saturday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day), entitled “An Evening of Music, Merriment and Auction.” The event will be held at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building, 4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. For a donation of $35 per person, a light buffet and “decadent desserts” will be served. Call 703-395-4868 for more information. Checks to the F.C. Winter Homeless Shelter can be sent c/o Jody Kane, 1100 Tuckahoe St., Falls Church 22046.