Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Absentee in-person voting started this week at the 14 satellite voting stations in Fairfax County, including the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, and the Thomas Jefferson Library at 7415 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church. Voting hours are 1 – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturdays. A ballot drop box is available at each location, only during operating hours, for those voters wishing to avoid using the U.S. Postal Service to return their ballots. Sealed ballots in the drop box will be secured each night and taken to the Office of Elections for processing. If you have not already joined the thousands of Fairfax County residents voting absentee, there still is time to apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail. If you prefer to vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3, you should go to your regular polling place between 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. Anyone in line by 7 p.m. on Election Day will be permitted to vote.

The last day to vote absentee in-person is Saturday, Oct. 31, which also is Halloween. In previous years, some voters, and some election officials, have come in costume! The pandemic has changed the approach to traditional trick-or-treat festivities, and many parents have asked if Fairfax County will “cancel” trick-or-treating. The short answer is no. Halloween observances are private activities, but safety must be a priority. Handing treats to children door-to-door is not recommended this year, nor are tailgate-type handouts in large parking lots, referred to as “trunk or treat.” Indoor costume parties and haunted houses also are not recommended this year, since close quarters and screaming are conducive to spreading virus.
So how can parents make Halloween fun this year? Pair carved jack-o-lanterns, a fun family activity, with individually packed treat bags lined up at the end of your sidewalk or driveway. That way, trick or treaters can simply pick up a treat bag, contactless. Host a virtual costume party – the kids can pretend they are modeling on TV! Conduct outside events where social distancing can be observed and enforced. Masks are a traditional part of Halloween costumes but, this year, the mask should cover nose and mouth, instead of forehead and eyes. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask; please do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask as that can make it difficult to breathe. With a few tweaks, Halloween can be fun, and new traditions established. Try it!

Pickleball, a combination of badminton, ping pong, and tennis, has been around since the mid-1960s, but has become very popular in senior citizen circles and residences. Fairfax County has received numerous requests for more pickleball sites, both indoors and outdoors. By refurbishing existing tennis courts and multiuse courts to provide for multiple sports, the county now has nearly 30 additional outdoor courts lined for pickleball. To create a more strategic, equitable, and sustainable approach to providing for pickleball, the Park Authority will launch a public survey (date to be announced) that will provide additional insights on the community’s needs and desires related to pickleball. Watch this space for updates.

Stay safe and healthy, and VOTE!

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.